In 2017, I took my first walk into working from home.
For the first few months, I was all over the shop. I was losing concentration, motivation was dropping and ultimately I was fed up.
Fast forward to today, I am officially a ninja at working from home.
Sharing is caring, so let me share several tips with you that have transformed my life.
Grab a cup of tea and a few chocolate biscuits, because you deserve it, and let's jump in.
So let's get right to the point, what changed my work from home productivity?
Simple ... a routine! Genius right?!
Step 1: Agree days and hours that you will be working. Discuss the proposal with your manager and do not leave the discussion until everyone is agreed.
Step 2: Set up your work station. On the days leading up to your first day working from home, set up your work station. Put it wherever works best for you. Over time you may find you are more productive in different locations, depending on the task, but pick one to begin with and prepare it ahead of time. On your first day you just walk to your "desk" and start work.
Step 3: Make sure the technology works. This is a brilliant one. I remember my first conference call with the team in Canada. My technology worked but the speaker on their end was shocking, so I could not hear a word. Upside is I dropped off the call and won a whole hour back of my day. Downside is I missed the entire team meeting.
Step 4: Have a shower at the start of every day! Not only will it be more pleasant for the people around you, but you will be refreshed. After the shower, I do not care if you get back into PJ's or loungewear or even your favourite suit. That is your choice. Wear what you are comfortable working in and puts you in the right mindset.
Step 5: Schedule breaks. Do not sit at your desk all day! GET UP! This will transform your day. My party trick to increase the number of times I got up to move was by using a smaller cup for my water. This meant that I was forced to get up to get a drink. These giant cups are amazing but certainly do not encourage more movement.
Step 6: Do not miss meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner still need to happen. Plot them into your calendar and break when you get the calendar reminder to do so. You need to fuel yourself correctly to keep your energy, focus and ultimately, your productivity high.
Step 7: Keep engaged with the outside world. Set-up team chats so you can stay connected with what is happening out there. Your need for this will vary depending on your personality type. I am a people person so need a regular flow of conversation through the day to keep me sane. Try to mix up the medium to text, voice notes and video calls. Each medium brings a different level of engagement.
Step 8: Weekly tasks. Set yourself tasks that you must complete by the end of each week. Remember to refer back to your days/hours of work that you had earlier agreed. If you are working restricted hours, due to personal requirements, then consider that when setting a plan. 99.9% of the time you should be able to finish the week and say "YES I achieved that", not "oh well I missed that target again". If you keep saying the latter phrase, you need to refocus on giving yourself realistic tasks, based on the time you have available to achieve them.
Step 9: Speak your truths. Working from home can be challenging to adjust to for many different reasons. If you are struggling to adjust, despite your best efforts, then speak out to your team. Remember your team are not seeing you everyday so they may not be able to pick up that something is troubling you but they will identify it if work starts to slip. Do not let it get to that point. Speak up. Ask for help. Your team is there to support you.
Step 10: Treat yourself. You no longer commute to work, that does not mean you have to start work earlier! Take the time that would have historically been allocated to commuting and use it to do something YOU want to do. Read a bit more of that book, do a class, do a workout, go for a walk, make breakfast, sit outside, play with your kid(s). You get the idea. Do whatever you want but do not lose that time. That time was yours before, so keep it as personal time. Consider it as a little treat to you every day, because you're worth it.
Step 11: If working from home full-time is not for you, then change it. Obviously once the lockdown is lifted.