Working from home – tips from a veteran

During the past 25 years, I have spent 80-90% of my professional life working from home. Here are some tips which you may find useful;

  1. Get dressed, and go to work!
  2. Work a typical business day, for example, 9 to 5 with a break for lunch. Retain some structure and routine.
  3. Have a space ready-set for work. Some are fortunate enough to have a home office or study, but many don’t. You need somewhere you can concentrate, without distraction.
  4. You are not on holiday, but others will think that you are! Young children, in particular, won’t get what’s going on and that’s not their fault. But, you need to figure out a ‘settlement’ with everyone else in the household including the dog! You get peace and quiet, they get extended playtime later in the day or an evening walk. Use your considerable diplomatic skills to explain, very gently, that you are at work.
  5. Don’t eat too much! A nice email arrives, so off you trot to the kitchen to reward yourself with a chocolate biscuit. Someone makes a silly request so you calm yourself with the 6th coffee of the morning. Working from home can create some bad habits, guard against them otherwise your health will suffer.
  6. Have proper breaks, go outside or somewhere away from your screen. You need a mental break, eating lunch clicking through emails is not a break. Try something new between work sessions; a new book, a new playlist, a new recipe.
  7. Make sure you talk to a human at least once during the business day. Skype. Facetime. Zoom.
  8. Beware of addiction to ‘Breaking News’ and a blizzard of ‘notifications’. That stuff will kill your Deep Work.
  9. Allow yourself some ‘creative time’ – just a part of the day when you can try new work-related stuff, or to simply type out some notes about an idea you have. Too many people exist in a reactive loop, just ticking through a never-ending list of things that need doing. Working at home is now allowing you to avoid a percentage of the meetings you’d usually be sucked into, so use that spare capacity to be productive. How could you streamline what you do? What are our competitors up to right now? What can our team do differently? How do we improve X or Y?
  10. Enjoy not having to commute! Relax and become more positive. Remember, previous generations couldn’t do this. Lots of people have jobs which mean they can’t do this. Technology is giving you more time in your own space.

Working from home can be the perfect solution for some, but a real test for others. You, of course, will develop your own approach based around your particular set of circumstances. I’m one of those people who needs a core routine. I rarely, if ever, work at night but I tend to have music playing most of the day and stop to play my guitar at regular intervals. We are all different.

Jonathan Lee


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