Since April 2017, I have worked from home. That was when my marketing business started and I have worked from home ever since. It has taken lots of disipline and practice to stay focused and set up systems, schedules and processes so that I don’t burnout and get things done. When COVID hit it was a whole new ball game. Suddenly it was kids home from school, we were the teachers, and my husband was working from home too!
The past few years feels like constant adjustments, especially with our cross country move. Now we’re sort of back to normal with kids back in school, but my husband is still home a few days a week!
Pros of Working from Home
✅ more flexibility in your schedule.
✅ not losing time with a commute.
✅ cost saving on food and gas.
✅ you can wear what you want!
Cons of Working from Home
🔴 more easily distracted.
🔴 harder to separate work and home life.
🔴 may require more expenses to set up.
🔴 family might not always understand boundaries.
Practice and communication are essential when it comes to working from home, from both yourself and members in your household. Here are some tips that I’ve learned in my years working from home and some that I’m working on building into my life.
Establish a Routine
A routine helps you stay on task. For me, it especially helps me accomplish some of the tasks that I don’t really enjoy doing because I can get them out of the way. It also helps me organize the tasks that take more of my brain power, like writing content or building a strategy for a client, with things that I can do and be interrupted more like admin tasks or social media scheduling. I’m a huge fan of a morning routine to help you get your day started off on the right foot.
My current morning routine looks like this:
☀️ wake up at 5:30.
📧 5:30 – 7 admin tasks, social follow up and email.
🚿 7-9 workout, shower and get kids ready and off to school
💻 9 start diving into my big 3 tasks for the day
Create a Designated Workspace
Having a space that is just for work can really help with shutting down for the day and starting fresh in the morning. It also means you won’t be shuffling papers and computers to and from the kitchen table! You can be creative with your space. Use curtains or a divider to separate your space. Put it somewhere that is farther away from things that might commonly distract you like the TV, the kitchen or your partner.
I’ve had several different workspaces. At our old house I had a door which I loved. My favorite thing was the sign I had out front that I could light up to signify that I was recording or on an important call and couldn’t be interrupted. Now I’m off the kitchen with curtains separating me. It’s harder to avoide interruptions but it just means our communication has changed.
Communicate With Your Employer (and Your Household)
Communication is key when you work from home. So let’s talk first about your employer.
When you aren’t in the office it can be easy to feel like people aren’t working or pulling their weight. It can also feel like a lot of pressure when you’re being pulled in different directions at home. Be clear about things that are coming up, what your work environment looks like and what you need to be successful. You never know until you ask if you can work non-traditional hours, take a longer break in the afternoon to grab your kids, etc. Another layer of communication is understanding what the expectation is for follow up and responses. If you’re working different hours than your team mates this definitely needs to be considered.
When you work from home, it can be just as hard for your family to separate the difference between working and being a parent or partner. We try and do a Sunday meeting. Those are quick check ins about what is going on that week, what might be an adjustment from our routine and what the kiddos might need that week. Then we touch base each morning while the kids are eating breakfast. Finally, I’m always over communicating when I’m recording or in the middle of a big project that can’t be interrupted. We try and tell the kids what parent to go to if they need something (although they’re about 50/50 at remembering 😂).
Prioritize Your Tasks
This is the hardest thing, and the biggest reason that it can be hard to separate from work when the day is done. There is always something else that can be done. I’m a huge fan of the Full Focus Journal, but you can do this with regular paper if you’d like! This has really helped me ensure I’m working on the right thing and can end the day feeling like I got something done.
Here’s how it works.
Each quarter I set my goals and priorities to help me reach my annual goals. I pick my big three things that I know are going to push the needle forward the most.
Each week I set my big three to help me get to my quarterly goals.
Each day I set my big three to help me get to my daily goals.
For me, it helps to have less to focus on, knowing it’s going in the right direction. It feels less overwhelming. The big three are not my entire task list, but I know that if I get those three done I can feel like I did something.
This is easily the hardest thing for me to do. And for whatever reason, my Apple watch tends to tell me to stand right after I’ve just sat down 🤦♀️! I have been trying to be better about things like not eating lunch at my desk, or even just eating lunch.
Days when you take breaks you will be more productive because you’ll have more space to rest your brain and get refocused. You’re also more likely to nourish your body with more water and snacks.
If you have kiddos at home, this can also be time to make them meals or just have some fun and hang with them. If you have littles, planning in a nap can also be helpful. Taking breaks should be scheduled into your schedule just like your weekly meetings. That way they don’t feel like they’re keeping you from getting your priorities done.
Give yourself some grace. Some days you’ll be killing it getting all the things done and feel like you rule the world. Some days you’ll feel like nothing is going to get done and you feel beat down. Remember to think about the flow of what you have going on that week and be realistic about what you can do and what you might need to let go of.
There are a ton of productivity apps out there. But there are also apps that can help you minimize distractions. Use the notification settings on your phone so you aren’t getting alerts in the middle of a big project. Set timers for the apps you know are a time suck for you. Close down things on your computer that bleep or notifiy you so you don’t get distracted.
Use a project management tool like ClickUp to help you keep track. This can be especially helpful if you’re working with a team. You’ll be able to see all that needs to be done to help you see big picture for yourself and your team.
These are just a few ways to help you be more productive in your home. Just remember to listen to yourself and figure out what works for you and your family. Also remember that through all the phases of life your routine will change so flexibility is key.