HOW TO MAKE WORKING FROM HOME EASIER
Many of us are working from home and although it has definite benefits, there are also a few downsides. In this article, I’m sharing some ideas on how to make working from home easier. Whether you’re looking for ways to be more productive, manage your time, juggle looking after kids whilst working, or just want some tips on how to declutter and organise your home working space, desk or office, this post will hopefully give you some inspiration!
HOW TO MAKE WORKING FROM HOME EASIER
Over the years I’ve both worked outside of the office and from home, with and without kids. Working from home has given me enormous flexibility and opportunity but it’s not always been easy!
In this article I’m sharing a few tips and strategies that I hope may be helpful if you’re currently trying to work from home.
Whether it’s keeping your desk tidy, creating a home-working space that encourages productivity or perhaps you need some help managing your time, defining some boundaries so you don’t get distracted or want some quick tips to help you manage work whilst looking after little kids, I hope you’ll find a few solutions here on how to make working from home easier!
I’ve also included some links to other articles which I think might be helpful to you if you’d like more information on a particular aspect.
12 TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE WORKING FROM HOME EASIER
1. Setting up your space ready for work
First things first! Your home-working space should be clean, tidy, organised, free from clutter and only have what you need for work. There shouldn’t be anything else in that space and it’s certainly not the place for random stuff that doesn’t have a home anywhere else! That’s way too distracting!
You need to be able to think clearly and work efficiently and effectively.
This is unlikely to happen if you can’t find what you’re looking for, your desk is buried under piles of paperwork, your filing cabinets are overflowing and the rubbish has spilled out over the floor from your full-to-brim bin.
Take a moment to remove everything from your workspace that’s not work-related. Declutter this stuff by sorting it into three piles of keep, donate and throw away. Re-home the stuff that you’re keeping and make a plan to deal with the rest. Don’t just stuff it away out of sight!
2. Think about what you need this space to be like
Now take a look at what’s left in your workspace. Think about how you use this space and what you need in there. Think about its function and what you need it to do for you.
Here are some questions you could think about…
- Is most of your work computer-based, or do you have any paperwork to go through?
- Do you require lots of surface space, or will just a small desk or corner of a table be sufficient?
- Do you need lots of shelving, drawers or lockable filing cabinets? Do you need a chair, or a sofa and coffee table?
- Do you like to have your back to the door, or do you like to see who’s coming in?
- Do you like to work sitting in front of a window, or do you get too easily distracted or the light reflects on your screen too much?
3. Storage and organisation
Think how you use the room and what you need in it, then make sure the furniture is laid out to suit you. If your budget allows, invest in whatever new pieces you need to make it easiest for you to get on with your work and that will inspire productivity and creativity!
This is where storage and organisation tricks come in useful so that you can make maximum use of the space available whilst avoiding the build-up of clutter on your desk, shelves and worktops (maybe even the floor!).
Again, here are some questions you might like to consider…
- Have you got sufficient storage for stationery supplies?
- Have you got space for your printer and any other devices attached to the computer?
- Can you find a way of keeping the cables neat and tidy?
- What about good lighting?
- Have you got pictures on your walls? You need some inspiration but not to the point of distraction! Maybe just choose one or two focal pieces and leave it at that.
- Would you find a pin board or white board helpful?
4. Be creative
Check out Pinterest for interesting and imaginative home office ideas. Although it’s a working space, it can still be creative and reflect your individual personality.
If it’s a room that you love to be in, you’re more likely to enjoy spending time in there and knock out some great work too!
5. If your workspace is a corner of another room
If you don’t have a whole room dedicated to your home office, but rather just a desk or table in a corner of another room, think about this area in the same way as above. Make sure that you’ve got everything that you need in that corner.
Try to find space-saving storage options where possible.
- Maybe a desk with shelves at different heights so the printer can go underneath the desk and your files and paperwork can go higher above the computer. It will all take up less space this way and feel less intrusive on other parts of the house.
- Could you connect up your printer wirelessly and give it a home somewhere less obtrusive in another room if you don’t use it all the time?
Think about what you want on the wall above your desk or the place where you sit to work. Do you want something fun and inspiring or do you need that wall planner or white board? Try to find attractive alternatives that are functional at the same time.
Remember that your home office space could be on show all the time when it’s not in a room of its own. You can’t just shut the door on it when you’ve finished for the day if it’s a part of your kitchen, entrance way or living room!
With smaller spaces, it’s even more important to keep them clean, tidy and organised so be vigilant that the clutter doesn’t build up and take over.
6. Your desk
Your desk (or the surface at which you do your work) says a lot about your brain. You could say a tidy desk means a tidy brain.
My husband’s desk at work is covered with bits of paper, files, stationery and sometimes I can hardly see the surface of the desk at all.
My desk is clear with only what I’m using at that moment in time in front of me. Everything else gets put away in a drawer, filing trays or a cabinet.
