Now that it’s been over a year, we thought it would be good to revisit the How to Achieve Success When Working From Home blog from March 2020. The idea of the original post was to help those who were challenged by the new work-from-home environment by sharing the knowledge that we’ve gathered over 15 years of working from home ourselves. Much has changed since that post was published, and it’s time we updated it with the things we’ve learned.
Self-care is essential for any kind of success in life. You can work yourself to the bone and reach your goal, but if your health suffers for it, it isn’t a success. This holds true whether you’re facing the struggles of a pandemic or not. Take a breath, slow down, and take care of yourself.
Setting boundaries is a big aspect of success when working from home. You need to be able to communicate with your family, friends, and whomever else may be in your home or online about what you need when you’re working. Requesting that they give you your space, stay relatively quiet, and respect your working hours is not only reasonable, but necessary for you to work efficiently. And while they may respect your needs, you need to keep yourself in check as well, by limiting phone usage, TV breaks, and whatever else may distract you from your tasks.
It can be hard to settle into a rhythm when working from home. Your entire schedule is disrupted, and while the flexibility can be great for some people, others work better with a routine. Balance is key. Set a time for when you work, but don’t overdo it; if yours is a career where breaks are possible, then remember that it’s okay to move about when you need to. At the same time, this kind of environment can encourage procrastination and enable distraction. Appropriate breaks will look different for everyone, so test out your routine, and see what works best for you.
Although working on the couch can be nice, if you’re used to working at a desk, that kind of environmental shift can end up sending the wrong message to your brain. If you end up in “relax” mode instead of “work” mode, it will be that much harder to focus on your tasks. If you create a dedicated workspace, whether it’s a corner of the dining room table or a desk in your office, you can teach your mind that when you’re there, work is done.
External and internal noise
There are a million things trying to grab our attention outside of our homes. Inside used to be our safe place away from all of the noise of the outside world. However, the lines between work and play have blurred to the point where the inside of our homes can be just as loud as the outside world. Now, we are faced with the need to redefine those boundaries in a way that allows us to still be productive without overlooking our need for space. Those boundaries will have to be drawn differently for everyone, but what matters is that they are drawn effectively.
Appreciating the opportunity
Many of us probably won't be able to work from home for the rest of our lives. In no way is this transition easy, but even so, working from home provides an unprecedented amount of freedom. Take advantage of that opportunity while you can; create a flex schedule, stop to make lunch in your kitchen, or take an afternoon walk. Chances are, this level of flexibility won’t roll around again.
As we transition into hybrid work environments, what we found to work in a pandemic lockdown may not work anymore. Regularly checking up on what’s effective and what isn’t is key to continued success in our changing world.
Different tactics work for different people, and while we have tested these tips and can vouch for them, your experience may be different. Maybe your mind functions best when you’re in the clothes you’d wear in the office, but someone else might work best in their pajamas. At the end of the day, you know yourself better than we do, but what’s universal is the need to make an impact in our prospective roles - how you choose to get that done is up to you..