I started working from home 5 years ago when I became self-employed. I like it because I don’t have to commute, I don’t need to talk to people if I don’t feel like it, and I can take advantage of the comfort of my home while easily managing the household chores.
However, recent studies have shown that working from home can increase your stress level. I am not surprised; it isn’t all rosy. For instance:
- I have no colleagues to say hello to or have a chat with when I feel like it, so I can end up working way too much, without taking a break
- I can be frequently interrupted when my family members are around
- I am tempted to be lazy because of all the distractions next to me: the sofa, the TV, the fridge, the bed, etc.
- Despite all the interactions I have on Zoom, I am by myself most of the time, and it gives me the impression to be isolated
Working from home requires some discipline, especially if you’re a nomad and what you call home frequently changes.
So, here are 5 techniques to help you create discipline and be efficient when working from home (wherever home is: next to the beach or in a city).
1) Create a working space
In the expression working from home, the most important word is working.
You must switch your working mode on. And it starts by creating your own private working space somewhere in your home.
You may think that you can work on the beach every day, but trust me, it will be a nice experience for the first days, before it turns out to be more of a distraction than anything else.
So, if you live by yourself, choose a comfortable spot. If you live with others and have access to a spare room, I recommend you make it your office. If you don’t, ensure your working space is isolated enough so you are not on the way of any other household members when you are working.
One of the advantages of working from home is that you can enjoy different parts of your home depending on your mood and the type of work you tackle.
For example, as a coach, I must continuously educate myself to better advise my clients. So reading is part of my daily schedule. I like to do it on my balcony when weather permits.
2) Maintain a schedule
If you were ever working at an office before, I am sure you had a schedule. You were leaving home at a certain time, breaking for lunch, and coming back home more or less at the same time every day. Perhaps once per week, you were stopping by the grocery store on your way back home. Maybe on Fridays, as the weekend was calling, you would leave earlier.
Having a schedule helps you efficiently manage your time, it builds routines, and therefore it creates discipline.
When you work from home, it is easy to be sucked in the vortex of working all day long. So, apply the same principle as it you were working at the office (because you are at the office!), and ensure you maintain a schedule, which includes work, personal activities as well as days off.
A special note if you live with others:communicate your schedule to them because they may not be on the same working schedule as you, and they need to know when you can’t be disturbed. For instance, I record my podcast from home. I share my calendar with my partner, so she is aware of my activity and make sure not to make noise when I am “on air”.
3) Stick to a working routine
Let me repeat it: working from home is work.
That’s why you should have a working routine.
For instance, wake-up as you would for any working day, dress-up like you would if you were going to the office, start your working day at a specific time, take coffee breaks, have a proper lunch and close your working day at a certain time.
Don’t worry, work will still be there tomorrow. But you won’t be able to tackle it if you are exhausted.
During the week, I usually wake up around 5.45 am, have my breakfast then go work out (I am a CrossFit enthusiast). I would typically start my working day at 9.30 – 10 am and would finish at the latest by 7.30pm.
I avoid working on the weekends, although from time to time, when my schedule is pretty hectic, I need to finish all my tasks on Saturdays.
4) Meet other people
When you are by yourself all day long, you risk dissocializing.
Humans are social animals, we crave relationships. Actually, it is proven that our health benefit from great relationships.
Now that the pandemic restrictions have been lifted in most countries, you should take the opportunity to go out and meet people in person.
Online meetings are convenient, but nothing will replace an old-fashioned in-person face-to-face meeting. Many co-working spaces offer day passes. Perhaps pay a visit to one from time to time.
Or do what I do: I like to book business meetings over lunch. It is always a great way to get to know someone in a casual atmosphere and it forces you to take a break from your work.
5) Buy good equipment
If you were working at an office, you would expect your employer to provide you with the best equipment to do your job.
Now that you work from home, treat yourself with quality equipment so you can enjoy your day at work. You don’t need to invest thousands, but you do need to invest a little, first in a fast and reliable Internet connection. I find there is nothing worse than a bad broadband.
Then, purchase basic equipment like a mobile phone, computer, video camera (if the build-in camera isn’t good enough), headphones, a mic, a large-enough desk, and a comfortable chair to go with it.
Also, ensure you have sufficient lighting and add a touch of green plants to boost your mood. And most importantly, don’t forget to get proper medical insurance that is adapted to your nomadic lifestyle so you can get any support, anywhere, anytime, just in case. It is called peace of mind.
Laurent Notin is a Coach To Entrepreneurs, Start-up Mentor, and Host of Inter:views, Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code podcast. He works with entrepreneurs across the globe. He has also been an advisor to the Board of For Nomads Group Ltd. ever since it was just an idea on a piece of paper.
Reach out to him: email@example.com