Working from home is many people’s dream but it can be challenging and daunting. Temptation to just go with the flow can be huge. Professional organiser Chantal Imbach, of Simply In Order, shares the power of routines.
There are plenty of good reasons to work from home. Some do it voluntarily and they thrive, others fall into it and may find it really hard.
I’m assuming you love what you do. Which is exactly what can make it so difficult to switch off and call it a day. It’s even more challenging if you own the business.
Due to plenty of misconceptions about working from home, some onlookers might think you hang around in your pyjamas all day, are unmotivated, lonely or antisocial – not to mention completely unaccountable for your time. This can, in fact, happen to home workers who are totally overwhelmed by the new freedom.
This is where routines come in. Well-established routines make your days easier and more productive. Some people will need only minimal structure; others, particularly those who find discipline and motivation hard to maintain, will require more routines and more time to transform them into habits.
So, what can routines do for you?
- They simplify your life
- They reduce stress and help you to be more relaxed
- They give you structure
- They help you to work towards a goal
- They foster habits
My top 11 routines for working-from-home
1. Define work days and hours. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the same days every week or from 9am-5pm. As a home worker, you have the flexibility to shape working days around family commitments, leisure activities or the natural ebb and flows of your workload. Personally, I have set days for certain work but I swap them if necessary. After all, this flexibility was a big incentive for me to become my own boss and work from home. Maybe you’re a night owl and more creative and productive in the evening? So, by all means, schedule your work or part of it into that timeslot. The working hours and days you choose need to take into account the nature of your business and clients, but as a home worker, you have the opportunity to shape your work around you life, and not the other way around.
2. Good morning! Start your day with a healthy and energizing morning routine. Set your alarm clock and don’t be tempted to sleep in on your workdays. Have a shower and breakfast and maybe even a short workout to start the day full of energy. Whatever gets you into gear.
3. Dress like you’d be going to work. This helps you to switch into ‘work mode’.
4. Have a break. Allow yourself at least one break in the workday. Sit down for lunch, go out to meet someone, go for a walk or read. If you have a tendency to forget the time because you’re so immersed in your work, set a timer. Many who work from home are glued to the screen all day. So, try to do something else during the break to give your eyes a rest, too.
5. Have a dedicated workspace. Define a space in your home as your workspace and make it a nice, tidy and inspiring place to be in. Whether it’s a whole room such as an office or only a desk or a table in the corner of your living room doesn’t matter. Personally, I prefer a room so I can close the door and symbolically call it a day. Try not to let your work take over the entire home. It is easier to switch off when your work isn’t constantly in your face.
6. Buddy up! If you struggle with concentrating on your work because of distractions in the home, find someone to be your accountability buddy. This can work over the phone or by meeting your buddy to work next to each other, be it in a public place or at home.
7. Get out! Some people can’t work when it’s too quiet. So, why not take your laptop to the library, the park or a café?
8. Plan your day. Typically, the to-do-lists of people working from home are endless. Hopefully, you will have your long-term and short-term goals set. However, you also need to break them down into daily tasks. My recommendation: allow a few minutes before you finish your workday to plan the next day. This prevents you from worrying that you might forget something. And don’t forget to allow time for breaks, too. Done? Go and enjoy your free time!
9. Stick to your plan. Take your work and yourself seriously. Don’t go to meet friends for coffee when you had a working day planned. Be honest and say that you’ve got a working day. Your work is not worth less just because you might not leave the house for it. Having said that, the beauty of working from home is more flexibility. Allow yourself some spontaneity from time to time – just not every time. Because, trust me, a lot of people will assume that you are available anytime, and you will need to work hard and consistently to convince them otherwise.
10. Call it a day. Stick to your closing time. If this is 5pm, stop doing what you’re working on and continue the next day. This is probably the hardest habit to adopt, and not always possible, but do give it a try.
11. Arrive in the ‘home mode’. Establish a daily routine that helps you to switch off. Consciously close the door to your workplace, or sit down to enjoy a cup of tea. Maybe you prefer going for a walk, cooking dinner or reading the paper – there are endless possibilities. This helps your mind to switch off and to switch to ‘leisure’ or ‘home’ mode.
You might use other routines or already have established some of those mentioned. Not all might work for you. Try to tweak them, so they meet your needs.