8 practical tips that will help you organise better when you work from home
Having a lazy start to work in your pajamas, unlimited breaks and time to run quick errands. These are the images that one conjures up in their mind when they hear of ‘work from home’ (WFH). High-speed internet and improved connectivity are credited for making this utopian idea feasible for many modern employees.
The Cambridge Dictionary describes work-at-home as “arrangements in which employees work in their own homes, rather than in an office”. As a concept, WFH has gained increasing popularity in the past decade for it also allows for better work-life balance.
However, the new age work arrangement also comes with significant challenges. Lack of motivation, blurring boundaries between work and home-related tasks and the absence of social equation with colleagues can be some examples.
Here are a few useful tips that can help employees organize and prioritize better when working from home:
#1. Dedicate specific working hours
A few employees may consider waking up late and working at odd hours of the day to be one of the biggest advantages of working from home. However, such a practice often leads to work spilling over all throughout the day.
After having put in a few work hours close to midnight, one might feel exhausted with no or little break-time. Hence, it is best to commit specific work hours, (that align with your office hours if possible) when you can dedicate optimal energy for job-related tasks.
#2. Establish a mini work station
Though it sounds luxurious, it works great if you can re-create a cabin like an environment for your work from home days. You can keep it plain and minimalistic. A basic desk chair with a nearby charging point for your laptop, a storage space to stack your work folders and someplace on the wall to stick your post-its!
Alternatively your kitchen shelf, an informal study will do just fine. Having an exclusive area marked for your work-related activities reinstates the purpose and helps you focus better.
#3. List down your tasks
Many successful leaders attribute compulsive listing down of their day-to-day activities as key to multi-tasking various tasks through the day.
Make it routine to list your priority tasks on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This gives an employee planning to work from home, a better head start. Moreover, it serves as a road map throughout the day to be more productive.
#4. Keep it moderately formal
Though the idea of working in your comfy clothes on your favourite bean bag may sound tempting, try restricting the informality associated with WFH.
Wake up to a fixed timetable, bathe, and change into proper clothes. These mundane things enable a better switch from home-to-work mode. This then enables you to work methodically even in a relaxed setting.
#5. Take breaks (not very generous ones though!)
One cannot rule out taking frequent breaks even if they happen to be working in comfortable home environs.
Taking regular breaks from work-related tasks allows for better relaxation and cuts down on sloppiness. Breaks are essential in preventing burnout. So, even simple tasks like making a cup of tea, picking up kids from school, or walking your dog can do the trick.
However, do not get too generous with these breaks. It is easy to get complacent under no supervision. But make sure your breaks do not run into forever.
#6. Reduce time running errands
The biggest drawback of WFH is probably having to be part of the day-to-day rigmarole of household chores. Imagine being disturbed by the courier person when you are in the middle of an important work call.
Despite elaborate planning, certain domestic tasks are unavoidable. The only plausible trick then is to stay alert, cautious and ensure a smoother transition from running routine errands to getting back to work.
#7. Communicate your priorities
If possible, communicate your work-related priorities with every family member well in advance. It includes announcing your work hours, the line-up of important calls and meetings etc.
This allows your spouse, children and parents to be better prepared to pitch in for everyday tasks when need be. Once they know what to expect, they will also try to keep you away from reasonable distractions (like screening calls) if any.
#8. Be adaptable when you work from home
Regardless of all the careful organization, WFH is about a having an open mind. Though being self-disciplined works to a large extent, one needs to be flexible to adjust to unexpected emergencies.
Having to take care of a cranky child, dealing with a crashed computer, saving your laundry from sudden rains… the list can be both unfortunate and endless. Under such circumstances, having substantial patience and willingness to adapt is key.
Contrary to the widespread belief that WFH is cool and convenient, employees need to understand that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Hence, it is sensible to evaluate how the arrangement suits one’s priorities before signing up for it.