How can I work effectively at home?
It’s always been a challenge for me. Interruptions from family demanding my attention… How easy it is to impulsively type Netflix.com or Youtube.com into my browser address bar… And the never-ending munchies that come in waves.
But there is 1 guiding principle that makes working at home effective for me:
Aim to stay in front of everything; there is nothing great to gain from being behind.Brian Vuong
The idea behind the principle is that we can only be effective if we are proactive with what we do. That means knowing where you’re heading, figuring out what needs to be done, and managing yourself in a way that prevent mistakes typical to you from building up.
Over the years, the challenge of working form home has been easier to overcome. And they became easier because I continue to practice these 10 tips below.
How to Work Effectively From Home
1. Plan out your end game
There are different ways to look at what you want to ultimately achieve. It takes a little imagination and it might seem vague, but the idea is to have a sense of direction. I chose a lifestyle of living abroad as my end game.
2. Use free tools to manage your tasks and schedule
A lot of moving parts can spawn in your face. Having a system to capture your tasks, organize, prioritize, and delegate is important. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should start today. I use Asana, Google Calendar, and Toggl.
3. Make your workspace your own
Your desk in particular, but your desktop on your computer is equally important. Own your workspace by organizing it in a way that suits your preference. That way, you will feel in control and a sense of responsibility over your workspace. I use Linux Mint with Google Chrome, Files, and Trash Bin on my task bar.
4. Hunt down accountability buddies
You want people you can feel safe and open about personal problems, but also inspired to work harder. This means having accountability buddies you can talk to frequently and stay in touch indefinitely. Keep in mind it takes several tries to find the right people or to make relationships work. I have two mastermind groups with a total of 7 people I trust. I think 2 to 3 others is ideal.
5. Restrict your work schedule and knock off at the same time each day
Parkinson’s law is real and serious. Constraining your work time and being consistent with ending it at same time forces creativity and discipline. I don’t know what is ideal for you, but what I am doing is 9 to 3 for a 6-hour work schedule. I still do calls, meetings, and some mild work after this time however.
6. Have a pet project for after work
Your pet project should be something you want to do and can eventually make you money. Ideally, starting a niche website, ecommerce, or your own brand of some sort. I am building my name with blogging and vlogging.
7. Follow a morning routine of some sort
It doesn’t matter too much what it is, but following a routine will help you remain emotionally consistent during the most important time of your day. Preparing yourself for the day and doing the most important or hardest work is ideal. I lift weights, then double-check my plans for the day.
8. Share your challenges with others
This ties closely with tip #4. However, the goal is to be open and receptive to solutions when you share your personal challenges. Don’t overdo it, but the idea is to listen to perspective of others you otherwise would not have thought about or seen. I discuss myself with my girlfriend all the time.
9. Take care of yourself physically and mentally
Bro, just hit the gym. Or build your own gym. And move those weights every morning and night. Throw on a podcast if you need to. I like to listen to Joe Rogan. As for your mental game, a hobby (or pet project, cough #6) will help keep you sane. Relaxation techniques before bed is equally important.
10. Dedicate time to reflect and think about what’s going on
I have a Q&A folder going. Any questions I have, I throw up a document titled the question, then begin brainstorming ideas and solutiosn to my challenges. No matter how insignificant or overwhelming my question might be, I put in the time to reflect and think for a solution. I also write reports each week on how things have been, and how things can be going forward.
How to Structure Your Day
Structuring your day can be a challenge if you don’t know what you want to see from it or have a preference for how to work. Here are a few things you need to decide on to help structure your day in a productive manner:
- Having a comfortable work schedule that balances you ambitions and life outside work
- Knowing what outcomes you want to achieve, and a time estimate of how long they might take
- Consideration of other tasks and demands that will require your time
- Starting with the hardest task first to get it out of the way
- Or starting with the easiest task to build moment
- A calendar (or pen and paper) to put time blocks and track work progress
- Reflecting each night and at the end of each work week on how you can improve your day’s structure
I usually have 3 most important outcomes in mind. I tried increasing this number a few times, but always end up getting crushed by the list. Now, if I find myself completing what I need done within my work day’s period, I come up with another 3 with the available work day time I have remaining.
It also helps I am happy spending 10 to 14 hours a day on my work.
How You Can Make Working From Home Fun
Working from home can be distracting. Snacks are within reach. Chores are always on the back of your mind. One of the best way to make work fun is to change your perspective on it. When you look at what you do as an essential and important function of other people’s livelihood, it changes how you feel about the work at hand.
This is easier said than done, and the best advice I have on shifting your perspective is to reflect on it daily. A series of focused questions might help (you can research this) or spending two minutes writing non-stop about a better perspective for you and your work can help.
Don’t expect results immediately. Keep on practicing once or several times a day, and you might find yourself enjoying work more than you expected.
Another tip to keep in mind is to avoid punishing yourself. Punishing yourself by feeling bad or with restrictions doesn’t encourage good behavior. It simply might make you avoid bad ones. I believe having encourage can draw you forward much easier than slapping your wrist on the million and one things (usually, it’s just a handful) that don’t help your cause. Take it easy: effective work from home isn’t just one day; it’s a marathon after all.
And don’t forget to take frequent breaks!
These 10 tips pretty much sum up the most important advice I can offer. Of course, what works for me might not work for you, so experiment with variations and new ideas you come across. Think up new solutions to improve your daily work regime. Over time, trust that you will find a process that sticks. And who knows, maybe you’ll write your a blog post with tips of your own one day, too.