When I decided to work from home, my family was at the center of my mind. It’s just my husband and me right now, but we hope to start a family in the next several years, and my desire has always been to be able to be home with children however that may look. So, I thought it would be a great idea to transition into the home sooner rather than later, especially since our digital world allows it so easily. Additionally, my husband stays very busy at his job as well as traveling as a professional pianist on weekends and working for Church on Sunday’s.
It was too much for both of us to hold down full-time in-office jobs plus work part time for Church and maintain our home the way we liked. With me working from home, I can now manage my home, our finances, and our schedules with joy instead of stress.
Whatever it Looks Like, Work from Home is Doable!
Working from home looks a little different for everyone who does it. Some people work from home but are out and about all day with clients. Some work from home and are just as much tied to their phone or computer as if they were in the office. Others work from home and have a great deal of flexibility. Some work from home temporarily or seasonally, others work from home permanently, and still others work from home intermittently a couple of times a month or a week.
Whatever your work from home situation, there are a few tricks that will help you handle it like a boss. This isn’t one-size-fits-all, but anyone can work these tips to their advantage to work from home like a pro.
6 Tips to Work from Home Like a Boss
1. Get Dressed
As tempting as it is to stay in your pajamas all day, getting dressed is the number one best way to get yourself in the right mindset for work. You don’t have to dress business casual to work from home, but the simple act of getting dressed for the day will tell your brain and body it’s time to start the day. It helps you switch from rest-mode to work-mode so you’ll feel that much more ready to face the day.
2. Set up a Designated Work Space
Maybe you are working from home permanently, or perhaps it’s a temporary thing. Either way, take the time to designate a workspace for yourself. It’s easy for papers, laptops, sticky notes, etc. to get strewn about the house when you’re working from home. But if you set up a designated work space, you will be able to manage things better. You also will have a better time of not mixing parts of your life. Having a designated workspace will allow you to stay organized and get focused.
3. Set a Routine
Most people have routines in the office. Get there at a certain time, check emails, fix coffee, take your lunch break. You don’t have to make your work-from-home life mirror an office routine, but a new home-office routine will be your friend. Decide to get up a certain time to get yourself going, and then plan to start working at the same time each day as well. Figure out what works for you throughout your day. One of the beauties of working from home is the freedom it allows (see next section), but routine also adds some much-needed structure for you to function within. It will help you get started each day and keep you moving and focused.
4. Run Your Schedule, Don’t Let it Run You
The best part of working from home is that you are largely self-managed. Sure, you still need to get your work done, but you can also move more fluidly through your day than if you’re stuck in a cubicle. Need groceries? Take a break and go get them. Need a change of scenery? Take your laptop outside for a little while and get some sunshine. Go for a walk, do the laundry, play a round of go-fish with your kids. You get to tell your day what to do.
If you don’t tell your day what to do, it will certainly run itself and you straight into the ground. Phone calls, emails, and to-do lists can be a harsh task master, but if you put yourself at the helm of working from home, you can gain mastery over these things by telling your time what to do. Set mini-goals for yourself. Finish a project and then go for a walk. Unload the dishes once you get off that conference call. You will, in fact, do much better work if you allow yourself the freedom to enjoy your day while you work from home than if you force yourself to stay behind a desk all day long as though you are back in the office in a cubicle.
5. Make a To-Do List the Night Before
To-Do lists were never my cup of tea. In high school, I would always start out the year using a planner and then ditch it a couple of weeks in. When I started working, though, that all changed. There can be so much going on at work that it’s exhausting and headache-inducing to keep track of in your head. To-Do lists will be your best friend working from home. It’s a great way to keep your thoughts organized and get yourself focused. It’s also a great way to keep track of work and home duties that need to be accomplished. Set a work to-do list and a personal to-do list for each day to know what goals you have in front of you.
Instead of just making a to-do list for the day of, though, I highly recommend making your to-do list the evening before. When you wrap up your workday, you already know the litany of things that you didn’t get to that day or that came up that need to be accomplished tomorrow. You have your calendar in front of you to know meeting times and such. Take the opportunity to make your to-do list for the following day while your to-dos are still fresh on your mind. It will be much easier to put pen to paper when it’s still top of mind than in the morning when you’re trying to remember what you need to do or look up your meeting schedule for the day. It’s empowering, refreshing, and motivating to be able to get to your designated work spot and have your to-do list ready to go so you can hop to it first thing.
6. Set your Priorities
As I mentioned at the beginning, family was my priority when choosing to work from home. But everyone’s priorities when working from home are different. It’s important to know for yourself what your priority is whether you are working from home permanently, intermittently, or temporarily.
Is work number one for you? Put those personal to-do items at the bottom of your list. Is family number one for you? Work your schedule so you will be able to drop kids off at school and pick them up when you want. Set up a work-life balance that allows you the flexibility you need to get groceries, build a fort, and be at school activities while also allowing you to accomplish your work goals. Maybe for you, that means waking up early to work. Maybe it means taking plenty of breaks throughout the day to get personal and home-related tasks done.
Or maybe your priority is something totally different, like travel. A lot of people choose work-from-home so they can explore the world. Maybe you work from home so you can prioritize your side hustle that’s your true dream. Go for it! Set up your schedule so there’s plenty of time to accomplish your tasks to bring home the bacon and get hustling on your dreams. It doesn’t matter what your priority is so long as you define it and work your life toward it. Working from home will be your best friend in prioritizing your life if you let it.
Make Work from Home Work for You
At the end of the day, it’s all about making this thing work for you. Working from home in and of itself isn’t a solution. It takes practice and getting used to, and it takes work to make it work for you. Play around with your schedule to find what works for you. Be your own advocate and don’t apologize for doing what it takes to get your life like you want it.
Got any other work from home tips? Share them in the comments!