It’s been almost three months since I became a full-time work from home employee (for my career, not my blog). In keeping it 100% honest with y’all, I’ll admit I’ve been lazy AF. I’ve been productive on a business level and I’ve been far happier on a personal level but I’ve also been a total slob. I’ve done things I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing when I had to report to the office every day. In less than 2 months I was feeling like a shadow of my former self and I knew that it was going to be a total #fail if I didn’t make some serious changes to my daytime routine.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been making minor changes to my routine in an attempt to break out of the lazy rut and get myself back on track. The #1 thing I realized was that my laziness had infiltrated my life far more than I had imagined. Sometimes you don’t realize how far down the rabbit hole you’ve fallen until you try to climb back out. I mean, I painted my nails the other night and realized it was my first mani since we moved. Like…that’s insane. Being a remote work from home employee is amazing provided that you have enough self-control to avoid falling into lazy slob status.
If you’re thinking about switching up your schedule to start working from home full-time, here are a few of my top tips to set you up for success.
Top Tips for Success When You Work From Home
Invest in a dedicated office space
Three months ago my office doubled as our guest bedroom but that big comfy bed and the relaxation vibe didn’t do my productivity any favors. We finally decided I needed a dedicated work space and we invested the money into making that happen. We bought a new desk with a built-in filing cabinet, a supportive desk chair, and new shelving for me to display a few favorite personal items. We also purchased new semi-sheer curtains for the windows so I can open the space up to natural light and still preserve my privacy. Everything else that made it a “bedroom” was moved out.
Where the bed used to be is now a large table I can use for staging blog photography as well as a space for me to mount my phone for Facebook Live and IG Live videos.
Set clear office hours
Be clear about your office hours when you work from home and stick to them. If you have family members at home during your office hours, post a sign on your door that clearly outline when you’ll be available for personal matters. If you have a home landline, don’t keep the phone in the office with you and update your home voicemail to indicate your office hours.
If personal visitors knock or ring the bell, don’t answer the door. If you expect a lot of packages like I do for my blog, leave a note on the door asking the delivery person to leave the packages at the door or in a designated area. I have a sign that requests delivery personnel to drop packages at our back door. Our backdoor is adjacent to my office and visible from my office window. I know when packages are delivered and there’s no likelihood of theft. It also keeps me from being disrupted by a random knock just to drop off a PR box.
Check in with the office several times a day
I’m always a little paranoid that my co-workers back in Atlanta are going to think I’m watching TV or slacking off when I should be working so I make it a point to check in with them several times a day. I’ll check in with them about project updates via our instant messenger (Hipchat) and use the screen-sharing feature to go over work assignments or I’ll send an update e-mail. I also make sure I’m present during all of our remote meetings and I actively participate to show I’m engaged with project plans and assignments.
We also use tools like Trello, Asana, and JIRA for project management. JIRA in particular tracks when an individual updates or modifies a page so you can easily track a user’s activity. All of this helps you stay connected to your team when you work from home and less like a lone wolf.
Write it down and plan it out
When I had to go to the office every day I was religious about keeping my planner up to date. Since I became a work from home employee my planner has been neglected. I was feeling less distracted by office happenings and I stopped writing my to-do lists down. As a result, sometimes personal to-do lists took precedent or I forgot simple tasks because I no longer had the visual reminder. Going back to using my planner as my go-to resource has kept me on track and boosted my productivity back to normal levels.
I find that as long as I have a visual list of daily tasks, it doesn’t really matter if or how I’m interrupted because I’ll get things done by the end of the day.
Tune out non-work related noises
One of my favorite noise-related tools is Coffitivity. It’s a website that simulates the sounds you would typically hear in a coffee shop. Since I’m used to working in a software office and hearing design + development teams debating new features, hearing muffled voices and sounds helps me focus. If you prefer other ambient sounds, you may like one of these apps instead. Whatever you do, you want to tune out the sounds of “home.” That means no television, no laundry machines, no ice makers, no doorbells, etc. If you prefer to work to music, either use noise-cancelling headphones or set the speaker close to your desk so you’re not distracted by the noises outside your office door.
Keep a consistent schedule
What time do you log on for work in the morning? What time do you log off? When is your lunch break? What about your afternoon break? Keeping a consistent schedule when you work from home makes it easier on both you and the office. I’m fortunate because I have my dogs to hold me accountable. They expect to go outside by 7:30 each morning so I log on after bringing them inside, usually about 8am. I take a morning break around 10:30am and the dogs eat breakfast, and so on. Everyone, at home and in the office, knows what to expect from me at what time.
Take a shower and get dressed
Avoiding THIS is the #1 sign of achieving lazy slob status. I should know, I was there. Y’all, taking a shower and putting on actual clothes isn’t asking that much and it does huge things for your mindset. I have found that it is hugely important for me to shower and put on clothes I didn’t sleep in the night before. I’m not saying you have to wear a full business suit (I don’t) but if you slept in it you shouldn’t be wearing it for work. I still rock yoga pants and a graphic tee on occasion but I have been deliberate about keeping sleep clothes away from “work” clothes. My normal work from home uniform is jeans and a comfy sweater (especially now that Fall is on its way!).
Now, I’m rocking this work from home thing! Any other work from home tips to share? Tweet me @ashleyfromhp or drop your thoughts below.