The first day of working from home feels pretty great. You can set your alarm later, you don't have to worry about sitting in grid-lock traffic. I mean will anyone really know if you don’t start exactly on time? At some point in the day you realize you have the option to drink on the job, and you can totally work in your pajamas! It’s super fun…. For like 3 days….
We started Peregrine out of our house, so we know a thing or two about working from home. We’re going to go over a couple of critical mistakes to avoid and how to make working from home work for you.
Avoid the Sliding Clock and Stick to Routine
This is one of the biggest struggles I still have. The temptation to stay up late is hard to resist when you know you can sleep in. If you’re not careful, you might find that at the end of a week, your schedule is completely upside-down. Be careful of falling victim to the trap of working later. This is a slippery slope. It’s fun for a while, but it really affects the quality of your sleep and your productivity during the day. Plus, it makes the transition back to normal hours that much more difficult.
We try to stick to a schedule as much as possible. We try to make sure we’re going to bed and waking up at the same time. This also helps to create a bit of a sense of urgency. I find that if I don’t have a start time in mind, my morning routine can easily take 3x as long, but if I know when I want to be starting my day it’s helpful for me to pick up the pace.
I would also highly encourage you to get up and get ready for the day. Sure maybe for a day or two it feels nice to live in your PJ’s, but if you’re going to be working from home for any length of time, you need to feel human.
Manage Your Distractions
Tyler is a firm believer in the Pomodoro technique when he’s having a tough time focusing. If you’re not familiar with this technique, you start off by setting a timer for about 25 minutes. During this time you focus on your work. Don’t check your phone, don’t check emails, really focus on the task you’re doing. When the timer goes off, take a short 5 minute break.
During these 5 minutes you can do some jumping jacks, get up and move around a little bit, avoid just spending the whole break on your phone. You’ll repeat this 4 times, and then at the end you can take a longer break (15-30 minutes). This is good if you’re focusing on a longer, more intense task.
Personally, I find the 25 minute intervals more distracting, so I like to work for about an hour and then take a break.
Another pro-tip here is to prepare a dedicated workspace. Even if it’s your kitchen table, make sure it’s somewhere you go to actually sit down and focus. Avoid sitting on the couch or other areas where you can quickly find yourself distracted.
Balance Housework with "Work"Work
One of the challenges I found when working from home is that housework and chores can easily find themselves taking over your workday if you don’t have a plan to manage them.
For example, if we leave the kitchen messy from dinner the night before, I often spend the first hour of my ‘work’ day cleaning the kitchen. I find it difficult to switch gears from being at ‘home’ to being at ‘work.’
One of the things I’ve found really helpful is to plan the next day, at the end of my current work day. I’ll write out everything I want to do, including chores and figure out how I can work that into my day. For example, it feels weird to me to take a lunch break when I’m working from home, but I’ll often prep our dinner around 3 or 4 instead and then go back to work while it cooks.
I’ve found this to be helpful for using my time more effectively. Another chore I like to work into my work day is laundry. I’ll start the load at the beginning of the day and then get started on a task. When I feel like I need a 15 minute break, I’ll put the laundry away (some of you might have way more laundry than me and might need a longer break).
What I find with this is that my working day is a bit longer, but I really have the evenings free to do what I want. I also like this because I feel like I don’t have to spend my entire weekend deep cleaning and I have a bit more time off!
What are your tips for making the most of working from home? We'd love to hear more in the comments!