I’ve been working home for a couple of years now (a little longer if we count the temporary remote work for my in-person job during the pandemic), and as a result, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to actually be productive at home.
Working from home definitely seems to have a weird stigma attached to it where a lot of people act like you aren’t actually working because you’re home, but at least for me, that hasn’t been the case. Pat of this is due to the nature of my job working in a destination marketing office during the pandemic, where work was extremely busy during that brief switch to working from home, and some of this is surely due to my being a 1099 employee in my next position, where I was paid for the work I produced and not the hours put into the workday.
Remote work definitely requires you know, actual work, but I will admit it is different when you’re home and away from any superiors, coworkers, and general office culture. I can see how some people may find it hard to focus and sit down to actually get work done, but I’ve come to love working from home since adding some specific points to my daily routine:
Find background noise that works for you
I never listened to my own music when I worked in-person jobs. I guess in some jobs I could have, but I was usually responsible for answering the phone and it just seemed like music would never help me be focused on work if it was constantly being interrupted.
In addition to the phone, and maybe this is my own sensory issue, but in the office I wouldn’t want to have multiple sounds going. If any of my coworkers were playing music without headphones, I wouldn’t want to do the same because the two different sounds would drive me nuts (and if I wore headphones, the phone thing would also bother me.)
Then there’s every other interruption that comes with working in person– Unexpected small talk with coworkers, clients or customers walking in, etc… I never thought it was hard for me to focus in the office, but since working from home, I’ve found that having the opportunity to totally control the sounds in my workspace has made me hyper-focused and I’m able to get tasks done quicker.
I’m constantly updating different Spotify playlists to basically go with the vibe of the workday or what particular project I’m working on, and doing so has just been a bigger gamechanger than I would have ever thought in terms of getting me to stay focused on work.
Use an app/program to keep your tasks organized
I recently transitioned from my previous role as an editor/website manager to a project manager position, and as such I’ve begun using Trello again. I’ve used Trello before, but got away from it when I began freelancing full time (which I now realize is crazy, because Trello is great for organizing everything in your personal life as well as any job.)
I LOVE using Trello for my job now though as a way to keep track of multiple to-do lists for different projects and to share with the rest of the team resources they may need and where we’re at with various projects.
Trello isn’t the only program like this, it’s just my favorite one– If you’re looking for a way to get organized, you may want to check out Asana and Monday as well.
Get away from your desk and go outside
This one is so hard in the winter, especially for me living in New England, because when the weather is crappy I do not want to leave the house, but I think it’s really important. When I worked in the office, I’d be going out to buy lunch and running other errands throughout the day. At home, I try not to buy lunch because it makes more sense to cook since I have access to my kitchen, and it can be really easy to just stay in all day.
I try to go for walks for the exercise benefit, but if it seems like I won’t have time during the workday for a decent walk, I’ll at least walk to a local coffee shop in the morning before I start work for the day, or if I have no meetings, I’ll walk to the library and do some work there.
If the weather is actually terrible, I’ll prioritize using the Peloton just because some extra movement even if it’s riding a stationary bike in my bedroom just helps break up the day and keep me focused.