5 tips for home working success
As a home office worker myself, I’ve created myself a technique. This allows me to get the most productivity from the day work-wise. Whilst allowing me to enjoy my home life. Whatever your home working style, here are 5 useful tips for successful home working.
1 Enjoy the commute
When working from home, the first thing to do is establish your respect for the job in hand. Allowing yourself to stay in bed an extra hour, or work all day in your pyjamas are not advantages of home-working. They are by-products which have no contributing factor to successful home working.
Instead, try to establish a working pattern similar to anyone employed in your sector, regardless of place of work.
I use my own experience as an example. My commute to the office in distance was around 10km and would take 50 minutes on public transport. My commute to my home office in comparison is about 5 metres, but it still takes me 50 minutes! Whereas I haven’t saved any time, I have put this time to much better use and saved a lot of energy. Energy I would otherwise have consumed with the pushing and shoving associated with London’s overcrowd public transport. I arrive fresh, yet I’ve spend 50 minutes preparing for the day. I have a seat (unlike public transport). I use the time to prepare my working day, set my objectives and visualise my goals. I also do some reading, ensuring my mind stays fresh and open to new insight.
I enjoy the commute and make it productive. I don’t need the extra sleep because of the energy I’m conserving by avoiding peak-rush hour travel!
2 Set goals
It’s important to have daily goals as a freelancer where you don’t have an external work cycle dictating your working day or week. Your goals should drive your achievements for the day and they should always be achievable to maintain your motivation through to the end. Goals are also very important when it comes to work-life balance. They help you stick to a pattern of working hours which allows you that personal time we all need outside our working lives. I set my goals during my commuting time (see above) each morning and I never carry-over a goal as a rule. If on occasion, I don’t achieve my goal by the end of the day, tomorrow is a different day and as such, any carry-over needs re-framing as a new goal.
3 Create a hard-stop
Goals and working hours go hand in hand if you are going to maximise your productivity, motivation, & prioritise the things that matter outside your working life. You need a hard-stop, except in exceptional circumstances. I used to go to the gym after work when I worked in an office many years ago. This is a bad example of a hard stop. Going to the gym was not something I felt motivated to do, more a necessity. Neither did it have a set-time. I could go to the gym at any time during the evening. This created extremely low productivity towards the end of the day. It also created scope-creep within my goals. The “I’ll just do this before leaving the office” would see a 10 min task often take double that, purely because it wasn’t related to my daily goals, and I’d broken a promise to myself with regards my hard-stop, because the impact on myself arriving late at the gym wasn’t a priority.
Today, my hard-stop each day is 7pm! Its 7pm when I switch the home-office light out for the night and go in-doors to bath my baby-girl, feed her and put her to bed. It’s something I love to do, my time with Daize, and it’s something that can’t slip! Understand what is important to you outside work and create your own motivational, time-sensitive hard-stop.
4 Talk isn’t cheap
Working from home creates a large physical barrier which is important to address. Lack of human interaction where the conversation strays from that of pure ‘work-talk’ is important to our minds health, our motivation and our well-being.
But if you work alone, or do not have regular contact with a work colleague that you get to know, they we have a tendency to keep our heads down and just plough through the day.
These moments of informal conversation are increasingly becoming digitised. The physical location is playing a lesser importance in interaction, both in and outside of organisations.
Tools such as Slack & Yammer are great for those social moments with colleagues, if you have colleagues. If however, you are a solo freelancer and want to use your voice once in a while rather than your keyboard to converse, then here is an idea for you!
Getting to know your local coffee shop barrister by name is a perfect way of creating some chit-chat on a regular basis. What I wouldn’t recommend is filling the water-cooler moment by making time to speak to a friend or partner. You have a lot more in common with people who are close to you. It can spiral and significantly eat in to your time. Plus, its much harder to conclude the conversation on your terms. When I need a little exercise, and want a few minutes chit-chat, I take a break, or some time-out to read something, pop-in to the local Starbucks and grab that 5 minutes informal conversation whilst waiting for my latte to be made!
5 Know ‘when’ is best for you
I googled what time of day our minds are at their most creative. I came across multiple scientifically-proven answers! So I realised, it’s not always about what science has proven, but what works best for you. I find that I can be more creative in the mornings. This is before my mind becomes awash with the details of work tasks. I find I can make head of numbers much better in the afternoon, when my mind identifies trends and reasoning better because the details I’ve been using throughout the day is front of mind.
So whilst everyone is different. And it is important to find your own pattern. Once you know your pattern, converting this in to a routine and habit is actually where the benefit to productivity is. The brain appreciates habits and the more you work at your daily home-working routine, the stronger you will become in your execution! If you want to read more on how your brain applies itself, this interesting blog on Lifehacker was one of the many articles my google search produced.
The key to a highly productive home working life, whilst ensuring your personal life does not suffer is structure, not rigidity!