Updated: Feb 3
So here are some tips I use to work from home with ease.
Routine. Routine. Routine.
You may get anxiety working out of the office and thinking to yourself: “Am I working at home or hanging out at work?” “It’s 3pm and I should cut the grass really quick and get this work done later.” “Oh shit, it’s 6 am I think I have to check my emails.” Many people have the problem mentally turning off work when they are home or enjoying their home life when work is just few feet away or even worse, right on their phone. Setting your daily work at home routine is programming yourself through daily repetition. What you did yesterday and the day before, is what you will most likely do tomorrow.
Start at the same time each day
If I hit the gym at 5am or 7am I still hit my desk at 9 am. Gotta go pick up some power converters? Get back by 9 am. Get the kids on the bus, desk at 9 am. After a few years of making sure I am at my desk the same time each morning, I now magically appear at my desk at 9am. It’s like my body is on a loop. You should also eat lunch at the same time each day. That’s how you build good habits, by programming yourself through routine. Quit working at the same time each day. Once quitting time hits: That’s it. Done, done and done. Log off, shut your computer, leave your desk. The more consistent your schedule the better. Here is my schedule:
My Weekday Work From Home Schedule
5:30 Cardio or Weights 7-8:30am Side Business. 9am-12pm Work 12-12:30pm Lunch 12:30-5pm Work 5pm-8pm Family Time 8-10 pm Side Business 10-11pm TV with Wife 11pm Sleep
Get Disciplined separating Work from Home Time and Family Time
What if you’re not done working at quitting time? If you know that you will stop working at 5pm, you will work harder to get things done in the time that you have. We all need to be disciplined with how much time we allow for our work responsibilities. If you are working 10 hours a day and checking emails when you should be playing puzzles with your son, it’s time to get disciplined. If you are putting in your 8 hours a day but not getting your assignments done on time then you have two choices: 1) Figure out how to get more done in the time that you have. 2) Set new expectations with your colleagues. You are an employee not an indentured servant.
Leave the house every morning
Some people think if they work from home they will turn into a hermit. This can be avoided easily by getting out before work every day for one reason or another. Every morning I make sure I leave my house, I hit the gym, get my coffee, whatever. There is something magical about coming through the front door in the morning to start working. It resets your monkey brain to think, “Ok I do work now”. I also drink the same Seattle based coffee every morning, the main reason is my caffeine addiction but the other reason is that it helps me to set and keep the routine of going out and coming back to work.
If you work from home, get dressed like a human. Put on your thinking shoes.
Dressing like a human can greatly influence your brain to get things done. You may be more casual from day to day working remotely than in an office, but you need to be dressed so you are ready to hop up and meet someone at a moments notice. When money calls you’ve gotta go, and you can’t be dressed like the People of Walmart either. Nothing important ever got done by someone in their pajamas. Also, get your shoes on. The same sneakers have been on my feet at work every day for the past few years. I’ve tried flip flops or even just my socks and it just felt terrible! The shoes you wear tell your brain what you are doing at that time. Are you working? Then put on your shoes. Sitting by the pool? Then put on your flip flops. Playing soccer? Get your cleats, or don’t wear any shoes, depending on your background and feet durability.
Set up your work from home space
This is the fun part about working at home. You can set up your office or laboratory the way you like. Put some of your favorite toys on your monitor or you can paint the room candy apple red and you can bump your favorite Wu-Tang album as loud as you like. You can have a thinking chair like the guy from Blues Clues. To be more active, set up a standing desk by just stacking some boxes or working at a high table. Whatever works for work set it up that way.
Now set your work from home boundaries with your wife and kids.
When you operate out of a home office and you are making the money used to feed your family – then time you spend in that room is the most important thing that is going on in your house. Period. Establish with your family that when you are working, do not disturb. Working at home does not mean that you are constantly accessible for every little thing. If they need you, they can send a text or an email or just have them just wait until you come out of your lab at 5:00. Here is a quick test, if they would not walk into an office building with their problem then they should not walk into your lab/office to ask you to solve their issue.
Let’s say you are at work in your home office one sunny day and Child Number 3 comes in and wants you to help him paint. Or maybe Child Number 1 needs her computer updated with the latest OS. Or Number 2 is hungry and can’t operate a microwave because “Hey! Dad’s home, he can make my hot pocket”. Maybe Child 4 just took a shit and needs to be changed. Guess what you do? Nothing. You are at work. Send them away. Banish them from your (job) site! Because you are working and that needs to be respected as the most important thing going on in the house. They can find their own food, paint without lessons, wait until tonight for help or go cry to someone else to clean out their butt cheeks.
You are not at stay at home mom or stay at home dad.
This is business. If you want to work by the pool, fine. Just make sure you are getting things done. Your home is now your home office. You need to make sure you are not out running errands, washing dishes or painting the fence. If home stuff needs to get done and done by you, do so before or after your dedicated work hours. Taking out the garbage can turn into a whole routine, the next thing you know you are cleaning the garage and then staying up until 9pm getting caught up at work. Taking care of a house and kids is a full-time job on its own, ask my wife she’ll tell you.
The best way to make sure you keep working from home and don’t get sucked back into the office of the damned is to make sure you are just as present and efficient offsite as you are onsite. Best way to do this is to stay available online and get shit done.
Stay available and visible online.
Make sure you appear online when you are working so nobody thinks that you are off taking acid in a graveyard. When meetings can’t be avoided, take them via Skype or by phone conference. Share larger files through FTP or via dropbox. This is why the technology exists to make life easier.
Make a list. Nail it.
If you have 20 things on your to do list for today bang them out. If you have leftovers from the day before, bang them out first. Focus set your timer and Go!
The Pay Off
The best thing about a work from home gig is at quitting time, you are already home you can just come out of your office and relax. Now you can go hang out with your family, guilt free. The hours that you have for family time should also be scheduled so the wife and kids know when you will be available for fun. If you plan your work hours and work space then you minimize your stress during family time.