The Better Call Paul Blog
10 Tips for a Successful Work-at-Home Transition
W. Paul Alexander
Whether you have been forced into a work-at-home situation due to the current coronavirus pandemic or you are just beginning to step out on your own, it's clear to see that, at some point in the very near future, you are going to need to set some boundaries between your workspace and your homespace, and that can be very difficult to do.
Having been in the teleworking community for over a decade, we have already gone through the twists and turns and grinding down and lifting up that comes with blazing the trail in any given industry; while at the same time, making it much easier to help out those who are now beginning to work from home.
Don't make the same mistakes we did. By following as many of these recommendations as possible, you will have a great work-at-home experience.
If you are going to work from home, one of the first hurdles you will encounter is discipline. If you're used to working around the hustle and bustle of a busy office environment, the familiar home stimuli suddenly thrown in your face can be overwhelming, and can sometimes mean the difference between failure and success.
Buying a room divider is an affordable, easy-to-setup, ultra-effective solution for the attention hyperactivity that will occur when you begin your work at home adventure.
On one side of the divider, you christen as your workplace. You tell others in your home to act as though it does not exist. It is off limits to them, and your work stays behind the divider at all times. This creates structure while keeping your attention on the job at hand by keeping you isolated from the TVs and refrigerators calling your name.
2. Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Okay, I know you're not stupid, it's just an expression.
So, here, the focus is on the simplicity of your setup. In the picture above, you see that an all-in-one PC has been chosen to really maximize the usability of every inch of the small workspace. I think this is an amazing idea, and if you are going to go with an All-In-One, I will always first suggest that you buy an iMac, which are priced to move with all of the influx of work-at-home job. So, if you can go buy a new iMac with all the bells and whistles, you can do that and save yourself a bundle by ORDERING FROM HERE.
But even if you only have the budget for a slimline PC, you can still get up and going with a nice, organized approach to your workstation setup.
Here are some affordable PC options that will do the job just fine:
1. CYBERPOWER Pro Gaming PC - If your work-at-home venture is going to include a large amount of video processing, such as constantly using videoconferencing or livestreaming your channel on YouTube and Twitch, then this awesome pro gaming PC from CYBERPOWER is an excellent choice. Not only is it affordable, but it includes a 9th Gen I5 CPU with a ton of RAM and storage. It's much less that you'd expect to pay for this quality of gaming PC.
2. HP ELITEDESK 800 G1 SFF Slim Business Desktop Computer - This Business-class PC is an excellent choice for corporate-ready deployment in an at-home environment. With a capable I5 CPU at 3.50 GHz and plenty of storage and memory options, you won't believe the price until you see it for yourself. However, I will say that you will be pleasantly surprised at how affordable your work from home PC actually is.
When it comes to your work environment, those who are close in your personal life need to be made aware that it is off limits to them. This can be an awkward conversation, but usually I just like to tell my children, who are adults now, that it would not be polite or accepted if I were to go hang out with them at their office and constantly keep their attention away from their duties.
Sometimes, it can be easier just to get a pack of "Do Not Disturb" door hangers and let your family members know that if they see the sign, they are to leave you alone. They are super cheap and they make a very awkward conversation much easier.
Exercise can be hard to come by in a regular office setting alone, and in a home office setting, lack of exercise can contribute to obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, and a number of other health issues. Plus, the more you exercise, the more oxygen flows to your brain, allowing you to be much more attentive and productive with your duties at work.
I personally love an under-desk peddler machine. These are the little contraption that look like a set of bicycle pedals without the rest of the bike. This machine is placed under your desk, and operates according to the parameters you set on the digital display. You will burn calories, stay focused, productive, and even more energized than normal.
For me, this is a must-have product. I wouldn't make it without my peddler.
5. Take your Eyes Away from your Screen Regularly
Staring at a computer screen all day can be terribly taxing on your eyes, which can lead to a drop in productivity. Every 15 minutes, you need to look away from your screen, and focus in and out on something that is at a longer distance than your screen.
Doing this at least every 15 minutes will keep your eyes and your brain in shape and can even keep your eyes from suffering damage done by excessive screen time.
