4 Easy Tips on Making Home-Based Work Even Better

Whether you’ve always been a work-from-home business owner or you started doing so in response to the pandemic, you know it’s a continuous learning curve.

Here are 4 easy to follow best practices that have come from the year-plus of working virtually.

More Focus, Less Procrastinating

It can be easier to procrastinate when you’re running your business from home, so learning to stay on task has proved challenging for many newly minted virtual workers.

“The office is more of a strong situation with expectations for many things such as dress codes, arrival and departure times [and] time spent on or off task,” says Timothy Pychyl, an associate psychology professor at Carleton University in Ontario, in a BBC article. “Weaker cues and lower accountability may make procrastination more likely at home.”

Resisting the urge to procrastinate tasks amid a multitude of distractions takes practice and often a mindset shift, Pychyl says.

Best practices for staying focused at home working include setting up boundaries – both physical and time-specific – and finding ways to limit interruptions.

If you do feel like procrastinating, Pychyl says, first identify a strategy that will keep you from getting up and moving on to something else, like counting to five or taking five deep breaths.

Then break the task into bite-sized, less frustrating bits to get you started, like opening a file or referencing an email. It’ll be easier to get down to work – without getting distracted and walking away, Pychyl advises in the BBC story by Meredith Turits.

Get the Tech You Need

Another big lesson from the past year: don’t try to cut corners on technology. Buy or upgrade if necessary but getting what you need is paramount to being able to run your business effectively from home.

“Upgrading my Wi-Fi early on made all the difference in reducing what seemed like a daily frustration with a lack of reliable internet connection throughout the workday, especially with a partner who’s also working from home,” says a blog by OpenView managing editor Kristin Hillery. “Can’t even measure the return on that extra $20/month.”

Do’s & Don’ts on Video Calls

Just about everyone who wasn’t used to working virtually before the pandemic have become up to speed on video meetings.

One early lesson: double-check that you’re muted during a group call.

And, “If you use filters, always test your video before joining a Zoom call—unless you really are a cat,” quipped a contributor to Hillery’s article on the blog for OpenView Venture Partners, an expansion stage venture capital firm.

Also, using headphones with a microphone helps on video calls especially if there’s a lot of background noise at home from others working or kids at virtual school (or really doing anything).

“And pay attention to where your microphone lands—if your microphone is rubbing against your shirt or a beard for the duration of the meeting, others on the call will be able to hear it,” writes New York-based editor Regina Borsellino in a post for The Muse.

Camera Cover

One thing Lynette Jackson, head of communications at Siemens Smart Infrastructure, picked up when she started working virtually: keep a camera cover handy for that moment you’re unprepared for a video call.

“Having a little tool to hide your camera can be a life or reputation saver,” she writes in a Thrive Global blog.

Jackson acknowledges she often starts her day in her pajamas (like so many home-based workers) and isn’t really an early morning person. “I had a ‘near miss’ to start a call with video where I really didn’t want to be seen. I was happy for my little camera cover!”

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