How to Work from Home Successfully
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
Whether you’re a 9-to-5 office worker or an entrepreneur used to running around to clients and conferences for different business opportunities, the health crisis has caused many people to make the dramatic shift to working entirely from home.
As someone who’s experienced the whole spectrum of work setups — everything from corporate offices to coworking spaces to getting work done on cross-country flights — I can say firsthand that even though it can be hard to make this quick transition, there are steps you can take to make working from home more manageable. Many people will even find some advantages to this setup that can help propel your business or career.
Establish a routine
The key to working from home successfully is to establish a routine. If you approach each day with a plan on what you’re going to get done for every hour you’re on the clock, you’ll probably find that you can get way more done in just a few hours than you could in a lackadaisical eight-hour workday.
For example, you could establish a schedule where you spend the first hour of your day tackling your most pressing task while you have the most brainpower. Then you could dedicate time specifically to catching up on emails and checking in with clients and colleagues, rather than dealing with a slow trickle of communications that clog up your day. From there, you could set a goal relevant to your job, such as writing one article per afternoon or setting aside two hours to work on website design.
When you get into the zone and have a clear goal in sight, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done. Even for those who have to adjust to changes like having kids at home due to schools being closed, establishing a routine will make it easier for your family to understand when you’re working and when you’re not so you can be more present in both areas.
Use organizational and communications tools
As part of establishing a routine, it’s also important to have the right tools in place to be able to stay organized and communicate well with colleagues, clients and others while working from home.
If you haven’t already, look into tools like Trello and Asana that make it easy to keep track of projects, either for yourself or if you want to track projects collaboratively with others.
Also look into communication tools that make it easy to stay up-to-date with everyone without clogging up your inbox. You can create separate chat channels, such as having one for your department and one for company-wide communications. Entrepreneurs can also set up private-chat channels to keep in touch with loyal customers.
Video conferencing tools can also make working from home more successful. While not necessarily a perfect substitute for in-person meetings, video conferences can still help you pick up on non-verbal cues that play a big role in communications. For less important meetings, however, you may be able to skip those by communicating the information via email or group chats.
Invest your time wisely
As many of you are likely seeing already, working from home can add time to your day that would have otherwise been spent on things like commuting or in-person meetings. You also might be able to establish a routine that allows you to get more done in less time without general office distractions.
Use this extra time wisely to invest in growing your business or establishing your career in areas that you may have been putting off in the past. For example, now could be a good time to focus more on social media networking and building your portfolio. That way, if your employment or economic situation takes a turn for the worse, you can be in a better position to market your skills and find new opportunities.