Prior to COVID, working from home was a rare but sought-after experience. But when we all ended up working from home for extended periods – with other family members, pets, and all our stuff around us – many discovered that it can be hard to be productive in that setting.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people primarily working from home tripled between 2019-2021 from 5.7% (roughly 9 million people) to 17.9% (27.6 million people). Numbers reported by career tracker Zippia indicate that trend has continued, with over 25% of workers in the U.S. now working from home voluntarily or involuntarily at least part of the time.
If you’re one of those people and are still slouched on a couch, crammed at the kitchen table, or hunched in bed when you work from home, it is time to stop camping. Schedule some time to make working from home actually work.
Establish a “Daily Commute.” Schedule 15 minutes at the beginning of your work day to “travel” into work. In that time, you’ll intentionally clear the designated workspace of personal clutter and unpack and set up your work materials, even if it’s just your laptop. By wrapping up and setting aside the personal and consciously preparing to engage in work, you prime your brain for the thinking work requires. At the end of the day, “commute” home by giving yourself 5 minutes to pack up work and relax back into the personal.
Designate a work area, and clear the clutter. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Your goal isn’t to overhaul your entire home, simply to carve out an area where you can focus on your work. Once you designate where you want to work, try just picking up one thing at a time and walking it to another part of the living space. Then pick up another item, and so on, until you have cleared a little work area. You don’t even have to throw anything out (though you can!) just re-home items out of your newly designated “work” zone.
While working, actively embrace the Principle of Upright. Energy changes and access is better when things are upright. So look for ways to get both your body and your stuff UP. Try creating a standing desk by using a bookshelf, dresser, counter as a workspace. Consider a box, tub or crate on a lower surface to elevate your laptop so you have a standing desk. If you choose to sit, use a task chair rather than a super deep couch or a bed. Also look for ways to get your materials upright using document and file holders.
Be kind to yourself. If your work-from-home set up is not ideal, do what you can to improve it, and then simply accept the limitations that you can’t change and cheerfully do your best within those constraints.
Be sure to ask if your workplace will provide resources for you to purchase needed items to make working remotely more productive. Many companies now support tools and technology purchases for remote employees.
Let me know if you need help transforming your home work environment so you can work productively.