3 Tips for Effectively Working From Home, From a Full-Timer
Working from home was always my dream. The deep craving I had for freedom from the 9-5 and autonomy to work in my own style drove me to create the deeply satisfying home-based career I now have. But what nobody can really prepare you for is the adjustment period that comes in-between. A deep sense of free fall – the strange combination of exhilaration and dread, of making a leap without knowing where you’ll land- comes after leaving a life you’ve lived for over a decade. Even though I willingly chose to make this change, starting a new life I was forging in the moment was daunting.
I can only imagine how so many of you must feel now, to be forced into the same situation. After speaking with so many friends now working from their own home-based workspaces, I see how my dream to work from home has been a nightmare for many finding themselves suddenly lacking office resources, childcare and socialization with peers. The leap moment I experienced as a triumph might feel to you like you’re falling over the edge. My heart goes out to you. But I promise – you’ll get through it. We’ll get through it together.
I promise – you’ll get through it. We’ll get through it together.
Millions of Americans are working from home (WFH) for the first time. As an entrepreneur, I worked from home evenings for a while before I was able to quit my day job to write full-time. I have experience writing from almost anywhere, in the middle of almost anything – in conference halls, on airplanes, in hotel rooms, at libraries, coffee shops, the in-laws’ basement. That being the case, and since WFH is our collective reality for the foreseeable future, I thought I’d put together the practices I’ve personally found most effective for managing that WFH life. Self-disciplined practices like these make all the difference in how I work in my business, and I hope they help you make the most of your time WFH.
Pick a place and park it
It might feel weird to be in your home space and be expected to work, but it’s part of WFH. It’s kinda in the name. For an effective start, pick one place to designate as your work area – preferably where you can sit comfortably and properly in an actual chair at an actual work surface. If you don’t have a spare room with a desk or table, a dining room table works nicely. Get your laptop and settle in – welcome to your new workstation. Establishing an area where you can mentally separate being ‘at work’ from regular home life is a very effective psychological hack that will improve your ability to focus. The couch, the bed, the big comfy chair with your cat in your lap are great for restful times, but not as much while you’re trying to get work done. Set a workstation boundary early on, and your more focused mind will thank you for it.
Figure out your working style
Are you the kind of person who can sit and work for hours without getting up? Or do you work intensely in short bursts with breaks throughout the day? Do you feel more focused early in the morning, at midday, or after lunch? Answering these questions will help you determine your optimal working style. WFH for those with less experience is already rife with opportunity for distraction (more on that in a sec), so you want to make the most of the day by getting sh*t done in a way that optimizes your own brain’s physiological needs. If you’re foggy in the mornings, use those hours to do basic data entry or answer simple emails. If you know your energy droops in the afternoon, front load your workday so you get the most important work done in the morning when you’re alert.
Chatty spouses, rambunctious children, needy furkids, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, household chores… What do these all have in common? They’re distracting AF to the WFH crew. Even the most self-disciplined among us has gotten sideswiped by our own good intentions because after we decided to ‘just throw a load of laundry in real quick,’ before we know what’s happened we’re tits up on the couch with Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. IT’S HARD. Distractions are by and large one of the biggest pitfalls of WFH, because 95% of them are self-inflicted.
Maybe you’re already a powerhouse of self-discipline, but being home presents noise as an issue. I feel you. Having a place where you can close a door on the inevitable household noises or put on headphones that play white noise can make a big difference in your productivity. Regardless of the source of your distractions, you have to practice at it. It gets much easier to focus when you decide ahead of time that nothing but nothing is getting in your way.
Be disciplined, persist, and watch the magic unfold.
We’re living in a very interesting time in history. WFH in the millions as we’re doing in the States could change the landscape of the American workplace forever. At the very least, it reveals the true viability of the remote working option in a labor system that’s long enforced in-person attendance. However long we find ourselves working from home, the qualities most important to achieving positive WFH outcomes are self-discipline and persistence. Given, they’re not radical or sexy, but there’s no magic bullet that can put all your WFH concerns to bed. It’s your mindset, and the subsequent work environment you create for yourself that will determine your results. Be disciplined, persist, and watch the magic unfold.