I have been working in my home office for more than ten years. No matter if the Corona virus crisis (COVID-19) has forced to make you work from home or if you have other reasons to establish your home office > in this blog article I'll share my personal tips for making working from home enjoyable and successful.
TIP #1: SEPARATE WORK AND PRIVATE SPACE
The most important thing is to have a clear distinction between work mode and private mode. I live in a spacious 3 bedroom apartment and have no children. That means, that my 3rd room is my office.
I’m aware that most people don’t have the luxury of having a separate spare room just for office use, but still: Have a determined work space that is reserved for your work only. If you have to work at your living room desk because you lack the space, clear your desk from everything private when you work and clear your desk from work stuff when you finish your home office day.
TIP #2: PUR YOURSELF INTO (A MENTAL) WORK MODE
In order to work efficiently and get stuff done, you must make sure that you can concentrate. Stay focused at work and put your smartphone aside.
Put work clothes on. It might look weird to sit in your home office wearing a suit and a tie for example (or what else you would normally wear for work). So what? Who cares? Nobody sees you. But you will definitely sound different on the phone to clients and do your work more professionally, trust me.
TIP #3: SET SPECIFIC WORK TIMES
In order for yourself to be in a mental work mode and in order for your clients to know when they can reach you best, it’s good to set specific work times and stick to them. It helps to get a work routine into your daily business.
This also includes getting up early in the morning. Get up as if you had to get up to drive to an office elsewhere. Don’t sleep in!
I always get up at 7 am, also when no paid client work is booked in (which is not often, but still happens of course). Then I do administrative things like book-keeping, blog writing, calling clients I haven’t talked with for a while, marketing planning, content creation and so on: all the things that I don’t have time for when I’m really busy with paid client work.
TIP #4: CREATE A HEALTHY WORKPLACE
Make sure you look straight into your computer screen. In case you work with a laptop, put it on a specific laptop stand, so you don’t have to look down. If you constantly have to look down you will definitely run into painful neck problems that will lead to headaches in the long run. I had this problem in the beginning of my entrepreneurship and it made me nuts. I now work on an iMac that is straight in front of me. I look straight and never have any neck problems.
Sit up straight! What sounds like an order from back in the day at school, has a serious background. Having a good chair to sit on is very (yes, very!) important. I used to have a cheap chair which once caused me a huge back pain that forced me to call the emergency because I could not move any more, I was in so much back pain. In hospital, I was given an injection and I was sent to a physiotherapist for a few weeks who helped me get out of pain and told me to buy a better chair and move more during the day.
I then spent 300 Euros on an office chair which is the minimum amount you should spend on a good chair, I think. Additionally, I spent another 20 Euros on a special seating cushion that I have been sitting on for a few hours every day ever since. Sitting on that cushion makes my back automatically work its muscles to sit up straight. I sit on it for an hour, put it away again for an hour, sit on it again for an hour and so on. This way, I make sure that I won’t get back problems any more.
Watch this video at 4:00 to see my seating cushion:
Computer screens are back-lit, so they make your eyes tired easily. Make sure, you are surrounded by daylight. In the evenings or when it’s dark, switch a second light source on (the light from your computer screen is not enough), so you won’t get tired so easily.
TIP #5: GIVE DISTRACTIONS NO CHANCE
In order to work efficiently and get stuff done, you must make sure that you can concentrate. Hence, any distractions are bad and cost you time, nerves and energy. Studies have shown that every single distraction costs up to 20 minutes of concentration time to mentally get fully back into your project you’re currently working on.
Stay focused. How to achieve this in times of WhatsApp? Make sure you get no notifications on your phone (no sound and no notification banner popping up on your screen when you get an email, a Facebook or WhatsApp message). It should be an extra effort for you to check WhatsApp on your phone so you don’t check it so often.
The best thing would be to have times during the day where you force yourself not to check WhatsApp or social media. Example: no social media and WhatsApp from 9 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm. Believe me, you will get so much more done at work.
You think that’s not possible? Think again. Are you an emergency doctor? Will the world end if you don’t reply to an email, WhatsApp or Facebook message straight away?
Unless you are an emergency doctor, the answer is: no. So focus on your work and put your energy and time into what brings you food on the table and pays your rent: your work.
TIP #6: BE CONSEQUENT
Be consequent with yourself and people around you. After ten years of working from home I have come to the conclusion: Unfortunately, many people think that working from home means holiday or something like that. This compared with the (how I call it) WhatsApp mentality nowadays, can be a big problem for your business as you will lose a lot of valuable time and concentration what in the end causes you a lot of stress.
Remember: Every single distraction costs up to 20 minutes of concentration time to mentally get fully back into your project you’re currently working on.
If you give in and answer every private message or phone call during your set work times at home, you will find yourself in a position of not having finished your work by the time you are supposed to finish it, which then leads to working long evenings and having no free time any more to recover and clear your mind. Over time, this can become dangerous and even lead to a burnout scenario in the worst case.
So be consequent with yourself and others. If people around you don’t understand you actually work from home, it’s their problem, not yours. They don’t have to understand it, but they have to accept it and you have to make them accept it by setting the right signals.
Enjoy working from home! I’m curious to hear your experiences with working from home. Simply share them on my social media channels or in the comments box under this blog article.