There are many advantages and disadvantages of working from home. There is a lot of information that actively promotes such a culture, but it is important to understand that everything is not rosy or shiny for people who work from home. It requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline (almost jedi-like) and a great sense of comfort with autonomy, two very important qualities that we are not quite used to imposing on ourselves.
However, with the current pandemic, we are a world that has run out of options but to embrace the uncertainty and make the most of the situation that we are presented with. With a majority of the global population making their home their work places, let us look at the life that really comes with this.
Get as much done during the morning hours
This is perhaps some of the best advice that most top professionals follow. It’s one thing when you are getting ready early in the morning to go to work, but when you are working from home, the transition from the pillow to the work space should not be long and it is extremely important to get in all the work that absolutely needs to get done. Making a to-do list that you can complete in the morning, is something that would work like magic, while you are working from home. Doing the absolutely to-be-done tasks would mean more free time for the rest of the day to be able to spread out the rest of the work to be done.
Pretend-play is a very important game that we used to learn, in our childhood. Apart from the fact that it was extremely fun to play with, it also taught us an important lesson- how we can create a scenario and enact it as if it were to be true. When we were children, it was done to learn important lessons, and, in our adulthood, it boils down to almost the same thing. When we create an atmosphere in our homes, one that resembles a workplace, it plays an extremely important role in our perception. It is very important to create a separate workplace at home so that you feel like you are actually commuting to work. Create that separate place for yourself, wear nice clothes, and follow your routine the way you would, in a normal circumstance.
Give yourself a structure
When you are not in an office environment, and you don’t have your colleagues to motivate you, then segment your work in such a way that you give yourself a structure that you are following throughout the day. This essentially implies that you create a daily calendar, scheduling the tasks that you need to get done during the day, and reminders that are nudging you, in case of complacency. This can become a great boosting mechanism to keep yourself engaged with your self throughout the day.
Look at other alternative work-places
For some of us, working from home just doesn’t cut it. This means that we require an outside stimulus, even if it doesn’t mean having an office. Tele-communication is something that you can take to the next level, as you look at different workplaces that simulate an atmosphere similar to that of a work-place and yet gives you the freedom to be able to create your own schedule. Coffee shops can be a great place to work as well. This is because all of these places are now being used as places of mobile working and it resembles a very relaxed office-like environment. You also have other people who are working along-side you and this becomes a great motivating factor.
Things you need for your work-place
When you are working from home and are employed by an organization or a company, there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for the equipment that you need for set-up. Setting up your workplace is extremely important, as it will set a precedent for the kind of work-place environment that you want to create. If you need a chair, a mouse, soft-wares and other office equipment, do not hesitate to ask, as you are entitled to it, as a work-from-home professional.
Create a larger task-list than possible
This can work both ways, but it is a great way of keeping yourself on track, especially if you are working on a project. This is because you might set out to do a lot of tasks, but might find yourself always ending up short. This is something that is quite normal and, is, in fact, the advisable thing to do, as over-estimating the number of tasks that you can do, will help you keep yourself on track when it comes to managing expectations for that project. Understand that the need for creating these tasks is borne from you keeping in line with the project time-lines, so overestimating yourself in that regard will help you achieve your goal more efficiently.
Create work cycles
This is perhaps one of the most important things you can do for yourself and will require a substantial amount of self-observation. You are naturally moving into different states throughout the day and in the same way, are also moving in and out of productive states. There will be periods during the day where you will not be as productive and will be slow in your functioning. This is perfectly natural and must be used as an opportunity to decide the kind of tasks that you will be engaging in, throughout the day. When you feel like you are in a slower state, create less work for that time and work that will not require a lot of your mental stimulation. Try to finish off all the productive work that you need to do, during the times that you feel productive.
Focus on a distraction and keep that as your principal distraction
When you are working in an office, it is naturally a lot easier to get things done, because your level of productivity is attuned to the kind of environment that is created in the office. However, when you are at home, you don’t have that level of ‘busy-ness’. In this case, it is important to look at one principal distraction that you will allow yourself to get distracted by. When you allow yourself to get distracted by that one thing and by that one thing only, you realize that you save up a lot of the other time that you could be wasting, distracting yourself from other things. This is something that has worked consistently for many at-home professionals, almost like a cheat-code for working from home.
Create timers for measuring your work completion
This is a great suggestion for someone who lacks self-discipline and for anyone actually who prefers working from home. When you are planning your work schedules, time an activity, like a household chore that you have to engage in, for the duration of the task that you have to accomplish. For example- if you are cooking the hot stew that you are making and it is going to take the next 45 mins, plan out the work that you are going to accomplish according to that measurement of time. Doing this can create great efficiency-generating cycles, while also getting household work done.
Just because you are working from home, it does not mean that you are completely alone. It is very difficult for a lot of people to adjust to this new culture, especially people belonging to the older generation. So, when you are in a position like that, it is important to let the people know in your house that this is as serious as anything else and that you will not tolerate any kind of disturbance. Doing this well in advance sets expectations right from the start and will ensure that you are able to sustain a productive work environment.
In conclusion, working from home can be both a blessing and something that is difficult to manage. If you are able to understand your internal cycle of functioning and what you must do, in order to work around it, it can actually become quite a liberating process for one to follow. Proper space is extremely important to flourish and to be productive and it is important to create the kind of environment that works best for you. It can be difficult at the start, because you are creating a kind of environment that has known to become quite counter-intuitive, but if you are able to follow the rhythm of your body and mind and understand when you work most efficiently and when you don’t, you might actually be able to create effective and responsive work schedules for yourself.