Tips For Working From Home That You Can Actually Use
Luckily for me I had experience working from home before the pandemic started. I started Cloud27 in February of 2018 as a home-based graphic design studio and have been running my the business part-time while working another part-time job. As of March 1st, 2020 I transitioned from part-time to running the business full time and I have to admit, it wasn’t the greatest timing. But I had no idea what was coming.
While business has screeched to a halt for the time being the least I can do is share some of my insight to try and help people through a difficult time.
If you are new to working from home, I do have to admit that it’s going to be a rocky start. Your schedule will be off, you will sleep less, you will forget things. If you are working from home and are employed by a business, you may have it a little bit easier as you don’t have to worry about the back end of the business and keeping it operational. But if you are a business owner who isn’t used to working from home. Get ready..
Working from home can be great. It has awesome benefits but it can also be extremely unhealthy if you aren’t disciplined. I know I had a pretty tough time maintaining a good work-life balance in the beginning and it really took a toll on my health. I want to share some of the things I learned in the hopes of helping someone transition to working from home in a healthier manner.
1. You need a scheduling process.
Don’t be a fool. Use a tool. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you have a good memory because you will quickly see how it will fail you. There are tons of free productivity apps out there that can help you keep track of your life. Some of the biggest issues I faced in the beginning of working from home was not being able to shut my brain off because I was constantly trying to keep things organized in my head.
Keeping your work, thoughts and ideas written down and organized will help relieve your stress and will help you sleep better. I use Notion to organize my entire business. From project management, to process documentation, knowledge bases, note-keeping, reminders, CRM, collaboration. I use it for everything. I started using Trello but from the beginning, it lacked the functionality that I wanted. I found Notion and I couldn’t be happier. Think of it as a combination of Monday, Asana and Trello all in one!
2. Communicate with your spouse.
This is 100% my number 1 rule. But I put it as number 2 because I didn’t want to turn single people away from the article muaha. I’m not talking any if that “happy wife, happy life” bullshit. It’s more “happy spouse, happy house.” But it doesn’t have to be your spouse. If you are single or live with roommates or other family members, the important thing is to clearly communicate your intentions and everyone to be 100% onboard. Talk to your spouse and your family and get on the same page. It is a terrible mistake to expect the people you are living with to just understand what you are doing and why. You work your ass off but it seems like other people just don’t get it or appreciate your hard work and effort. I know first hand that this can lead to a lot of stress, but it’s your own fault.
Working from home is a lifestyle and mindset shift. Balancing remote work life and a family can be tough at times without proper communication and planning. It takes time and adaptability to get it right with clear communication between all parties involved. And that begins with you and your ability to say what you are thinking.
3. Adopt a mobile workflow.
Yes, I know it’s first world problems, but having to always open your laptop to complete a quick task can get annoying. It can also cause people to become less effective when they are exposed to more distractions. Integrating your phone or tablet into your workflow is a way of making your life a little easier and more convenient. Even if it’s something as simple as connecting your email to your phone or downloading an app that helps with your day to day. The freedom of being able to sit out in the backyard for an hour and still staying productive is a nice feeling.
4. Talk to yourself.
I know it sounds weird and depending on your job, this may not apply to you. But if you spend a lot of time working from home in isolation and you don’t talk on the phone very often, you will be bad at having conversations if you don’t practice. I went from working in retail sales to stuttering during a meeting at a coffee shop because I spent so much time isolating myself and not engaging with others. You will be surprised how talking to yourself and rehearsing your content out loud can help.
5. Decrease screen time. Avoid the 10 second scroll.
Something I am still trying to work on is decreasing screen time. I know I said to adopt a mobile workflow, but there is a time to work and there is a time to not. We are at home sitting in front of a screen all day and we don’t have the pressure of being in a work environment to keep us off our phone. I don’t know how many times I catch myself pulling out my phone, opening a social platform, scrolling for 10 seconds and then putting it away. Working from home does not help this issue.
We are overloaded with screens right now and it can have a negative effect on your body. Something that helps me avoid the “10 Second Scroll” is intentionally leaving my phone in another room or turning it off. This gives you some buffer time when you feel that urge to pull out your phone and go for a scroll and it can help you stay off it for a while.
6. Agreements over expectations.
This one was a game-changer, not only in my business but in my life. Never assume anything and never expect anyone else to either. This is where all projects and relationships fail. Business or personal. Resentment, irritation and regret build up in a person who is expecting something from someone and that someone doesn’t deliver.
“You were home all day, why didn’t you clean the house?” is a common example of miscommunication between two people in a work from home dynamic and could easily be solved by coming to agreements instead of expecting someone to think the same way you are.
7. Kids bothering you? Put them to work!
The first question is, are they really bothering you? Or do you just not want them in the room because that is what you are used to? Are they breaking your concentration or are they just showing interest? It is important to set boundaries and timeframes. Which is why scheduling your day is really important. But you have to be flexible. Not everything is going to land right on the nose. If you do have times when the kids are around while you are working, I find it’s best to let them join in rather than sending them away just for them to come back in 5 minutes. Now is a great time more than ever to introduce or teach your kids about what you do and maybe some real-life lessons that go along with that.
My kids are young so just participation is heaven for them. But if your kids are older, now is a great time to teach them things they would never get in school. Colouring pictures, drawing, taking notes, organizing papers. If they are old enough, even get them to go through your email list and start unsubscribing to unwanted emails. Supervised of course.
8. You don’t have to work alone.
If you are really looking for a platform that could change your working dynamic in a remote-friendly economy, then you need to check out Discord. Discord is a communication app originally used by gamers who wanted to set up custom and private audio chats while they play video games.
Think of it as a combination of Slack and the audio version of Zoom. You can set up multiple channels just like Slack and you also have “Voice Channels” as well. These are great for casual conversations and meetings. Think of using Slack and being able to speak with someone or multiple people with the click of a button.
This dynamic of “playing with your friends” is great providing a casual and social vibe to your workflow. This really helps humanize the remote work life. It’s also a great way to collaborate and work with your team.
9. It really is about who you know.
The unfortunate part of working from home, especially as a business owner, is that it really is about who you know. Being good at what you do is only the cost of entry in today’s economy. The relationships and connections you make throughout your career will be directly responsible for your success. No business owner has ever done it alone. And you won’t be the first.
10. Don’t work in distracting environments.
Setting up a space where you can keep your stuff organized is important. Everyone says you need to have your own dedicated spot that you can call your own. And that is where you go to work to keep yourself focused. Yes, setting up a space to keep yourself organized is I’m important. But it doesn’t have to be restricting.
The important thing is to rid yourself of anything you would find distracting to the work you are doing at the time. If you are deep in the woods and you need to put your head down and concentrate. Then yes you need to go to your own space. But if you are maybe sketching some ideas, doing some general admin, sending emails, or writing out some to-do lists.. I work in the backyard, on the couch, in my bedroom and in my office. Being comfortable is important too. You don’t have to sit at a desk in an office chair all day.