You might have already noticed that we live in fast-paced times where changes are inevitable. One of the major parts of those changes is the work style. It includes working from home, either as a freelancer or remote worker (currently what most people have become due to COVID-19).
Many people decide to choose to work from home because it is quite convenient and has many advantages over the traditional 8 am-5 pm style of work. Yet for some, it is extremely challenging. Even when circumstances force you to work at home, you can learn how to turn it into a gold mine. It is also more advantageous over traditional work style because it gives you flexibility and autonomy.
An office gives you a regimented schedule. Co-workers give you social interaction. A physically present boss gives you accountability. How is one supposed to get proper work done in the absence of all those things? Well, it is possible to get work done.
Working from home involves various obstacles in the form of distractions. Your friends and family may think that since you work at home, you have plenty of time to cook, clean, and do many other chores. It is a very popular misconception. Working at home requires great organisational skills and self-discipline. This article is to help you with those skills and that discipline needed to work well from home.
Here are 9 tips for self-discipline when working from home
1. Wake Up Early
For a lot of people, this may be the most difficult part of working from home. With no office to go to and no boss to tap his watch and look irritated if you are late, there can be a little motivation to get up at a reasonable hour and start working.
Training yourself to get up on time like you have a traditional job will get you into a routine that encourages productivity. Waking up around 7 am or 7.30 am will allow you to start working by 8 am. It is not too early like someone with a long morning commute to worry about. Make sure to eat breakfast as well before work. This will give you the energy to work productively.
2. Do not work in your pyjamas
The temptation to get into comfy clothes when working from home will always be there. Don’t do it though, it is a trap. The fact that you are wearing your home clothes or nightwear will put you into a chill zone, and that is not the zone you want to be in. Get up, take a shower and dress up like you are going to work. You do not have to wear formal clothes but get out of those sweatpants. Jeans and a shirt will be just fine
3. Have a dedicated work station
Convert one of the rooms into your office with a proper desk and a chair. If you do not have a spare room as such at the least set up a table in some corner of the house and make it a habit to work from there only. Long hours of sitting wrong on the couch will come with a few backaches and many unplanned and unnecessary naps.
Having your personal space intended strictly for work is what you should begin with when you struggle with keeping self-discipline at home. This is because you will find it easier to focus, avoid distractions, and you will have all things within your reach. Statistics have shown that “the average office employee spends 1.5 hours of their day looking for things”. Having all your items within reach will help you work better.
4. Set fixed working hours
You are working from home, there is no one to track your working hours, and you have no one to report to, no card swipes to verify if you worked for 7 hours seem super cool only if you can work well on your own. Working from home needs setting rules for yourself and following them. A little delay or a few extra breaks are okay, there has got to be some perks of doing work on your own, but do not take things too lightly. Have a rough calculation of how much time you will dedicate to your work and stick to it.
5. Use Technology
Technology is amazing. It helps people in their daily tasks and most of all, at work. Technology is usually associated with equipment such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets. Technology is tools, apps, and software, and there is plenty to choose from:
- time tracking software (e.g. Timesheet or EasyWork)
- to-do lists, calendars or planners (e.g. Microsoft Planner or Evernote)
- project management tools (e.g. Trello or Project Manager)
- productivity apps (e.g. Serene or Airtable)
- work management software (e.g. EyeOnTask or Freshdesk)
- communication tools (e.g. Facebook or Zoom)
6. Make a schedule
This seems relatively self-explanatory, but most people will not be able to function properly working from if they do not have some sort of regimented schedule guiding them. This can start with waking up at a set time every day but also translates into whatever you need to get done in a day.
When you are starting you may find it very helpful to physically write down your schedule at the start of each day. This will give you a sense of direction in terms of needs to be done and meeting deadlines.
7. Let people around you know your working schedule
It is very easy to start playing around with your child or have a long chat with your friend or a family member while you are on your own. Inform your friends and family about the times you will be busy (even if you are at home working from the dining table). Tell your children that you will play with them in the evening and that you need to finish your work for some time.
8. Get up from your desk at least once every hour
There are proven productivity and physical health benefits to getting up from your desk regularly, and make sure to do so at least once an hour. Not only does doing so allow you to stretch your legs and get your blood flowing again while you grab a snack from the kitchen, but it also helps you clear the fog of concentration you were working in and get ready to approach a given project with renewed concentration.
Also, drink a lot of water, roughly 2 litres a day. This helps with forcing you to get up a lot since you will often have to make a quick bathroom run at least once an hour. Whatever works, right?
9. Earn Rewards
One of the perks of working from home is that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. However, the objective of this article is to show you how to balance it with actual productivity and discipline.
Turn your distractions into rewards and then have the willpower to use them in moderation. For example, do some work and take a 5-10 minute break every hour to play a game on your phone or watch a short video on YouTube. Micro-rewards will go a long way to both making you feel accomplished and giving you a brief respite to boot.
Sifiso Dingani is a Talent Management Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone +263 4 481946-48/ 481950/ 2900276/ 2900966 or cell number +26377 551 7211 or email [email protected] or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com
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