If you do this simply task, your eyes will be sure to thank you down the road.
If you work from home, you need a physical day planner, period. There is no other way that you can keep you life and work schedules and demands separate from one another, while doing everything you can to maximize the available time. By purchasing the planner above, called THE SELF JOURNAL, you can take advantage of scientifically-proven tools to help you boost productivity and keep down time to a bare minimum.
Phone planner apps are getting better an better as technology improves, but no matter what seems to come in its place, nothing have ever beaten the hard-copy advantage that comes with physically writing an appointment, quote, reminder, or suggestion. Phone apps just can't compete with a good, solid day planner,
You will not only learn to keep your work life scheduled and organized, but you will also develop strategies that allow you to make the most of your time, no matter what situation you are in. This planner is worth every cent, and then some. It comes undated, to allow you to deploy it at the time you feel ready. Additionally, it comes with proven tool that help you to crush procrastination and limit administrative tasks. You won't go wrong here. We just can't say enough about THE SELF JOURNAL.
One of the hottest new functional items to hit the home office in the last few years has been the rising desktop. This allows you to convert from a sitting position, like you would see in a traditional workplace, to a standing position. At first glace, we thought, "why would I want to by something that MAKES me stand up?"
Then, the answer sinks in...
A standing desk helps you to stay active, as you burn more calories in a standing position than you do when you are standing. By keeping you active, it helps you keep the pounds off, which is a HUGE deal when working from home. When you work in the same environment you live, you can catch yourself going to the fridge over and over. Standing up consistently will help to stop those actions as well.
This particular desk is ergonomically designed to help alleviate back problems that can occur from sitting in the same position too long, as well as shock on your tailbone and lower vertebral spaces.
In the end, you will undoubtedly find that, once you switch to a standing desk, you will never go back.
Make sure that you don't get so caught up on the idea of "work" that you leave your workspace a solid, meaningless wall without a single bit of flair or uniqueness that makes the space individually yours. If you keep your workspace clinical, you may get more done to begin with, but you will eventually hate the uninspiring monotony.
Hanging some art that reflects your style is an easy way to personalize and customize your space. Motivational art and stylized quotation are always great ways to keep your mindset positive and your eye on the prize. THIS COOL SIGN quickly draws your attention to mindfulness about your own actions and reactions, keeping you professional in all of your affairs.
Dressing your workspace up like this will give you a motivation to want to be in and dwell in your office space for the entire work day, leading to better production and less boredom and better discipline, as well. All from a simple sign, at that.
Nothing will make your new work-at-home lifestyle easier than making a simple, very affordable investment in your working capabilities. By including a single machine that handles copies, fax, printing, and scanning, you never have to tell a potential clients "sorry, I don't have a printer" again. You'll be able to completely eliminate your dependence on copy store services and the like, and the only thing you have to do is buy ink.
This printer is an excellent price and has amazing functions, making it my recommended pick for this category of home office equipment.
Now, you probably already have a Keurig or other pod-based coffee maker, or perhaps you don't. It doesn't matter. This is one place I am going to suggest that you just bite the bullet, splurge a little, and get yourself a nice, compact Keurig Mini for your home office space. This way, you can brew your own cup-by-cup coffee without making a trip to the kitchen each time you want a cup.
This simple little step will make your life so, so much easier. You'll never understand how you went without if before.
First and foremost,
REMEMBER: IT'S JUST A JOB!!!
When it seems like you just may not be able to take it any more -- perhaps you have been dealing with an irate customer or client on the phone or perhaps you just totally screwed up on a design. Whatever the case, you will always do better as a telecommuter if you always remember that it's only a job. There is no life-and-death involved. Make sure that you don't neglect your family by using your job as an excuse to stay in your home office. Make sure that you keep your work inside the office and keep your family outside of the office.
Now, you may not make all of the changes or get all of the cool things listed on this page to make your work-at-home venture a success; but I promise you -- if you follow some or all of the steps on this page, you will be a successful telecommuter by the time COVID gets back in its cage!