Whether you’re working from home due to COVID-19 or you’ve started working virtually as a freelancer or remote worker permanently, you’ve come to the right place. However, one of the biggest problems we face when working from home is staying productive.
However, when you set up your office the right way and follow appropriate procedures (like the ones mentioned in this checklist!), your productivity increases by 13% than when working from the office. Recent studies have shown that remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than office-based employees. We’ve put together a working from home checklist with all of the points you need to stay productive and focused when working from home.
The Ultimate Working from Home Checklist:
1- Create a Home Office
The first step in our working from home checklist is setting a home office or workspace that you’re comfortable in and where you can focus on getting work done. A separate room would be ideal, but even a dedicated corner in your living room, garage, or attic, will do fine. I prefer my work corner to be near a window as the natural lighting and fresh air relax me and helps me stay focused.
Here is all of the essential equipment I’ve used to build my home office:
- Computer/ laptop: If your computer lags, suddenly shut down, or is too slow – you may need to consider an upgrade. Your laptop is the backbone of your home office.
- Wireless keyboard & mouse: If you don’t already have these, a wireless keyboard and mouse can saved you days of back pain and strain on your wrists.
- Ergonomic chair: Since you’ll be working from home, you’ll be at your computer for long hours, and an uncomfortable or stiff chair can cause severe back and tailbone injury with time and poor posture.
- Desk: Working from your kitchen island, dining table, or dresser can only offer you little comfort while being in the middle of everything –, and it’ll be messy; an L-shape desk is my personal favorite because it barely takes any space at all!
- Noise-canceling headphones: Not only will these help you mute any surrounding distractions and stay in the zone, but headphones with a microphone are also much-needed for meetings.
- External hard drive: Cloud storage is great to backup all of your work files, but in many cases, an external hard drive is safer. This is also ideal for portability if you want to change your work spot.
2- High-speed Internet
Having a reliable and fast internet connection is vital to your working from home experience. Without good internet, there will be a significant delay in getting work done. Your internet may be okay for sending emails or browsing the web, but would it support video conferencing calls or using heavy applications if needed?
Be sure to opt into increasing your internet speed before working from home. There are multiple ways to do this. For example, you can upgrade your home internet plan, use your mobile hotspot, use your phone’s internet, get a network adapter to strengthen the connection, or get a Wi-Fi hotspot.
3- Using the Right Online/ Desktop Applications
Not being surrounded by your colleagues and not having the in-office tools can feel strange and may affect your productivity, especially the first few weeks of working from home. Most, if not all, of your tasks, are done online. But you can now manage projects, manage your time, communicate and collaborate with your team, perform marketing strategies, and follow up on sales through online apps.
A popular communication app is Slack, and you can create groups and threads and always have an open messaging channel with your team. For project management, you can check out Asana, Basecamp, Todoist, or Trello, for a more visually appealing platform, where you can set deadlines for projects, assign tasks, attach files, and more. The two top choices are Zoom and Google Hangouts; you can add multiple individuals in meetings and share your screen. Finally, for time management, you can use apps like Toggl, Timely, or Remember the Milk, where you can track how long you take on projects, compare time spent between tasks, track your breaks, and organize your week more efficiently. Add these apps to your working from home checklist to fully optimize your office!
4- Avoid Distractions & Interruptions
One of the hardest things we face when working from home is staying focused and avoiding distractions and interruptions. Whether it is the list of chores waiting to be done, the telephone ringing, kids, or anything else – the challenge is real. If your home office is in a separate room, closing the door and maybe even hanging a sign on the knob will help set boundaries with your family members. They’d know not to disturb you as long as the door is closed.
Noise-canceling headphones also help you stay focused, canceling outside noises like your neighbors, the TV outside, and any other noises. Something else that’s helped me is silencing my phone; message notifications can be very tempting, so keeping your phone on silent and out of arms’ reach is a great idea. You need to take active steps to eliminate distractions and not just hope for some quiet time.
5- Set a Work Schedule – and Stick to It
You may think that working from home means working for a few hours or random times during the day, and this is where you’re wrong. Creating a routine of when you start and finish work will implement a healthy work-life balance, and it’ll reassure you don’t overwork yourself or procrastinate when you should be working. So if you’re a morning person and get that surge of energy early, then set your working hours then, or if you’re a night owl and can only get work done after the kids’ sleep, then set your schedule accordingly.
Most importantly, commit to your schedule! Setting a routine is the only way to guarantee you’ll get any work done and will help you meet your set deadlines.
6- Establish Clear Communications
To compensate for in-person communications with your team, you need to ensure you have natural and clear communication established remotely. For example, try having quick 15-minute meetings every morning where everyone would go through their current tasks or can ask questions to set a plan for the day ahead. And through messaging platforms like Slack, the team can stay connected and collaborate; you can use the status option to set when you’re open for chatting or if you’re busy and let your team members know when you’re available.
Video conferencing is also a considerable method to ease communication and ensure you still get the face-to-face interactions that you’re missing. Naturally communicating daily guarantees, everyone is on the same page and within reach.
7- Take Regular Breaks
Setting scheduled breaks really matter to remain productive; you can set small breaks between tasks or an hour lunch break, but most importantly, how you spend your break is what counts. For example, if you take a break and stay seated in front of the computer, it’ll be useless.
Do some stretches, go for a walk, interact with your family members, or get a cup of coffee. Then, just step away from the computer to disconnect and reboot your energy. Staying seated for long hours can ultimately lead you to be unproductive because your body and mind need a break! So don’t overwork yourself or stare at the screen for long. It’s not always in your best interest.
8- Always Have a Clean Space
Working from home can sometimes get dull from repetitive day-to-day actions, and you may not even bother cleaning your desk or workspace. I believe that a cluttered workspace leads to a cluttered mind; having paper mail and files stacked on your desk, a full garbage bin, or any mess in your sight will heighten your stress levels.
At the start or end of your day, try to quickly clean your space to avoid a bigger mess that’ll only take longer to clean eventually. A clean space will help keep you organized and set you on the right track for your day.
9- Avoid Isolating Yourself
A common problem all remote workers complain of is loneliness or feeling isolated. When you work from home, this tends to be the case after a while, and that is why a change in your work environment is necessary.
During your breaks, try to socialize by spending time with your family or grabbing coffee with your friends. Also, try to do outdoor activities like exercising, jogging, or walking to freshen your mind and change your mood. It would be best if you made a change to your routine to avoid depression or isolation, maybe even change your workspace entirely for a few days and work from a café or a co-working space and meet new people.
10- Dress Up for Work
We can all agree that working in your pajamas is comfortable, perhaps too comfortable, and this is not the best way to start your workday. Similar to working from bed, working in your pajamas is associated with sleep and relaxation, so it’ll lessen your productivity and lower your energy levels.
You don’t need to dress up into a suit or anything stiff, just casual attire that is comfortable but won’t limit your flexibility and will be presentable in video meetings because maintaining a professional image is essential.
And Finally, Enjoy Your WFH Experience!
By following this working from home checklist, you’re going to overcome any challenges you face during this experience easily. Working from home offers flexibility, comfort, and independence – when done right, it’ll be the best thing ever.