From our different desks you can probably tell that I’m the more organised out of the two of us and I definitely work more efficiently. My husband would even admit that! He goes around in circles trying to find things, remembering where he last put something down, trying to find that important phone number on the random post-it note he stuck somewhere, if only he could remember where…
To my mind, a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind and when my desk is cluttered, I definitely find it more difficult to work. I get distracted, less focused and just feel a little bit less in control of what I need to get done.
If you can keep your desk, workstation, that little table in the corner of your living room (or wherever and whatever your desk looks like to you) clear and uncluttered then you may find it easier to work and get stuff done.
- Invest in a filing tray, a notebook, stationery – anything that helps you do your job efficiently and with a bit of enjoyment! A notebook with a fun cover, matching desk accessories in hot pink, whatever encourages you to work.
- Keep the stuff on your desk to a minimum, put things away when you’re not using them, have a place for filing paperwork that you need to action, is waiting on action by others or just needs filing.
Make your desk a pleasure to be at and you’ll enjoy working that little bit more (and hopefully be encouraged and motivated to keep your desk clear and tidy too!).
7. Digital distraction
If you work from home, I’m guessing that many of you will be using a computer, phone or some kind of device at some point. The internet and digital world is an exciting, informative place, which can connect us and share information simultaneously across the world.
However, we can waste so much time scrolling through social media feeds and confuse our brains with too many open tabs. We can be contacted at any time, anywhere, thanks to the mobile phones that most of us carry with us 24/7 and those pings, alerts and pop-ups make sure we never miss out, even when we’re trying to switch off.
If you work from home, you might need to set some little boundaries for yourself when it comes to when and how you use your screens.
Here are a few tips which could help:
- Put your phone on silent whilst you’re working (if you don’t need it)
- Turn off the internet when you’re not using it
- Pop your phone in your desk or high shelf so it’s out of sight (and maybe out of mind)
- Give yourself regular breaks so you have dedicated ‘distraction time’!
- Remove social media apps from your phone so you have to be at your computer to check them
If you recognise that distraction might be an issue for you, you might like this post on 10 ways to reduce distractions.
8. Digital clutter
I’ve mentioned about digital distraction and how our devices can tempt us away from what we should be doing but I wanted to also talk about digital clutter.
It’s so easy for our computers and phones to become clogged with files, photos, downloads etc. Not only does this take up valuable space (sometimes slowing our computers down) but it can also impede our productivity.
You might find that getting on top of your digital clutter, setting up systems and routines for managing your electronic files, inbox and data storage for example, could really help you be more productive and efficient.
Even if you don’t work from home, it definitely helps to be a bit more digitally organised in your personal life so you can find those photos or that email you were looking for!
For lots more tips on how to declutter your digital world, check out this post on how to do a digital declutter.
9. Working from home with kids
There’s no easy solution for balancing working from home with kids! For me, it was a case of just doing the best I could but realising that trying to give work or my kids 100% of my attention was always going to be difficult, if not impossible.
That said, there were a few little tips and tricks that I used to help make it easier and less stressful.
If you’d like to read them, check out my post on how to work from home with kids.
Having a clear, dedicated workspace definitely helps you to remain physically and mentally engaged in your work even if you can be doing that work in your pyjamas or loading the washing machine in between meetings.
However, many people struggle with the discipline and motivation to work from home, particularly if you’re used to being in a workplace environment.
Keeping productive and getting things done requires willpower and a fair amount of both juggling and planning.
Here are a few articles which might help you be (and stay) productive so you can get more out of your workday without feeling like you’ve been busy but achieved nothing.
11. Time management
Productivity is one aspect of time management. It’s about making sure you get the important things done, efficiently and well.
However, as you probably already know, being productive is a lot harder than being busy! You could be busy doing things, but are they the right things and are you doing them in the most efficient, effective way possible?
Managing our time well can take practice.
Some of us are more prone to distraction, procrastination, daydreaming, or just simply get confused about what to do first when it seems that everything is important and needs doing right now!
If time management is a problem for you, here are some articles which you might like to read:
Sometimes we lose our mojo to work and we can’t be bothered or just hit a brick wall or blank spot. Motivating ourselves is more difficult when we’re working on our own at home.
You might not have work colleagues to chat with or an office to walk about in, or a boss keeping an eye on you from across the room, so motivation has to come from within.
I like to keep a photo of my kids as my desktop background. Every time I see it, I remember that I work to pay the bills, provide for my family and set an example to my kids. That photo motivates me to keep working when I’ve lost my mojo!
Find something that motivates you – a picture of your last holiday, or your dream travel destination, your family, or your dog and look at it when you need to give yourself a pep-talk!
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
If you have any thoughts or tips to share on how to make working from home easier that might help other readers, I’d love to receive them! Drop a comment in the box below!
I’ve already included a few posts on how to make working from home easier, but here are a few last articles which could be helpful, particularly in managing your home with minimum effort and keeping things ticking over even if you’re busy: