3 Steps to Working Happier & Smarter from Home

Image of Erin Ramos Reyes
Erin Ramos Reyes
Working From Home

Looking for tips on working from home more effectively?According to Upwork, 41.8% of the American workforce switched to remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic and an estimated 26.7% will still be working from home through 2021. On top of that, an expected 36.2 million Americans (22% of the workforce) will be working remotely by 2025.

I have been working from home since long before the pandemic. Friends would often tell me how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to work remotely. Now that more and more people are transitioning to the same way of life, they're starting to realize that there are benefits as well as challenges.

For me, the transition from an office setting to my home environment wasn’t easy. It definitely took some time to figure out how to structure my days for the most productivity and success. Each person has their own formula, but I’ve found that these 3 guidelines enable me to stay on track and work happily from home:

 

3 Steps to Working More Effectively from Home:

 

1. Set Your Boundaries

Every company has their own operating hours, whether it be the classic 9-5, 10-6 like us, or something similar. But let’s face it, in a world where we are in constant communication via social media, e-mail, etc., operating hours can sometimes feel non-existent. Keeping your schedule as consistent as possible goes a long way, and this starts with setting boundaries. I’ve come up with a morning routine that I follow to a tea. I wake up, get my child fed, ready for school, and dropped off all before 9 am. Once I’m back home, I try to give myself at least 30 minutes of free time to organize, clear my head, or settle whatever could be a potential distraction to me during the day. For example, cleaning up leftover breakfast on the counter or washing the plates in the sink that will be calling my name until they are washed. Once that 30 minutes is up, my work day grind begins and there’s no turning back. When the work day ends, I turn off my computer and allow myself to enjoy my family. Time-management paired with a consistent routine is the ideal way to feel productive at home. Give yourself time to breathe as well as a definite start and end time each day. This can ensure a healthy work-life balance.

 

2. Create Your Workspace

When I first began working from home, I sat at the kitchen table for 8 hours a day. I quickly realized that this was not the best environment for me to work productively. One night, while having dinner with my family, I found myself thinking about a work e-mail simply because I was sitting at “my desk”. This is why it's imperative that you have a dedicated workspace, separate from your personal spaces. Find the area that works best for you and set up a workspace so you can get into the mindset of going there to be productive every day. For some it's a craft room, a guest room, or even having to get creative in your studio apartment. As long as you're not mixing business with pleasure. Working in your bed, for example, would make you want to sleep, but waiting to get into bed at the end of the day feels like a hard-earned reward.

The best way to motivate yourself to stay within your dedicated workspace? Personalize it! Buy a daily planner that you like and keep it next to your computer. Place a coaster that will be for your coffee or other preferred energy drink. Get some office supplies like sticky notes and pens. The more exciting and productive it feels, the more likely you are to stay put during your work day.  

 

3. Make To-Do Lists

We all have those days when it feels like there’s a million things to do, and not enough time. It can be even more overwhelming when having to time-manage yourself at home. However, I like to think that those who plan ahead, plan to succeed. If you're one of the rare few with a photographic memory, then maybe this won't apply to you. For the majority, tasks must be written down in order to remember them. I recommend listing them in order of importance. By just creating a daily outline of your tasks, you’re already two steps ahead. Each time you cross off an item, it motivates you to do what’s necessary to cross off the next one. With a simple daily roadmap, you’ll see your progress throughout the day and feel a sense of accomplishment. 

Working remotely has many pros and cons. It can definitely be more relaxing than the hustle and bustle of going into an office every day. On the other hand, it can be really hard to focus and stay productive. It also depends what your home environment is like. During the pandemic, some of us are home with significant others and children. Others live alone and are used to peace and quiet while working. Weighing all of these factors, working from home can be just as productive as working in an office. All you have to do is prepare, create boundaries for a healthy work-life balance, and stay motivated.

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