Working From Home

How I manage working from home. Tags: remote soft-skills

I have been working remotely for a while now. Over those years I wasted a lot of time "working" without real focus, with constant interruptions and breaks. Over time I managed to tenfold my productivity and work effectiveness. Following is my advice:

  1. Have an office
  2. Keep regular schedule
  3. Track your work

1. Have an office

In the beginning my office used to be my bedroom. My general advice is don't work where you rest or do anything unrelated to work. If you don't have any place in your house/apt to spare for a makeshift office consider going to library, quiet caffee, coworking space etc.

My office is separate room that I visit just when I am at work and which I can access only by leaving the house. My family is not allowed to come in unless its urgent or they want to work there in peace.

In the office I have a custom built wide desk with two monitors on one side and blank desk for design work and writing on the other side. On my right there is a window and behind my back are glass doors which let in natural light. A good chair is a must for every office.

2. Keep regular schedule

I am in the office at 9:00 without exception. If I go to sleep early I ll get up at 7:00, go for a run, workout, take a shower and have a good breakfast before I start working. If I stayed up late I might get up at 8:50 but I'll still make sure I'm dressed up and in the office by 9:00.

I'll usually work until 13:00 when I'll go and make/eat lunch in the kitchen with my SO. I'm back in the office by 14:00 and I'll work until 18:00 when I leave my office for the day.

When and how I work is important, however my primary goal for such strict schedule is to leave work at work and not "bring it home" with me. It's all too easy to slip into everyday - all day "working" where you have short productivity bursts between rounds of procrastinating and spending all your day on the computer.

3. Track your work

Tracking your work is important. If you work for someone else you have a work log to show them, if you're your own boss you have a log to analyse and find where the time went, if you're working on multiple projects you have time log to check and see if you're giving appropriate amount of time to each project, etc.

Tracking time and analyzing results forces you to be conscious of work and not-work activities. When you're in the office you can do two types of activities - work activities that bring you closer to your work goals and all the other activities. Checking your personal email, chatting with your friend, switching songs etc. can eat a huge chunk of your work time. By tracking time you can make sure you're spending your time in the office for work only. If you cant make yourself work for 4 hours straight, break your work hours into smaller chunks.

The goal is to either work or not work. Mixing work, fun, family or other activities will end up bad for everyone involved.