But before I get to the tips and tricks (spoiler: there are no magic tricks), here’s a full disclaimer: I still suck quite badly at working from home, as you might have guessed from my internal dialogue.
So instead of being a smart-ass on what works, I’d rather be honest and talk about what most definitely does not and solutions to that. Solutions that I know work but I just don’t have the necessary discipline (at the moment, at least) or work to go through with it.
What not to do:
1. Work from anywhere.
I usually start working at my desk, totally concentrated, and then slowly move over to the couch eventually (guess where I’m writing this from? hint, it’s not the desk) and then keep wondering why my low back and neck keep hurting at the end of the day.
Solution: Set a space. It doesn’t have to be a whole room or even a whole desk (I share mine with my partner) but somewhere that’s your “office.” Somewhere where you come with a purpose and that helps you get into work headspace.
2. Work anytime.
My motivation and my concentration vary so much during the day. I start quite motivated-ish but then somewhere in the early afternoon all my ideas, my wakefulness plummets and all I can do then is stare at the computer and do…well, not much.
Solution: If your work schedule allows flexibility, work during the hours you know you can get most done during and leave those less productive parts of the day for activities that you don’t need much thinking capacity for like cooking lunch, putting the washing on, walk the dog.
3. Have no boundaries.
Working from home can quite quickly feel like you’re working all the damn time—there are always more emails to be answered, things left on your to-do list, Zoom meetings—but only if you let it.
Solution: Don’t forget to set a cut-off time for work and don’t look at work emails after that hour. Also, don’t have your work emails on your phone or if you do, turn off wi-fi on your phone or close the mail app on your computer and don’t look at those until the next morning. You'll survive, I promise. And so will your clients.
4. Keep your phone close.
Oh yeah, my vice. “I’m just going to see if I’ve got any new messages” usually turns into a few-minute mindless scrolling that on more occasions than not leaves me feeling depleted and most definitely not more motivated than I was before.
Solution: Put your phone away and put it on airplane mode. I don't think this one needs any further explanation.
5. Feel bad about not getting anything done.
Let's face it, some days are just not productive and we end up watching videos of raccoons dancing for hours (yes, it has happened to me, don't judge) and you know what? That's okay. Tomorrow will (most likely) be different.
Solution: Cut yourself some slack. And watch some more raccoons dancing videos.
Do I have a magical solution? Sadly, no, but I do think my productivity would be significantly better if I followed my own advice.
Tell me, do you have any tips and tricks (or even magic tricks) that I'm forgetting about?