• Matt Phillips

How to Survive Working From Home

Working from home. Everyone’s doing it right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tricky. Being productive when working from home can be one of the most challenging things for brand builders, us included! Our Brand Nation team has had our fair share of difficulties with this ourselves, so we decided to do our best to help you out as you seek to make working from home viable and productive. Here are a few tips on how to survive working from home!

#1 – Establish whether or not you’re the type of person who can work from home

For some of us, working from home is just as easy as working in the office. We can shift our minds to “work mode” and sit down at our computers and get a lot done. If you’re this type of person, congrats! You’ve got a leg up, because the majority of people run into some major hurdles when attempting to work from home. For most of us, working home is possible, but not effective. We struggle to separate different facets of life; staying at home means that the lines begin to blur between what is work and what is personal. If you’re one of these people, it’s important to carefully evaluate how viable it is to work from home. Are the obstacles you face too large to overcome? Do you consistently find it nearly impossible to get things done? If you decide that this is the case, maybe you should consider working at a coffee shop, local library, or restaurant. Wherever you decide to work, it shouldn’t be at home. However, if you decide that you’re ready to overcome those obstacles and start being productive at home, the rest of this post is for you! Below, we’ll walk through some steps you can take to maximize your time working from home.

#2 – Set aside a space exclusively for work

When working from home, most people’s biggest downfall is that they try to work in the same room where they sleep/relax. This is a problem, because our brains like to form habits. In this case, our brains are telling us that when we’re in our bedroom or living room, it’s time to relax. We’ve gotten so used to spending our time in this room watching tv, sleeping, eating, or reading that it becomes nearly impossible to be productive. Because of this, it’s essential to set aside a space within your home that is designed specifically for work. Literally only for work. Never go in there to do anything besides work. By doing this, you train your brain to go into “work mode” when you’re in that one room, even though you’re inside of your home. Failing to do this often means failing to be productive at home, so this is the most important step to take in this whole process! Make sure to set aside a space for yourself to sit down and get crap done.

#3 - In the morning, “go to work.”

It can be tempting to let the lines blur between work hours and home hours. You’re at home, so you can be more flexible with when you do and don’t work, right? Wrong. In fact, it’s more important when working from home to make sure that you keep consistent hours. By drifting from a normal schedule, pushing work back later and later into the night, and letting life’s distractions pull you away from accomplishing work tasks, you begin to spiral into bad sleep habits, decreased productivity, and stress. It is crucial to treat each at-home workday like any other normal day. In the morning, wake up, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and go to work. Physically get up, walk into your office, close the door, and let your mind transition into work mode. Once you’re in that room, the rest of the house around you doesn’t exist. You’re now “at the office,” meaning that you can’t leave to switch laundry, make the kids a snack, clean up the living room, answer the door, or any other tasks you would normally complete at home. All you’re allowed to do is work.

A great way to achieve this level of separation is to find a nice pair of noise-cancelling headphones (subtle plug for AirPods pro; they’re the best). By plugging in to some music and drowning out the noise of the house around you, you can fool yourself into thinking that you’re actually in a different location. Another way to feel disconnected from the world of home life is to only interact with family members in ways you could interact with them if you were actually at a physical office. No yelling down the hall or stepping out of the office to have a quick chat with your spouse. If someone needs something, they have to call you on the phone, text you, or just wait to talk until you’re off of work. Though this seems a bit ridiculous (and annoying to your family), it really helps you to feel more like you’re actually away at the office, which is exactly what you need to be productive.

#4 – Work during normal business hours

As we briefly mentioned earlier, it’s critical that you work only during normal business hours. If you stop doing this, you start to lose the distinction between different facets of life and productivity declines quickly. Our Brand Nation team can attest to this; we’ve both fallen prey to the “I’ll just burn the midnight oil” mentality, and it’s not pretty. It can be attractive at first, and it may even work well for a while, but it eventually leads to sleep deprivation and stress. By pushing work back farther and farther, we inevitably wait until it’s much too late to start; it’s 11:00 at night and there’s still 3 or 4 hours of work to do. This is a very unhealthy schedule, and it slowly but surely eats away at your sleep until you’re exhausted all the time.

Work during the day, even when it seems like there are a million better things to be doing around the house. The business world operates between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, so you should too. You’ll be able to interact with colleagues in real time instead of sending an email at 12:15 am and waiting until your boss gets to the office the next morning to receive a reply. Business is meant to be done during the day, and personal life starts after 5:00. This can be frustrating, but disciplining yourself to do it will yield great results and a lot less stress.

These are just a few tips on working from home, but hopefully they have been helpful to you! As we all navigate this pandemic together, let’s remember that everyone else is going through the exact same crap. No one was prepared for this, and everyone is having to learn as they go. If you find productivity eludes you when you work from home, that’s ok. Give yourself grace and work to solve the problem. You’ve got this!

For more awesome brand-building resources, check out digitalbrandnation.com. There you can listen to the podcast version of this episode, or watch the video version, as well as find other blog posts, e-books, and much more! #TeamBrandNation

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