More and more people are deciding to embrace the flexibility of working from home. There are so many benefits, from cutting out the commute to being able to focus without the distractions of office life. But it can be a challenge to maintain motivation and productivity when it’s just you and the cat.
So, how do you organize your life to maximize the opportunities of working from home? Here are some expert tips to help you stay on track.
Have a Dedicated Office Space
It’s essential to keep the work and the living spaces of your home separate. Having a dedicated home office is the best solution, but you can also have a desk and computer set-up that you only use for work. The important thing is to be able to separate your working area from your chillaxing, family, and sleeping areas.
Using your laptop on the sofa won’t cut it when it comes to being productive and focused.
Stick to a Morning Routine
Having a regular work morning routine will help you to get into work mode. You need to feel professional and prepared before you sit down to check your emails.
Get up at the same time every day, have a proper breakfast, and go for a walk or to the gym. Think of your morning walk as a sort of mimic for a commute. When you come home, grab and coffee and go straight to your desk, and you’ll be ready to start your workday.
Stay in Touch
When you’re working remotely, it’s even more important to touch base. Isolation can be a real risk for home workers. There’s no one to bounce ideas off or share good or bad news with. Set up regular video meetings with your colleagues and your boss. And don’t forget to maintain the social connections with your team. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you have to miss out on coffee mornings, lunches, or dinners. You can meet up in person or have a virtual get-together.
Stick to a Schedule
Using a planner or a diary will help you stay on top of deadlines and commitments. You can either use an old-fashioned but highly effective wall planner and hard copy diary or set up an online calendar system. Daily and weekly task lists will make you more efficient and productive.
Commit to Self-Care
Self-care is super important when you’re working from home. Make sure to take regular breaks and have a proper lunch away from your computer. Schedule walks out of the house at least once during your working day. Drink plenty of water and keep healthy snacks in the house.
Keep Your Home Office Organized
Are you a naturally tidy person or more of a packrat? One of the key habits of successfully working from home is the ability to get and stay organized. Getting your work files mixed up with your shopping list is going to do nothing for your professionalism or your productivity. If you’re currently sitting at your desk surrounded by random piles of paper, post-it notes, and invoices, you need to get yourself better organized.
Have A System
Remember that saying ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’? That needs to be your home office motto. Get yourself a set of binders or a filing cabinet and sort out all your paperwork. File completed projects and only have your current work on your desk.
Keep stationery items in one drawer and use old-fashioned in and out trays to manage paper flows.
Scan invoices and receipts to cut down on paperwork and make sure your computer filing system matches your hardcopy system.
Keep Your Work Space Separate and Uncluttered
Your office space should only be used for work purposes. Whether you have a separate home office or just a desk, don’t let the household detritus spill into your workspace.
Keep your desk clear, except for what you’re currently working on. Don’t let paper, books or stationery build up. Nobody needs more than one stapler!
Have Regular Clean-Ups
Your home office shouldn’t get to crisis point before you declutter. Schedule weekly or monthly sessions where you do any outstanding filing, re-order office supplies like printer ink and paper. Reward yourself by buying some flowers for your desk.
Keep Home and Work Admin Separate
Everything related to your work should go straight to your home office space. Business mail, bills, and other paperwork should be kept completely separate from home and personal papers. You could have a business or work ‘mailbox’ so any work-related documents go straight in there and don’t get the chance to get mixed up with household mail.
Schedule Routine Tasks
Having piles of unpaid bills, unissued invoices, and other paperwork piling up adds to your stress and lowers your productivity. Schedule regular admin time either at the end of every working day or at the end of the week so you can pay bills, prepare invoices, and do the filing.
If it’s part of your regular schedule, you won’t worry about falling behind.
Control Your Inbox
If you’re a home-based entrepreneur, you might be finding yourself swamped by emails. Your day is full of demands from reaching out to clients, managing social media, and actually getting some work done. And all the time, emails keep coming in. So how do you gain control over your inbox and build your business?
If your inbox looks like a pile of laundry, you need to embrace the email folder! Folders are easy to set up to suit your business needs and make keeping track of messages and prioritizing them so much easier. Be rigorous about moving messages to folders and resolve to have an empty inbox by the end of the day.
There are also lots of software options to help filter and sort your emails for you.
Likely you get a lot of junk emails or emails that you signed for and now don’t even read. They are weeds that are infesting your inbox! Before you hit delete, go to the unsubscribe button down at the bottom of most business emails and get off those lists.
Use the Two Minute Rule
Once you’ve got your folders set up, you should implement the two-minute rule. In just two minutes, you can either respond quickly, trash, or mark with an action flag and move the email to the appropriate folder for future action.
Isolate Your Email Admin Time
Set aside confined times during the day when all you do is deal with your inbox. Outside those times, close your email or turn off notifications, so you don’t get distracted by incoming messages, all clamoring for your attention.
Depending on your schedule, it can be useful to deal with emails at the beginning and end of each working day. That’s it. Add this information to your email signature, so correspondents know when you’re available to answer emails.
Don’t Skim Business Emails
Reserve skimming for when you check your inbox for new messages. When you are reading an email, give it your full attention to see what is actually being said or asked. Too often, people will fire off a quick response without giving proper consideration to the substance of the email.
Imagine you’re reading a hard copy letter and give it the same level of thought before you hit that reply button. If it’s a tricky email, hang off pressing send and read it over.