If you sell online, you may already be used to working from home. Or perhaps COVID-19 has forced you into running your business from your sofa instead of your office. Whatever the case may be, it can be hard to stay productive and healthy when you’re operating from your living room. Here are some of our tips for making working from home a success.
1. Separate work from leisure
One of the biggest challenges for when you’re first starting to work from home is keeping your work life separate from the rest of your life. With the constant pressure of email—and without the physical divide that an office brings—there’s a temptation to always be working. If you’re not careful, that can lead to burnout.
Conversely, you want to stay focused on work and not distracted by the rest of your life. Keeping yourself in the work zone can be difficult when you’re not in an office environment.
Both problems require you to take steps to separate your work and leisure time. Here are some tips for how to do that.
Although you could do all your work in your pajamas, we wouldn’t recommend it. Getting dressed puts you in the mindset that you’ve woken up and are ready to do work. It puts you into professional mode so you can easily jump onto that emergency Zoom call to handle the latest crisis.
Create a schedule and stick to it
Decide what hours of the day are the ones you’re going to be working. Crack open your laptop at your start time and close it when you finish. Keeping a strict schedule will keep work from creeping into every hour of your life. It also will improve your focus and productivity for the time that you allocate to work, because you’ll be in that work mindset.
Your schedule also doesn’t need to be 9-5. If you’re more productive in the mornings get up early. If you’re a night owl start late and work late. Work at the times that makes sense for your business and your internal clock.
Create a workspace
Creating a specific working area that is distraction-free can dramatically boost productivity. This could be a quiet place in your house, or you can create a mental one by investing in some quality noise cancelling headphones. Again, having a workspace allows you to get into that work mindset that you’d otherwise create by going to the office.
For your workspace, it can also be helpful to have separate laptops/computers for work and recreation. This will allow you to physically finish the day by closing one device and opening another.
2. Take Care of Your Health
Taking care of your health, both physical and mental, is always important, but even more so with the pandemic. The usual things remain in effect— remember to exercise and eat well— but here’s a few additional tips you might not have thought of.
Take breaks and get outside
Back in the good old pre-COVID times, you could get a change of scenery by going out to a coffee shop to do some work. Or you might walk about the office to go meet with different people.
While it’s a little harder (or impossible) to do some of those things at the moment, it’s all the more important to take breaks, especially if they take you outside. Taking a break clears your mind and makes you more productive in your remaining scheduled work time.
A break also allows you to stretch your legs—which can be difficult in a small apartment—which is better for your long term health. Getting out in nature can also be good for your mental well being, even if it’s just to the park down the block.
Avoid checking social media and news sites
Between the pandemic and the U.S. election, you may find yourself constantly checking Facebook or your favorite news site to see what fresh calamity has befallen the world. Resist the urge.
Constantly checking in on the stream of bad news is going to do two things. First it’s going to wear away at your mental heath. And second, it’s going to get you out of a flow state for work. Save the doomscrolling for your free time (if you must).
3. Work on your communication
One of the biggest differences between working from home and going to an office or physical business, is that you tend not to see very many other people. Your coworkers or customers have to reach you online or by phone. That can make it hard to maintain those important business relationships to keep everyone on the same page, whether its working together on your business or making sure your customers have a satisfactory experience.
Because you’re not going to be seeing people in the real world, it can be easier for important tasks to get missed or communications get lost. When in doubt, always over-communicate important information and updates to your coworkers and customers.
Are you going on vacation soon? Don’t just throw it in the company calendar. Mention it several times in chats/emails/calls before the day comes up. Actively ask people if they need anything from you before you go on break.
If there’s a new feature on your store, or a sale, make sure your customers can find out about it in multiple ways. Email them if they’re on your newsletter list, write a blog article about it, and put up alerts on your website.
Be positive and assume positive intentions
In addition to over-communicating, try to keep your communications positive and upbeat. Having terse emails is efficient for typing, but can leave your recipients wonder if you’re being grouchy. This might make them grouchy in response! A lot can be lost without those in-person cues we normally rely on. So don’t be afraid to throw in exclamation points and emojis to keep your communications upbeat.
At the same time, try and assume that other people’s communications are positive, unless proven otherwise. Even if they don’t sprinkle their emails with exclamation points, it tends to keep things more civil if you don’t read malice into their terseness.
Socialize with coworkers and associates
By this point, you may be a little tired of Zoom calls, but they’re still important. Maintaining your personal connections with your coworkers or business associates helps keep your working relationships strong.
If you’re working with a group of people, try to have a weekly or biweekly hangout just to see people’s faces and chat informally. It’s not the same as the office water cooler, but it helps keep you all up to date with each others lives and reminds everyone that there are actually people behind those email and Slack addresses.
Working from home, whether by choice or to avoid the pandemic, can be both fun and challenging. The important things are going to remain the same. Remember to maintain that work/life divide, spend time on self-care, and work on improving your communication with people.
Have any other tips for working from home? Let us known.