Over the last few months, working from home has become the new normal for millions of people in the U.S. and abroad.
There were already millions who moved to remote working to accommodate the needs of a global and highly mobile workforce.
Luckily, the people who are just now figuring out how to succeed with a work from home routine can look back at the best practices and practical self-management tips that their predecessors have developed to help them improve their productivity.
1. Set a Schedule
One of the most significant advantages of working remotely is often being able to decide when you work.
However, even with added flexibility, a work schedule with organized start and stop times is critical for most people.
The structure provides you with accountability, so you don't cut yourself too many breaks and wind up behind on projects.
You can select the hours that work best for you, just make sure you stay focused when you're on the clock.
2. Separate Work and Personal Time
You can radically change your schedule, working split shifts or even alternating project hours and personal time.
But no matter what you choose, you should separate work and personal time. This helps keep your work stress out of your personal life.
It provides boundaries for the people sharing space with you, and it also ensures you're entirely focused while working.
3. Be Prepared When It Comes to Food
Just because you have easy access to your kitchen, doesn't mean you shouldn't prepare ahead of time.
You should commit to prepping the right range of convenient foods before work time starts. This way, you can easily throw something in to reheat or open a fresh snack when you hit your lunch or break time.
4. Move as Much as You Can
Lack of activity can be a big problem when you work from home. It can be helpful to set a timer to remind yourself to stand up and move around.
If possible, take phone calls or participate in phone meetings while walking around your home or the block.
Consider investing in a standing desk to keep yourself as active as you were when you worked outside the home.
5. Plan Out Your Workflow
It's often not possible to predict how much time each project will take. But you can estimate it based on your history and the tasks at hand.
This makes it easier to order your day and make sure everything that needs to be delivered gets there on time.
6. Break Up the Day
It might be tempting to try to push through all your to-do's in one block of time. That's almost always counterproductive, which is why the regular workday has breaks.
As you choose your hours, make sure you get a chance to stop and regroup every couple of hours so you can stay alert and focused.
7. Tune in and Tune Out
If you work with music, it can be a great way to shut out distractions. Even if you don't love that idea, finding a way to shut out the rest of your household is essential if you are going to be able to concentrate.
That can mean a dedicated office, noise-cancelling headphones, or a piece of non-musical soundtrack-like news or podcasts.
8. Select the Right Tech
Whether you're talking digital marketing tools or necessary customer communication and collaboration, the right app can make or break your experience.
Pick your tech tools according to what will work for you and what makes it easy to deliver the work to your clients and update them regularly to make sure you have everything you need.
9. Use Commute Time to Rest
Although you don't have to leave the house and commute to work, your brain needs time to adjust to work mode and non-work mode.
Make a commute time rest schedule to avoid over-working those hours so you can be more productive when you do work.
10. Stay Looped In
It is even more critical to track incoming communications when working from home. Stay on top of instant messages, emails and calls during work hours, and start each session responding to what came in while you were out.
Working from home can be just as productive as a corporate office with a view. It only takes some structure and discipline to stay on task and on time.