How to Get Organised When You Work from Home

If you have been forced to start working from home during the current crisis, you may be finding that transitioning to work at home is hard.  The initial joy of being able to work from home can quickly be replaced by worry, a lack of motivation and never-ending distraction.

How on earth are you supposed to get things done when there are so many distractions?  While home working can deliver a lot of benefits, it presents plenty of challenges too.  Follow these tips to help you create a great space to work and to become better accustomed to working from home.

Set up a quiet working space

With all of the distractions at home, it can be really hard to concentrate on work.  This is especially true if you have kids at home.  So, if you want to ensure you can get things done in peace, it’s worth setting up a quiet working space.

Whether you’re setting up a permanent or temporary office space, you need to ensure it has everything you need and it’s quiet and comfortable to work in.

Try to use a room that isn’t frequently used during the day.  Place a sign on the door when you’re trying to work to let others know not to disturb you or negotiate childcare with your partner so you get some dedicated work time.

Create a home office

If you want to boost your productivity levels when working from home, it helps to set up an office space, rather than trying to work from your sofa or even at your kitchen table.  Having an area purely dedicated to working will help you to separate work from home life, and helps you to put time limits on your day.

The minimal equipment you will need to work from home is a laptop or desktop computer and a desk.  But if you aren’t setting up a permanent home office, you can use things such as the dining room table or a makeshift bedroom office.  Some people are even getting creative and using an ironing board as a stand-up desk option!

Get enough light

Ensure the work space you choose has plenty of natural sunlight.  When you’re stuck indoors, you won’t be getting as much natural sunlight as you should, which can have an impact on how productive and motivated you are.

Numerous studies have revealed the damaging impact limited natural daylight can have on workers in an office setting and the same applies at home.  So, make sure you’re going to be working in a part of the home which benefits from a lot of daylight. If there isn’t a space available, you might want to consider investing in a daylight bulb that is designed to replicate natural daylight.

Make sure you take regular breaks, getting up to stretch, drink some water and take a walk round the garden every hour or so.  You will be working much more intensively at home, so regular breaks are even more important than when you work in an office.  Set a lunch hour and make the most of it by taking a walk, cooking something delicious, or heading out into your garden with a sandwich.

Focus on comfort

Your home office should be a comfortable place you can work too.  This means, providing plenty of support for your back if you’re working at a desk for example.  If you aren’t comfortable, you’re not going to get much work completed.

You’ll also find it beneficial to surround yourself with things that make you happiest, such as photos of the family, a beautiful painting, and plants or flowers.

Start as early as possible

One of the main challenges that can come from working from home is delaying the time you usually start.  It’s tempting to have a lie in and take longer to relax in the morning before starting.  However, this only zaps your productivity.

If you want to ensure you stay productive, you’ll want to start as early as possible.  The positive side to this is that the earlier you start, the earlier you’ll get to finish.  So then you can enjoy plenty of time to yourself or with your family in the afternoon.

Set work hours

Flexibility is one of the key benefits of working form home, but there can be a tendency to allow work to fill every waking moment and, if you let it, your work will expand to fit the time available.

You will be saving a lot of time by working at home, from the obvious things like meetings or your commute time, to the less obvious like interruptions from your colleagues or boss and transition between locations.  So the work you do have to do should fit into a shorter time period than the usual 9-5.  But you must set a start and end time for each day or work will eat into your personal time too.

Of course, you may still have meetings via Zoom or have to check in at certain times, but your day should be largely yours to plan, so create a structure that suits your energy levels and interests during the day.  Maybe writing reports in the morning and creative endeavours after lunch.  Experiment until you have a schedule or rhythm that suits you perfectly.

Set social media limits

You’ll have a lot more time to check in on social media when you haven’t got the boss breathing down your neck.  However, it’s easy to waste hours scrolling through your social media accounts if you aren't careful.

Many home workers find it useful to set limits on their social media use during working hours.  It could be simply committing to using it during a specific time for example.  Having limits in place makes you more aware of how much you’re using it.  If you still find yourself tempted, delete the apps from your phone or mute notifications during work hours.

Make a must do list

Before you finish each day, make a list of things to achieve in your next work session.  I find it best to have 3 must dos and then an on-going to do list of would like to dos in case time allows.  Setting a 3 item list, ordered by priority, means you can open your laptop and get on without distracting yourself or having to think.

I use a Post-it square for my top 3 and have it stuck to the top of the laptop screen so it is right there when I open it, and therefore pretty much unavoidable!  Get on with task one as soon as you start work, and only check email once you have achieved it.  Then set a 15 minute on email before you start task two.  This way you don't get distracted or dragged into a mire of minutiae instead of completing your most important taks.

I hope these tips help you get organised when you work from home.  More tips on motivating yourself and more to come!

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