Working from home is not as easy as you might think. I’ve been working remotely at my current firm for three and a half years and it’s been a bumpy road. How many Saturdays have you purposed to get a particular project done but at the end of the day find yourself without any work to show for it? Project that situation to every day, though, and you might understand how difficult it is to transition to working from home. Imagine a scheduled to-do list, but with a Saturday vibe–pajamas, no makeup, quiet house–and try to imagine yourself busting out a solid 8 hours. My friend, if you even load Netflix, you’ve lost the battle.
Throw atop this battle of will some energetic child(ren) and a house perpetually twenty minutes away from being satisfactorily cleaned, and you have a recipe for no billable hours. Let me share with you the lessons I’ve learned on this journey.
Better to eat the frog, as they might say. The longer you put off work, the worse it will be when you get there. Do something simple, but do something. Pull up all your tabs and programs, turn on the coffee pot, shut off the social media, and tackle something. If you build momentum early like this, you are more likely to finish an entire day of work, rather than procrastinate yourself into a lose-lose corner.
Track your time.
Especially if you have kids, housework, hobbies, guests, or distractions, it’s important to track your time. Humans are naturally unnaturally bad at estimating time in their memory. Recollection will either exaggerate or diminish the work you’ve done, and neither of those options are productive. Additionally, as Peter Drucker probably said, “What you measure, you manage.” How can you resolve to spend more time working (or less!) if you don’t know how much time you’re spending now? This step is so important and so simple. I know you are already wanting to overlook this in the same way that I abhor and avoid calorie counting, but please, please do this. If you have ever gotten to the end of a WFH day and thought, “…What did I do today?,” you need to track your time. Download a free app and try it out.
Give yourself grace.
Friend, please. You’re trying to keep a very fast pace in a spinning world. Go easy on yourself a bit. Be self aware and understand when you’re nearing burn out and also be self aware when you’re pretending to be sick to procrastinate. Both are normal and both need to be medicated. The best prescription for burn out is an official day off and the panacea for procrastination is to set a timer for twenty minutes and just start.
As you get used to working from home, try to keep regular hours. Whatever regular might mean to you, try to maintain consistency. This helps you get in a rhythm and it also helps your teammates (and roommates). Remote offices work only with a great dollop of trust and trust is much easier when you can be counted on. So your office operates 8-5, it’s probably okay for you to work the graveyard shift (with appropriate management approval), but be consistent so that your coworkers can rely on you to have answered their emails by the time they get to work in the morning. They will get in the habit of sending you projects and tasks as they leave for work and you start work, instead of frantically sitting by their inboxes all day waiting for a response.
How do you work from home? Do you have any tips that I missed? Has your journey to consistency been as long as mine? Leave a comment below so we can continue the conversation.
Redeem the time well, friend.