How to Manage Your Work-From-Home Life

Let’s get the introductions out of the way: I’m Caitlin. I’m a content creator and community manager at Jumpwire Media, with years of experience and viral posts under my belt. I collect teapots, I love Starbucks, I write novels, and I work from home 3 out of the 5 days during the week.

It’s what every millennial wants, right? The ability to roll out of bed just before you clock-in and turn on the TV to endless talk shows as background noise. Couch, kitchen table, dedicated office space – you can sit wherever you want when you work from home and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg on gas to get to a downtown office building. Your family or roommates admire your ability to stay focused.

But do you actually stay focused all day? With distractions like kids (remember everyone’s favorite BBC Dad) and pets, it’s almost impossible for the work day to run smoothly without some kind of emergency popping up. Say, for example, your child is throwing up or your cat got out. What do you do? Working from home comes with its limitations, but here are some tips for remaining focused and productive during the daily grind.

Prioritize

 

list

 

  • Make a list
    • Organize your day in a handy app like Google Calendar or Teamwork and check off tasks as you complete them.
    • Block out times to work on certain projects and move them around as other tasks pop up.
  • Use a check-in system like Slack
    • We let the rest of our team know what our tasks are for the day to keep us accountable.
    • It lets the team know when we’re online and available.
  • Figure out what works best for you and stick to it
    • I like to start my day with easy tasks and get to the harder ones later.
    • Mornings are slow as we wait for our LA team to start their day (they’re 3 hours behind!). This gives me time to get coffee and get into the rhythm of things before working on projects that take two or more hours.

 

Get Dressed

 

dressed

“But if I’m working from home, no one is going to see what I’m wearing!” That’s not the point.

  • You’re still working. Dress the part.
  • It moves you away from the “home” mindset and into the “office” mindset.
  • Trick yourself into being more productive.
    • It actually works. When you change out of your pajamas, you have more obligation and motivation to get work done.

You might be working on the couch in your living room, but you’re still at work. Look the part, feel the part.

 

Office Space

 

typing

 

Okay, so the couch isn’t the best place to work. It might be the most comfortable but lacks practicality. Here are some tips I’ve learned about having a home office:

  • Dedicate a home office or desk as your workspace.
    • Keep it clutter-free (no books, no snacks – these will only distract you).
  • Get a proper chair.
    • Preferably one with back support.
    • Don’t sit on your couch all day, but make sure you’re comfortable (a hard kitchen chair certainly isn’t comfortable).
  • Have bright, video-friendly lighting.
    • Poor lighting will only lead to eye problems and strain.
  • Make it homely, but not too homely.
    • Buy a couple office plants and give them names.
    • Decorate! Don’t be afraid to hang inspirational cat posters or colorful sticky notes everywhere.

 

No Social Media

 

social

 

I included this section for the laughs. We work in social media – it’s impossible for us to NOT be on it while we’re doing work. But, if you work in a different sector, social media is a distraction. Here’s how you can manage your addiction while on the clock:

  • Avoid going on your personal accounts at home.
    • My hack? I have 3 different Chrome browsers – one for client work, one for other work-related things like emails, and my personal accounts. Open the others, close the personal ones.
  • Put your phone away.
    • Turn your phone off or on silent when you aren’t using it to avoid getting noisy notifications.
    • Keep your phone in a separate room if it helps.
    • Let all other non-work-related phone calls go to voicemail.

Staying focused and productive while working from home won’t happen overnight. It can take a few weeks or even months to get into a rhythm. What works for you might not work for me. These are just a few tips to keep focused on the job at hand and not the everyday distractions of home life.

 

 

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