I’ve been working from home for seventeen years. In those years I have developed work habits that enable me to be productive and achieve my business goals.
Set a Routine
Setting a routine is very important. There are only so many minutes and hours to devote to work. Making all those minutes count is important.
This is difficult to do under normal circumstances. It’s harder to do when your kids are home from school because of the Coronavirus epidemic.
Set a Wake Up Time
Part of setting a routine means getting up at a specific hour. You can’t wake up whenever. It’s super important to set a time to wake up and stick to it.
Let your children or significant others sleep in. You have a job, it’s important to be there, especially in the morning.
Sleeping in and waking up whenever you wake up is undisciplined and in my experience may lead to less productivity.
Take a Shower
A shower is a great way to get focused in the morning. Some people have a coffee first and shower later. That’s fine. What’s important is to set a routine and stick to it.
There are two reasons for a shower:
- To become fully awake and focused.
- To maintain personal hygiene and not become icky slobby.
In my opinion, being slobby can affect how you feel about yourself and for me at least, it’s distracting.
Get Dressed and Be Comfortable
It’s tempting to stay in your pajamas. But it’s not hygienic. At the very least buy some comfortable clothes like sweat pants and loose t-shirts or sweat shirts.
Comfortable and clean clothes are important. Uncomfortable or stinky pajamas are not only icky but it’s distracting.
Buy a Dependable Coffee Machine
If you drink coffee, make it at home. There is no time to leave the house for coffee and anyway… coronavirus, right?
I have been using the same model Krups espresso machine for over thirty years. I have come across nearly new ones at garage sales and on Craigslist so I have extra machines for when my current one stops working.
Coffee in the morning is part of my routine and it makes a nice soft beginning to the day.
Consider Not Sharing an Office
Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s my significant other… But if you share a space with someone else, I have found that I am more productive if I work alone.
I tried sharing the same office space but I found that we tend to become chatty and that’s disruptive.
Everyone’s different. Sharing an office might work for you. It doesn’t for me and I know I’m not alone in this experience.
Contrary to how we tend to think about it, focus is not something that someone has or does not have.
Focus is not an ability. Focus is a state of mind that you can create.
Being able to focus is a major battle that must be won by every person who is working from home.
How to Create Focus
- Avoid emails
- Avoid social media
- Avoid news websites
Your productivity will increase if you avoid those three things. The problem is not that they are time-sucks. The problem is that they interfere with your focus.
Every time you break your concentration to look at an email it will take several minutes to get back in the zone. I find that I am far more productive if I turn off my email client.
Once you have taken steps to work without distractions you will find that you are able to massively improve the amount of work that can be accomplished.
Prepare Easy Lunches from Home
Eating at home is especially important during the epidemic. The staples for easy lunches can be leftovers. Whatever you eat, make it something that is fast and easy to put together and healthy.
Easy meals can be:
- Dinner leftovers
- Tuna or chicken salad
- Home made soup (with or without noodles)
- Ravioli that can be boiled then served with pesto or tomato sauce
- Fruits and vegetables
Plan Your Meals
If you intend to eat leftovers, plan to make extra food for the next day.
I sometimes roast a whole chicken or a batch of chicken breasts ahead of time. Then during work I can carve off a piece and turn it into a chicken salad sandwich, chicken with pesto, an Asian stir fry, with tomato pasta sauce, tacos etc.
There are so many ways to take advantage of a roasted chicken that is in the refrigerator. Think of it as a base for making different things.
Tip for pet owners:
I do not salt or pepper my do-ahead chicken. Cooking it without spices means I can share it with my cats and dogs as a treat (not a meal).
My Secret for Avoiding Snacks
I have found that I tend to avoid needless snacking if I eat a fruit and a vegetable with lunch. Fruits and vegetables seem to stick with me and keep me satisfied without feeling sleepy and full.
The most convenient way to eat vegetables is to stock up on frozen vegetables like sliced carrots and broccoli. Defrost your frozen vegetables in the microwave (reserve a couple pieces of carrot for your dog if you have one), then roast in a toaster oven or on an iron skillet on a low flame until the water is evaporated then drizzle olive oil or butter on it. I guarantee you will never know it was frozen and it’ll leave you satisfied and productive for the rest of the day.
Take a Walk or Exercise
Working from home is unhealthy because it’s a sedentary lifestyle. If you can take a walk nearby where you won’t encounter people, do it. Otherwise, some exercise might help. I keep a set of dumbbells near my desk so I can do some quick exercises.
Get Plenty of Sleep
There is nothing harder than trying to crank out some work while being sleepy. Getting sleep is healthy and helps you be more productive.
Working from Home During Coronavirus
Working from home is difficult. But if you set up some rules to follow you will find that your productivity will not suffer and in fact you may be even more productive because of the lack of distractions.
Working from home is an opportunity to do your best work. But you can only achieve this if you plan your day to be optimized for work.