Over the 30+ years of my event planning career, I’ve always had a fully functioning home office to work nights, weekends – you know the drill, if it’s your company, work quickly becomes your hobby as well as your job. However, it wasn’t until the fall of 2018 that working from home became my full time situation and I have to say, I love every minute of it. Getting up early, planning my day with my first espresso, checking things off the list starting with the second and moving toward goals and timelines for the day, week, month. Because they’re mine to make, meet or change.
I’ve made this Tip List for working at home and I’ll explain them as I build on this post. But as you’ll read in Tip 7, I’ve only allocated an hour to this first posting and that time is up now.
Trish’s Working Happily At Home Tips
- Set the right space
- Set your schedule
- Get up at the same time every day
- Get dressed, completely
- Make lists and follow them
- Adjust the notification settings on all social media aps
- Start and STOP working on time
- Track ALL of your time (even if you’re not paid for it)
- Concentrate on your work, trust me, you’re BAD at multitasking
- Be available to who ever pays you
Tip One: Set the Right Space
Stand UP! People think event planners are running around ear pieces and clipboards all the time but, in reality, 90% of our looks very much like any other “desk-jockey” work … budgets, spreadsheets, emails galore. I’ll spend 18 months planning a biennial events that lasts 3 days – you do the math. I’d been reading about the negative effects of sitting so much for a while, when I saw an add for a Vari-Desk, a unit that you just pop on your existing work surface that adjusts easily up and down, allowing you to stand/sit throughout the day, with your keyboard tray and equipment remaining in the right position, perfect! Here’s the thing though: I’ve had the unit for 4 years now and I haven’t used the “Vari” since I set it up. I’ve been standing to read, work, play, talk on the phone, since 2016. When ever I work elsewhere, I take a few minutes to set up a standing workstation , use a counter or just stack some books or boxes under my equipment. At home, I lace up by best running shoes so I can can stand, bounce and occasionally dance while working. I only sit for meals, company and/or to watch TV.
Right Tools for the Job – This space is yours – set it up exactly the way you need it to be to do your job efficiently. TRUTH: keeping the privilege of working from home, depends on you doing your job BETTER than you did your Client or Employer’s office. If trusting employees to efficiently work at come came easily to every Employer, how many of them do you think woudl still be spending all of that money on office space?
I don’t know about you, but I hate typing on a laptop – twisting my hand back and forth between the tiny keyboard and that built in mouse? Nah, that’s for the rare occasions when a laptop is ACTUALLY on your lap. Get yourself a nice external keyboard & mouse – I type must faster with a proper keyboard and, after 30 years of it, (knock wood) NO sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. You might not need a printer/scanner like I do but if you do, get a good one, set it up in a logical position, plug it in and trouble shoot it before you need it so you won’t waste work time on technical issues.
Out of Sight, Purposely out of mind – Invest in attractive storage containers and use them to hide unfinished paperwork, office supplies etc when you’re not working. When work is in your rest space, it can be hard to mentally unplug if you can see that unread article, a letter to sign/send back, mail to open. Make space attractive and uncluttered so that when you’re not using it, it’s inviting … not threatening. Have a “special cup” that’s just yours and just for your desk – your Saturday/Sunday morning cup should be different. That may sound nuts but delineating is important: Work/Not Work.
Tip Two: Set Your Own Schedule and Stick To it
Nine to Five is an out of date construct. I figured out a long time ago that my most productive hours are from about 6 am to about 2 pm and you know what? No matter how early you start, if you are out playing, walking, running or just chilling in your own living room at 2, it feels like a day off. Now that I’ve moved though, my office has a south/west exposure and I find it less than ideal for me to work between 1 and 3, so I work from 6 to 1, break until 3 and work until 6 pm which allows me to start before anyone is looking for me and finish up after they’ve all sent their last emails for the day. “Less than ideal” is in Boldface because this your office, your plan – you’re going to get the work done, you’re going to perform the required number of work hours for yourself or someone else in your own space so ideal is what you get to shoot for.
Between 1 and 3 is when I turn the sound off anything that might beep or ring, prepare a proper lunch and eat it seated at a table, with the appropriate place setting. This leaves time for some form of play – in my case, with a dog, I use that extra time to go for our long walk featuring a stop at the dog park. Typically, I’ll do a quick check into my phone and inbox between eating and heading out so that I can focus on play and know that the longest anyone will have to wait to hear back from me is 60 minutes – a reasonable lunch break, if anyone is keeping track.
The biggest problem with “being allowed” to work from home is trust. Why else would so many companies pay all that rent for people to do jobs they could easily do remotely? Because they suspect that if they can’t see you, you’re not working for them. You need to be MORE efficient/reliable/productive’helpful to who ever is paying you, working from the comfort of your own home than you ever were in the office. I’ve done both – I am DEFINITELY worth more to my clients when I work from home, the trick is making sure they see that too.
Tip Three: (Try To) Get up at the Same Time Every day
Just like calling it a day “early”, getting up early enough that you can leisurely get ready, meditate, maybe do some yoga, etc before your “work day” starts , can feel like a treat and you’ll be in the right frame of mind when you open up that Mail icon. There are SO many studies about the value of consistent, healthy sleep habits – most of them site scary facts about the links between poor sleep patterns and diseases from mild to life threatening but you know what? We’re living in our own horror movie right now so I’ll just say this: you’ll do a better job at everything if you work on habits that improve the quality and quantity of your sleep (but you know that). The goal is this: get so used to waking up at a certain time that you stop depending on alarms to do it – those things go against every rule of civility your brain has established for you. There you are happily dreaming away when suddenly, you’re dreaming that there’s this irritating noise going on in the otherwise beautiful scene your brain has produced to make your sleep that much more enjoyable … until you finally wake up and realize it’s the alarm. So, what are you feeling when you wake up that way? Irritated, short-changed and tired. If you worked a “regular office job” until COVID19 and now find yourself working at home, keep getting up at the same time you always did to go to their office. That will help with two things: you’ll either start/stop earlier or you’ll get bonus time to do more healthy things before you start work AND when you go back to work in their office, you won’t have a jet-lag type adjustment period.