4. There are hidden productivity pitfalls in your environment
When you are in a traditional workplace, you are in an environment that is controlled to meet your needs. Not so much when you work from home.
I discovered that there are some what I call, “hidden productivity pitfalls” just waiting for you. So it’s best you try to find as many of them as you can BEFORE you try to establish any work routine (more on that later.)
What am I talking about?
The loud music that starts up every day around 11:30 a.m just across the street from you…say goodbye to any meetings during the “DJ’s” 2-hour spell.
Your dogs who are delighted to see so much of you, they bark their delight every time you appear…trying to keep out of their way only makes it worse.
Really? You never noticed before how hot that corner where you set up your office can get between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m…and the fan only circulates the heat?
And oh no! they are finally going to put up a block of apartments on that lot that has been vacant for the past 5 years…aah the drilling, the cement mixer, the dust and…
These are examples of pitfalls which are hiding in your environment that will impact your productivity. It seems they are just waiting for you to show up. So you need to try to ferret out as many of them as you can before you move your work home.
What you should do, is try spending different days at home, and observe what’s happening in your internal and external environments, before you make your final move.
5. Boundaries will save your sanity when working from home
Be warned! You family and friends will believe you’re available to them, at their will. I know this first hand.
For example, my brother will make an appointment or buy something bulky and since he does not drive, I am expected to be his transportation.
Here’s another example I saw coming and was able to prepare for it.
Recently, I moved very near to my 2 grandsons. I knew that being 2.5 minutes by bike away from their favorite grandmother would be 7th heaven for them. And “work from home” hell for me.
Pretty soon, we had a signed agreement as to how and when visits would take place and be rewarded with favourite treats.
One of the very things that will help you to establish a “work first” mindset is to establish, and publish, some very clear boundaries. Yes, you have to let everyone know that they exist. This will save your sanity.
Working from home also requires other boundaries you seldom think of.
Your home is your home, and if you’re like me, it’s a fairly protected and private space. So I have boundaries for which meetings I have there and with whom. For most meetings, I have them off site, in more mutual surroundings.
And please set boundaries for those people who, now you’re at “home” insist that you’re always available to listen to how mad their partner made them last night…
6. You don’t need lots of fancy high tech equipment
I hope I got to you with this one before you put a dent in your limited cash flow. But you really don’t need loads of fancy equipment for “home work.” Most small business owners I know ain’t techie anyhow.
Yet, I get request like “can I come and look at your set up?” all the time. Oh! By all means…one laptop, one desktop, a cell phone and a high speed wifi connection. Oh! And a backup internet cable.
Look, a standing desk might not be for you. You don’t need a fancy webcam. But you do need to know how far away to sit from any camera, to place it at eye level and look into it as you speak.
Listen, whatever fancy equipment you have and your internet connection is poor, it will not help you.
I invested in highspeed internet and depending on what I want to do online, I plug a cable directly into a computer.
On the other hand, to stay connected with your team and to function effectively online, you should make use of some of the available tools to help you.
7. Be deliberate about social interaction and exercise
When you work AWAY from home, you interact with many people in the course of a day.
Working from home is quite the opposite. You can get caught up in work for days at a time especially if you’re trying to meet a deadline or finish a project.
But this is not good for you, your team or your customers. To operate at your best, you need to deliberately include some social activity in your routine. Yes, I’m mindful of the COVID world we’re living in and how difficult this might be at the moment. But you can be creative and safe.
Your brain needs the break from your routine in much the same way that routine saves your sanity.
Just as you need social interaction, you need to exercise. No, you don’t need a gym membership. You already know that exercise can take many forms.
What if you could combine your social activity with your exercise? You know, like meet a friend and go for a walk or jog on a regular basis? You can even schedule this in your weekly planning.
Me, I hike once a week with friends (we’re on pause at the moment) and that ticks several boxes:
- I get a chance to have fun with a group of crazy friends
2. It keeps me up to date with current affairs
3. They serve as a sounding board for my ideas
4. The actual hiking improves my focus and my physical health
5. I’m out in the sun getting much needed vitamin D
6. After the hike I am guaranteed a fresh and keen perspective on whatever I am working on
Remember…if you’re not deliberate about your social interaction and your exercise, they may or may not happen. And so will your productivity.