2022 showed us that working from home can be awesome, but challenging. Learn how to be as productive as possible while working from home in 2023.
The pandemic has shown that not only is working from home possible, but it can also be kind of awesome. However, those of us who have worked from home for years now know that it comes with its own set of challenges that need to be addressed. It can take a lot of trial and error to find out what work at home setup works for you.
These guidelines will help you productive as you can be while working from home – and stop breaking your back in your makeshift dining/office area.
1. Maintain Regular Hours
One of the biggest difficulties that come from working from home is all the distractions you’re constantly surrounded by. From easy access to social media, to other people sharing your living space and asking for favors, there’s no shortage of things that can pull you away from work. And if you’re working full time as a real estate agent, you’re keenly aware that you cannot afford to lose productivity.
That’s why most of the suggestions we present in this article are all about establishing a clear separation between work and life. Not just physically, but also psychologically.
The first and most important way to make that work-life balance separation possible is to create a work schedule, and really stick to it.
Take a couple of hours, sit down, and plan what your typical week will look like. To make the planning process easier, start by examining your typical work day, and analyzing how you’re spending your time.
How do you start your day at the office? How many hours do you dedicate to prospecting each week? Do you have any regular training hours set aside?
By honestly analyzing your current work habits, you’ll identify any inefficiencies in your current schedule, and will also give you a starting point for your new work from home schedule. So for example, if you discover that you’re not spending enough time reaching out to your sphere of influence, or that some of your tasks could be handed off to an assistant, you can make adjustments.
Next, pencil in what your work hours will look like. Make sure you include what time you’re going to start working each day, when you’re going to stop, a couple of 15 min breaks, and your lunch break.
When you work from home, it’s more important than ever to be organized and disciplined.
2. Create A Morning Routine
If you’ve spent any amount of time listening to a productivity motivational speaker/influencer, there’s a very good chance that you’ve heard about the power of a morning routine.
A morning routine (or morning ritual), as the name suggests, is something that you do every single day before you get your day started. This routine helps you signal your mind that it’s time to shift into work mode.
This isn’t exactly a new idea. Many of these influencers are so convinced about the power of a morning routine, that they attribute their success to it.
What should your routine be? You could go for 20 minute jog. Some people do yoga or meditation. Perhaps you could manually grind your own coffee beans and brew them to perfection.
Whatever you choose, it should meet these requirements:
- Something you find enjoyable.
- Must be relaxing.
- It should help you transition from the grogginess of waking up to a mindset conducive to working.
By meeting these requirements, your routine will be something to look forward to, and a much more peaceful way than a loud alarm that it’s time to get to work.
3. Dress For Work
It’s extremely tempting to sit down to work in your pyjamas. And we have to admit, at one point or another, we’ve indulged in this luxury, especially when it was a novel possibility.
But once you’ve indulged in this pleasure once or twice, go back to dressing for work, even if you’re the only person in your home. Not just putting on shirt in case there’s a Zoom meeting – but fully dressed.
Dressing up for work helps you psychologically transition into a work mindset. It helps signal the end of being “at home”, and that you’re now “at work”. In addition, it ensures that if you have a Zoom meeting, you’re already dressed and look professional.
4. Set Ground Rules With People In Your Space
Chances are that if you work from home, you won’t have the home all to yourself from 9-5 each and every day. You may be sharing your home with family members or roommates.
So if you’re going to work exclusively from home, you need to speak with them about your new work situation, and set some ground rules as to how they can interact with you while you work.
It can be very easy for people sharing your home to wander into your working space, ask for favors, or simply distract you with the noise of life. Sometimes they may find themselves doing these distracting things without realizing it, and you may need to remind them again about your work situation.
It helps to have a specific room of the house set aside as an office space to do so. But if this option isn’t available, we have to take it a step further than we would in the office. When it gets too noisy, ear plugs and headphones can help to keep you centred. A “Do Not Disturb Sign” can also be useful while you’re in meetings or speaking with a client.
5. Update Your Workspace for Long Hours
When the pandemic initially forced people to work from home, many didn’t have a comfortable office space set up. Working from the kitchen table or living room is common, but not beneficial for our bodies in the long run.
At the very least, choose a space with natural light to help you get through the day and start off on the right note in the morning.
Invest in furniture and tech that will make it easy to work for long hours. An ergonomic chair and adjustable desk can make all the difference in comfort and productivity. You know what it’s like when an uncomfortable chair or desk forces you to get up and stretch every 30 minutes? That’s not conducive to enjoyable day. You’ll be spending several of your waking hours in this space, so don’t be afraid to splurge on whatever will make it most enjoyable for you.
6. Take Your Scheduled Breaks In Their Entirety
Office work already leads to an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. And working from home can lead to an even more sedentary lifestyle.
In addition, it’s very easy to overwork, especially if you have workaholic tendencies. This is why it’s essential that you schedule regular breaks into your day and you actually take them.
No matter how busy you are, make sure you don’t skip those breaks. Whatever little productivity gains you get from working through your breaks are quickly offset in productivity losses from burnout and fatigue.
7. Leave Home
After work is over, it’s very tempting to just stay at home, lay on the couch, and watch Netflix all afternoon. Your body needs to move, and the fresh air and natural light will do wonders for your mood and productivity.
Even if it’s only a coffee break or grocery run, it counts.
8. Keep A Dedicated Office Space
In a perfect world, not only would you already have a dedicated room in your home to be a home office, but you would also have two computers. One which is used exclusively for work, and another used for your own personal use.
