Some people love working from home because they find they can focus a lot more effectively than when they are at the office. They know how to prioritise and how to structure their day around what matters most.
Others really struggle with it because of the amount of distractions available when they are at home, so they don’t actually get much work done. Or they overwork and burn out.
If you fall into the later this blog is for you. Here are the essentials to make working from home both a highly productive and enjoyable experience:
Be intentional. Typically the act of “going to work” – whether we have an hour long train ride to get there or a 10 minute walk – creates a level of intentional action within us. That intentional action is very important. Just like if you were going into the office, decide at the beginning of the day what the most important tasks you need to accomplish that day.
While you’re at it, set an intention for your mindset – the frame of mind that will serve you best for those tasks. It could be creativity, focus, flexibility, etc. The important thing here is to consider not just ‘What do I really want to achieve today?’ but also ‘How do I need to be being in order to achieve that?’ In our online brain training program Your Success Code, we offer a powerful tool for this called Advanced Hindsight where you learn how to communicate with your unconscious mind the experience you want to create for yourself that day. Because when we choose consciously, we aren’t leaving it to chance. We’re taking responsibility for our outcomes, which is vital to living healthy, balanced lives.
Be flexible. Don’t expect that working from home will be the same as going to the office and expect that same level of effectiveness from yourself immediately. If we’re new to it, particularly if we have kids around and we don’t actually have a home office set up, we’ll need to experiment with different strategies to find flow. Go easy on yourself about this. Communicate with others in the house when you’ll be working and when you’ll be available for conversations. It’s important not to blame our productivity (or lack thereof) on the environment, but rather, find ways to work within the context we’re in.
I normally do my best work at co-working spaces, digital nomad hotspot cafes, or libraries. I join in the energy of others working and that’s how I really get into it. I noticed that I don’t work as focused when I’m on my own so I started having virtual coworking sessions with friends and colleagues. We use the pomodoro technique: set a timer for 25 minutes and share what we’ll focus on during that block of time. When the timer goes off, we message each other to check in with our progress. We take a 5 minute break to go to the loo or make a cup of tea and then we come back and do it again. I am regularly amazed at what can be accomplished in 4 pomodoros – just 2 hours.
Be accountable. Whether you consider yourself intrinsically motivated or extrinsically motivated, accountability is still relevant. When we’re employed accountability is built into our performance management structure, but if we are entrepreneurs, we need to develop our own ways of keeping ourselves accountable to what truly matters.
I found that I would get so absorbed with all the little day to day business tasks that I was neglecting the big picture projects. With the day to day stuff I had clients and other stakeholders who were relying upon me delivering those so it was easy for me to prioritise them. There wasn’t anyone outside of me holding me to my big picture goals. So I negotiated an arrangement with one of my coaches that I would pay her $100 each day that I didn’t do the thing I said I would do the night before. It was an experiment – I wasn’t sure how I would respond because I’m not actually motivated by making money. I suspected that I could use the psychological phenomenon of loss aversion to my advantage and my hypothesis was confirmed. Losing money because I didn’t do something I committed to just isn’t an option for me psychologically so it’s proven to be a highly effective strategy. And it helps me avoid overwhelm and burn out by thinking about what is a reasonable sized task I can fit into my day to keep moving the dial forward.
So in summary, be intentional, be flexible, and be accountable and you are bound to be effective in working from home. Feel welcome to reach out for a spotlight session if you’d like me to support you further.