Well, we all seem to be working at home now, and you either love it, or you hate it. Not much middle ground, and I suspect whether you love or hate it has a lot to do with how many things (and people) besides work you have going on at home. In many cases, carving out a functional home work environment will require conscious cooperation of everyone in the house. While they need to understand you have certain times where you can’t be disturbed, you also need to realize that fighting home-based distractions is not always the best approach to creating a harmonious, functional, and productive home work environment. The struggle is real, but Imaging Office Systems has some strategies that can help...
Thoughtful, Reality-Based Tips for Working from Home
- Create separation between work time and playtime: To work successfully from home, you need a workspace that’s separate from your playtime areas. The whole idea is you want to create mental separation from play and ordinary domestic life...and set the physical stage for mental focus and getting into your creative flow.
- Create flexible routines for your morning, afternoon, and evening: One of the most difficult things about working from home is balancing home life with work life. Both sides of life are very important in their own way, so it might be unrealistic to expect home life to completely give way to work life between the hours of 9 and 5. Home life just doesn’t work like that. Especially if you have kids in the house, who are also at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Don't fight home life. It might make more sense to build your workday around the predictable events of being at home...such as kids waking up and wanting breakfast, the dog needing to be walked, kids being hungry for lunch, afternoon snack and playtime, dinner, and bedtime. The reality of working at home is that smaller chunks of uninterrupted time will be much more practical than a straight eight hours. Consider accepting this reality and simply building your task time around it.
- Clamp down on the distractions you can control: It’s time to turn off all notifications on your phone except for those that are absolutely essential. No game notifications. No social media notifications. Turn them all off, or delete the apps altogether! When working at home, you have to take responsibility for creating an environment in which you can focus, and you really must take advantage of all possible off buttons.
- To-do lists are your boss: Create a task agenda to accomplish, and let it be your boss. Actively accept the structure, and self-enforce it. Look at it each day and make regular updates, according to the sometimes changing priorities of your organization throughout the week. Review progress at the end of each day. When you wake up the next day, your task agenda should be one of the first things you look at.
- Block off quiet time to think and strategize. This time is different than task time...it’s the time you need to figure out how you’re going to approach your tasks. Try not to stare at a blank white screen. Surround yourself with tools and inspiration to stimulate brain activity: paper, pens, markers, paints, coloring books, a deck of cards, a whiteboard, or even take a notebook for a walk to a nearby park (while maintaining recommended social distancing during coronavirus). From my experience, there’s something about analog, physical activity (even if it’s just your hands) that stokes creative, high-level thinking. Innovation comes from different places. Expose yourself to new ideas and new sources of content. Books, websites, blogs, conferences, chats with people in your industry and other industries, tweet and hashtag searches, podcasts, videos … the list is large. The point is, you don’t know what will inspire your next great idea or approach—the human brain often works in mysterious ways.
- Don’t be afraid to share half-formed ideas with your team over digital channels. When working in an office, it’s common to bring up a nascent idea informally (corridor encounters, water cooler chat, etc.) before you bring it up in a more formal setting, such as a conference table. Informal input can be invaluable in refining your idea and prepping it to present to your team. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific informal feedback from trusted colleagues.
- Always be operating in a state of “continuous improvement” with remote work technology. Basic email, phone, and instant messaging capabilities provide rudimentary remote connectivity with your work colleagues—and can suffice for short durations. However, when dealing with important documents that have specific routing requirements, where multiple approvals are needed, email can become very cumbersome very fast. Sure, you could scan and upload important documents to a free cloud-based document management system, but security is a major concern with public cloud solutions from Google and the like. The perfect-world goal would be to have full interactive visual and tactile telepresence. That may be a ways off—but Imaging Office Systems can get you as close to Star Trek-level telepresence as current technology will allow.
Contact Imaging Office Systems to learn more about the solutions we offer to make working-from-home better for everyone!