But this arrangement isn’t always possible. Either because you don’t have a room to turn into a home office, or because you don’t have the budget for a work-exclusive computer at the moment.
If you’re not at that point yet, there’s still an alternative. Set up an area of your home, such as a desk in the living room, that once you sit down, it’s time to work.
Use that desk exclusively for work and nothing else. And once work is over, move away from that desk and do something else.
In addition, if you only have a single computer, you could create an additional work-only account. That way, you won’t combine your work files, internet searches or background programs.
9. Look For Opportunities To Socialize
Alongside a sedentary lifestyle, people that work from home have to contend with feelings of isolation, disconnectedness and loneliness. This is by no means a new problem that came about because of Covid. It has affected remote workers for years.
So when working from home, look for opportunities to socialize. Interact with coworkers by means of group chats on Slack, Zoom meetings, etc.
Don’t skip office meetings on Zoom. Force yourself to not just show up to, but also actively participate. And outside of work, make it a goal to actively reach out to friends and family members.
If it’s already safe to interact in real life, schedule days out with friends, and actively participate in hobbies where you interact with other people.
10. Take Sick Days
If you’re feeling sick, don’t avoid taking days off. It may be easy to see that time off as a waste of time, and thus a waste of money, and you would be tempted to power through your sickness and continue working.
But not only will your work performance be compromised if you work while you’re sick, but it will also take longer to recover. It’s often better to rest and recover now, so you can be 100% productive sooner. And this often translates into more money in the long run as well.
11. Ask for What You Need
If your brokerage doesn’t offer an office space, you may be entitled funds for necessary office equipment. It’s important to set the expectation that you will not hesitate to ask for what you need in order to do your job.
Your office essentials may include anything from a computer mouse to virus protection and back support, or even a second phone. Speak to your brokerage about what they are willing to cover for you.
12. Keep Lists Of Tasks You Want To Get Done Each Day
Organization and time management is absolutely essential in your success as a real estate agent in the best of times. But if you’re going to be working from home, organization is even more important.
Make sure you keep track of all the things that need to be done each day, and organize them according to their importance. Like we mentioned in a previous article, you can use a tool called the Eisenhower Matrix.
This tool divides tasks into 4 quadrants:
- Important and urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Not important nor urgent
Tasks that are urgent and important are things that you need to absolutely get done today, and can’t wait. These are the first tasks that you should tackle each day.
Tasks that are urgent but not important and tasks that should be delegated to someone else. This could be your personal assistant, a freelancer, etc.
Tasks that are important but not urgent are those that usually get neglected (such as prospecting), and should get a greater amount of attention from you.
Finally, there are those tasks that are neither urgent nor important. These are often things such as spending time in social media, sharing memes, or checking your shopping cart in Amazon. You should eliminate these tasks from your work schedule, and handled AFTER work.
13. Practice Focus
It’s easy to say “limit distractions”. The problem is that anything can become a distraction if you’re not able to hold your attention on single thing at a time. As real estate professionals, you juggled multiple roles throughout a single day. With so much to do without the physical support of your team, it’s easy to push the not-so-fun tasks to the bottom of the list.
Your first and most multi-dimensional tool is your CRM. A great CRM should not only keep client data organized, but notify you about follow-ups, new messages, status in lead funnels, and more. This is the program that does all the heavy lifting.
Additional time management tools or project management tools, may appeal to you based on your individual needs. There is a wealth of productivity tools online and available for download that will keep you and your tasks organized.
14. Use A Time Tracking App
There is no shortage of time tracking apps out there that you can use to track your progress. Some of them, such as TimeDoctor, tracks the amount of time you spend on each program, checks your keyboard and mouse activity to make sure you’re working, and regularly takes screenshots of your desktop.
Others, such as RescueTime, have similar features to TimeDoctor, with the additional option of blocking distracting websites as well.
These tools are absolutely essential to keep you on track and as productive as possible.
15. Force Yourself To Work Even If Ideas Don’t Seem To Be Flowing
There will be days in which you won’t have any “mental energy” and you feel like you have no will to work. That’s inevitable, and can happen regardless of your work environment.
When that inevitably happens to you when you work from home, fight against the temptation to call it a day early. Force yourself to work anyways, and rely on your Eisenhower Matrix of tasks that need to be done. On days like that, your organizational and task planning skills will save the day, and keep you from wasting a perfectly good day.
16. Use a VPN
Protect your computer with a VPN whenever you’re connected to a network that you are unfamiliar with. This means turning your VPN on whenever you’re working in a cafe, library, park, airport, and any other shared WIFI connection.
Your employer may have a preferred VPN they work with and can connect you to. There are other measures you can take to protect your computer and data when working with open networks, but a VPN is the first step.
17. End Your Day With An End Of Work Routine
Just as you would start your day on the right foot with a morning routine, implement an end-of-work routine.
Just like your morning routine, this could be just about anything. It could be signing off your business messaging app, taking your dog for a walk, closing your office door, etc.
Whatever your routine you choose, make it a pleasurable way to call it a day, and do it consistently to mark the end of your work and the beginning of your life.
Working from home is not going away. As a real estate agent, you’re already free from a physical office most of the time, and even less so now. But with the emergence of virtual tours becoming the norm rather than a luxury, you’re going to be spending even more time working from home. By following the suggestions outlined in this article, you too will be able to successfully work from home, and remain as productive as you can be.
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