How to Work From Home Effectively (2021)
Updated: Jun 6
Working from home used to be quite uncommon, it's often frowned upon by many 'traditional companies' as an unresourceful environment for productivity. But now our society's hand has been forced into a corner with the rise of the pandemic, new methods have an opportunity to be placed under the spotlight and put to the test.
If you're in the circumstance where your workplace has offered up the opportunity to work from home and you're keen to give it a go, I hope to have the guide for you!
Working or studying at home effectively can be difficult to grasp at first, as with anything, practice makes perfect and perfection takes time.
Whether you're looking for working from home office setup tips or just need some home office ideas, I've been through the trouble, I've done the mileage and here's what I've found to be useful.
Now, it's time to stop thinking about working from home and start the journey of changing your environment.
You might ask, 'are there any work from home secrets?' - my answer would be yes, and one of them is understanding the concept of separating your environments depending on what you intend to do in them.
Bedrooms are for resting, offices are for working and kitchens are for cooking. It's this kind of simple bullet point association that is needed to embed a sense of purpose relative to the environment you're in.
Some people don't like the idea of merging their work life and home life under one roof, I even know a couple who have built their own home office in their garden to create a sense of detachment!
For them, it works. Simply because they've managed to keep the separation along with all of the convenience of being at home. In truth, they've pretty much just ruled out their commute.
Ultimately though, a pool of advantages sit ready for you to make the most of. Working from home...can work, and it's good that you try things out now, since it may end up being a key part of our working future - so have fun with it!
The Working From Home Environment
This is going to have to be your 'work/office area', it sounds boring, but it can have a new sense of vibrance while simultaneously keeping you productive.
If you're lucky enough to have a home office, you might have a few steps covered already. If you don't, we'll need to figure out what kind of environment is right for you - because it's pretty much different for everyone.
Typically, the bedroom isn't suitable, same for the kitchen. Too many temptations to chill or become distracted lay poised there.
The living room, 'some' bedrooms, offices, lounges and house extensions can be decent places for your work setup. The main aim here is that you separate your work area from your relax areas or any other 'type' of area.
Associate your chosen location for work only. The trick here is to divide your home into 'modules' of different and definitive purposes.
The best work from home setup is one that only provides accessories or provisions that allow you to work, not ones that allow you to do anything else.
The other requirement is that you actually create environments that are not made for work, so increase an intentional exercise room with accessories for those kinds of actions, and so on.
Most jobs from home will mean you'll be sat at a desk whilst working online, therefore I'd highly recommend a workout room of some kind - better yet, you could associate your garden/outside with working out and exercise, that would count too!
The main rule from this section is that you must do a specific type of activity in the correct area, no sleeping, dumbbell curls or Netflix binging at the work desk, for example.
So long as we maintain this simple rule of division, there's a good chance for this technique to succeed.
Anyhow, that's step one for this technique - divide, the next step - conquer!
The Working From Home Desk Setup
This section is a personal favourite of mine, it's the office desk setup.
The idea here is to build the ultimate hub of productivity and creative flow. Discipline gets you started, but once the motivation actually kicks in you'll begin enjoying the grind of work and feel a proud sense of accomplishment.
But this is where a common mistake lies. Soon after the pandemic lead to the need for lockdowns, a clear division of those who loved working from home, and those who just 'couldn't work at a home' was established.
Interestingly enough, I noticed something when I investigated a little deeper into those who didn't find working from home resourceful. I recognised that they would say something along the lines of:
'My laptop overheats on my bed '
'My children were playing right in front of me all day'
'My laptop only just fits on my bedroom drawer'
'I just end up watching TV'
This tells me that those people haven't put in the initial work to create the working from home environment followed by the home office setup. They haven't given the WFH technique a solid try, which is what's required for its success!
The desk setup will differ depending upon your work, only have what you need and discard what you don't.
Having a dual monitor or second computer is great too, but use them with purpose - as with everything else on the desk, if you do not need it, get rid!
If you want to have Netflix or music in the background, then that's fine, but it must be in the background - the work has to remain in the forefront or you risk merging the relax area into the work area and... thou shalt not do such a thing according to the principles we've already covered.
It's the same story for work supplies and nourishment! These are the bells and whistles to your main task of being productive.
Make sure you have everything you need in front of you and no real need (other than going to the toilet) to leave the desk for the entirety of the time allocated to work.
With all that achieved, you're about ready to get started. If you need anything else to complete the setup, then ask yourself whether it's necessary, then bring it all together.
If you foresee a need to start working from home in the near future and don't have a setup like above, now's the chance to create a shopping list and get everything ready to go
Below is a bit of a 'starter kit' to check out and inspire a few ideas, not all that expensive! Amazon is great for pricing, quick deliveries and fantastic customer service, I've always trusted them!
That's the work portion pretty much done, this, of course, is the most important because it's the only one that directly results in the output you need.
However, the other zones mentioned above are crucial to sustainable success over time, but only if you use them proportionally and in harmony with one another.
We'll cover those in mo, but remember, the work environment is your keystone!
While on the Clock
Imagine this, you've got one badass office setup and the perfect environment for your work zone.
The time has come to get stuck in and pursue the ‘actual‘ work part. I wish this were a 'sit down and go' type thing.
For many though, it requires a number of techniques to get going.. and keep it going.
The action of listing does a few things, it allows you to enter a creative headspace right at the start and peek into the future.
So list everything you want to get done just for your next upcoming work session, try not to include things that need to be done at times in the future, this might deviate your concentration.
In terms of ordering them, this can be how you want. But I'd recommend starting with easy tasks and tackling them first - these are ones that don't take long and you know how to do pretty much immediately, no real investigation needed.
By completing these, you'll be able to tick them off and feel that sense of purpose early on. These 'feelings' will propel you forward!
Two good apps we recommend for 'to do' lists and reminders are the Microsoft To-Do app (you'll find this preinstalled as an app on Windows 10)
And Notion, available on all IOS/Android, Windows or Mac.
You could also do away with the software and rely on the old fashioned pen and paper.
For some, this is the preferred method by far. It gives a unique sense of achievement as you cross through each task until everything is done.
If this is your kind of sauce, we've found a few books that can house all of your ambitious yet-to-do's!
In summary, start easy, and work up to the harder/longer tasks.
Tick off as you go, feel accomplished and earn your right to relax and chill later - you'll feel all the better for it!
Just Do It!
In lieu of sounding like Shia Labeouf or some kind of Nike advert, you've just got to do it.
You have a list filled, yet unticked - it's time to start ticking.
Starting is always the hardest thing, as with many things. But the very moment you start you've actually accomplished the biggest step.
There's a harmful lie about motivation, and it's that you need to wait for it to hit you before you can begin anything.
Motivation isn't something you have at the beginning and then use it to complete a task, motivation is produced from the action of starting.
It's secondary to commitment and discipline, be disciplined enough to begin no matter the way you feel and before long the way you feel will go from whatever it was..to motivated.