24 Mar 2020

How to work from home

by Joan

I’m pretty sure there’s a part of everyone that secretly enjoyed the news of mandatory work from home. Can you imagine not putting on make-up, working in your favorite hoodie, and not dreading the morning work commute? Yep, it was all extremely fun for the first few days, in the honeymoon phase. This, like any other honeymoon, has come to an end and procrastination is just around the corner waiting with the playlist of 100+ cute animals. 

Luckily, this doesn’t necessarily need to be the end of our productivity. Here’s how.

Set up a dedicated workplace

Finding a quiet place to work from home is not easy but it is extremely important. Without it, you’ll never really start with your workday and won’t finish until the late-night hours. Why? Because our brains will happily take a glance at that playlist with cute animals every 15min or so. Dedicating a clear signal that we’re in a work mode will enable us to stay focused and avoid distractions easily. Having a home office is a straightforward answer, but what can you do without one? 

Here are some tips on how to create a workplace at home:

  • Use the same tablecloth for covering a table before you dive into work. The table cloth will associate any surface as your workplace. So you can simply work in your dining room, living room, and anywhere else you’ll find a desk. 
  • Always have the same set-up. Were you used to work next to a cup of joe, a notebook, and a water bottle? It makes sense to replicate those conditions. Place the items next to your laptop when you’re starting with your workday. Don’t forget to put them away once you’re done with your work.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable. Really, grab the best chair in your house and make the most out of your workplace. No amount of set up will help you out if you’re physically suffering. 


Establish a daily routine

Try not to work 24/7. I know it’s super challenging, I still do it sometimes. But it’s not good for your mental health and you’ll start to burn out. The best advice I have? Start your morning like you would have if you’d be going to work. Wake up early, eat breakfast and make sure you’re at your work station on time!

Don’t forget about the breaks. While in the office it was fairly easy to strike a chat with a coworker or maybe take a short walk around the office when going to your meeting. Now, you’re pretty much stuck in one place. So make sure you set up regular breaks, stretch, and walk around. Some fresh air is also advised. Most importantly, stop. I know there’s a lot to do but it can wait until tomorrow, trust me. To avoid working after hours, also make plans for the afternoon. Do you have a book you’ve purchased last year and its back is still not broken? Well, dig in!

Create daily to-do lists

Time is too arbitrary when you’re staying at home the whole day. That’s why it’s important to clearly set what needs to be done within the workday timeframe. However, don’t put too much on your plate for one day, because it’ll feel demoralizing when you won’t make it. 

One of my favorite tips is to break down your daily tasks into manageable chunks. Even if a chunk is just an email, you’ll feel good about yourself once you’ll send it. Another important thing is to estimate how much time each task will take you (make a little note). That’ll push you towards the finishing line as well as become a signal when you’re trying to squeeze in too many tasks. 

Embrace apps for communication

I’ll go out on a line here and say you’re not a one-man-band. That’s fine, but it’s an additional layer of challenges work from home brings. There are several types of collaboration tools, the most obvious one being communication tools. I won’t touch upon the other’s, it’s a whole other blog post. When it comes to communication tools, here’s what to follow to stay productive:

  • Turn off notifications when you’re in deep work – stay focused and get rid of the urge to check the latest notification (or 10). It’s hard to do it on your own, so just hit that pause button. 
  • Use email for anything important – communication tools are fun and efficient but any important info can easily get lost. So if it’s something super important, go with the email. It’ll probably stay in the inbox forever and the follow up is easy.
  • Stop with the public water cooler chat – honestly, you’re just blowing up notifications for everyone and disturbing their work for a no good reason. Take your chat to a dedicated channel where it won’t bother anyone that doesn’t want to get involved. 

Run efficient and effective meetings

Let’s face it – work from home didn’t save us from all the meetings. However, now is the perfect opportunity to finally make them effective and efficient. How?

  • Never book a meeting longer than 30min. There’s one great thing about conference calls – easy exit. No more hanging around the meeting room and having a friendly chit chat. Once you’re done, you can simply leave and it’s not rude at all. Why 30 min? It’s long enough for most of the syncs and even brainstorming sessions when everyone attending came prepared. 
  • Be online a few minutes before the meeting. Those extra minutes will give you a chance to join the meeting and test your audio/video equipment. Don’t waste everyone’s time toggling with settings if you could do it before the meeting. 
  • Send out a meeting agenda and take meeting minutes. In its structure, conference calls are not much different than your standard go-to meetings. Be prepared and give everyone else a chance to join prepared by sending out the agenda. Don’t forget about actionable meeting minutes afterward. We’re prepared blog posts on meeting agenda and meeting minutes

Staying focused and efficient is definitely not the easiest part of the whole work from home experience. That’s why we’ve decided to start developing work from home functionalities that’ll help you out with achieving your daily goals.
Be the first one to hear about it and sign up today!