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Effectively Working from Home

This week marks one year since I made the switch to my current job. With the obvious changes that come with switching jobs, my company is 100% remote. I spent the last 15 years working in offices. I traveled occasionally in the last 5 years which took me away from my desk. I did spend some time living and working from home in Toronto. It wasn’t the ideal setup for a home office. I’m still working on my new workspace and routine. Here are some tips on effectively work from home.

Designate a workspace

Laptops give you the flexibility to work just about anywhere. I see that as a negative because it means you really can work anywhere. It also means you can work anytime. The first thing any remote worker should do is designate a space in their house that is only for work. I purchased a Mac Mini for my office. I did it because I needed to upgrade my computer and installing a desktop computer meant that I have to work from my desk. I still use my laptop. I have designated the Mac Mini as my work computer. It makes it easier to enter the right headspace for work when I’m in my “office.” Give some thought to how you create your workspace.

Establish your work hours

When I worked in an office, we were expected to put in a certain number of hours per week. That can fluctuate depending on your job. I won’t prescribe a number of hours here. Whatever your work schedule, it’s important to stick to it. In my first remote work stint, I often found myself working all hours because I could work while I watched television in the evening. Today, I bookend my day with a morning and evening routine that takes me away from my desk.

Set a routine

My morning routine is similar to when I had a commute. I still get up, get dressed, workout and have coffee. The lack of an hour-long commute gives me the flexibility to add in reading and writing. My commute to the office is now upstairs and rarely do I run into traffic unless the dogs follow along. Reo, my Lab-Weimaraner mix, is so set in his routine that he will tell me when it’s time to work. He will stand at the stairs until I follow. Check out my morning routine.

My evening routine is more fluid. When my workday is over, I shut all of my work-associated programs down and head down to the living room to decompress with my family. We will take a walk together or just hang out and talk. I try to avoid going directly from work to some other task to avoid burning myself out.

Take breaks

You have the option to head to the water cooler or chat with others in an office setting. I have the luxury of my wife and two dogs at home. Although my coworkers love to sleep on the job, I can take a break to decompress with them during the day. I’m talking about my dogs sleeping, of course. If you’re alone all day, then make sure you have a way to break up the day. Take a walk, workout or just sit and read. Do something that takes your mind off work and helps you to recharge.

Manage inputs and distractions

It’s far too easy to turn on the television or watch YouTube videos all day. I like to work with music while I’m head down and in a flow state. My favorite playlist. Aside from the obvious distractions, I also like to manage all notifications. We use email and Slack. It’s easy to switch tasks when you are notified of something seemingly important. Here’s a secret: It’s not that important. Avoid task switching and try to only check those different apps a few times daily. This is called Batching. Suffice it to say, you’ll be much more effective if you can manage inputs. I go a step further and batch my email sends so that I don’t receive replies periodically throughout the day.

Enjoy it

I love working from home. I have decorated my office with lots of action figures, bobble heads, and LEGO.

My desk is clean and minimal because I find that helps to keep me centered. Whatever you do, whether you follow these tips or others, make sure you enjoy it. That’s the key to effectively working from home.

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