Working at home has many wonderful benefits, but it also brings a unique set of challenges. In this post, I share my favorite tips on how to successfully transition to working at home.
How to Successfully Transition to Working at Home
Working at home is a goal for many parents, but sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control, it becomes a necessity.
How do you successfully transition to working at home whether it has been a lifelong dream or forced upon you due to outside circumstances?
First, take a deep breath. You can do this!
Will it be perfect or idyllic? Nope.
Will you have bad days and good days? Yep.
But you CAN do this!
And to help you transition successfully, I’m sharing a few of my favorite tips for working at home.
Let’s jump in!
How to Successfully Transition to Working at Home
By completing a few tasks before and during your work at home transition, you can make this adjustment easier on yourself and your family!
Talk with Your Family
First and foremost, sit down and have a conversation with your family about your new work at home situation.
Include your children in the conversation, as appropriate.
Here are a few topics to get the discussion started:
- Who will be with the kids when you’re working? Or how will you keep them entertained, if you’re the only caregiver available?
- What changes to your work schedule will you need to make?
- What daily schedule changes will your spouse and family need to make?
- How much quiet will you need while you’re working? And how can you and your family accommodate that? Think: extra computer or TV time, special toys only for when Mom is working, etc.
- Where will you work (see below)?
- How can you adjust deadlines and work responsibilities to accommodate working at home? Fewer but more productive meetings? Communicate with clients and customers regarding your changing circumstances and what you’re doing to maintain the highest level of service available?
- How can the kids support your new work at home position? Additional chores with greater responsibility?
- How can you balance work at home and life at home? When will you quit work each day? How will you transition from work to home when they’re in the same place?
- What tasks can you complete with the kids around? What tasks will you need complete focus for?
These questions are just a starting point, but try to talk through as many concerns and considerations as possible to get a positive start to your working from home experience!
Feel free to adjust this discussion as needed for your family: Have a short discussion with your partner and smaller children, then you can talk more details at a time when it’s just the two of you adults.
Include older children in this full discussion. They’ll learn valuable lessons on how a family plans, works, and comes together for common goals and you might even get a little extra help!
Set Up a Workspace
Sometimes working at the kitchen table is the only option for a work at home parent. But if you can carve out even a little space, you can create a productive office that will make working at home much easier.
Get creative to find a workspace at home!
Can you squeeze an office into an unused (or underused) space in your home? A closet? In a corner of a bedroom? Under the stairs? In the garage?
More ideas to get your creativity kick started: How to Stay Organized When You Don’t Have an Office.
A Workspace with a Door
If you have older kids at home, having a space with a door will be a lifesaver!
Having a door to close will do a few things for you:
- It will minimize distractions.
- After a little prep work and more than a few reminders, your closed office door will become a signal to your kids that you are not to be disturbed unless there’s an emergency. You may have to spell out exactly what an emergency is, because your kids idea of an emergency is probably completely different than a real emergency.
- Closing your office door will also become a signal to you that it’s time to get down to business.
A workspace with a door will definitely make your work from home transition easier!
How to Make a Door-less Office Work
If you absolutely can’t find a space for an office with a door, find available space where you can, then set it up with the essentials (see below). Even without a door, you can create an alternate system that will serve to minimize distractions, signal your brain that it’s time to work, and remind your kids that you’re not to be disturbed.
Here are a few options:
- A movable screen can often do the trick, especially when combined with the two tips below.
- Use headphones to cut out some of the household noise, and bonus, when your kids enter your line of sight with an urgent but unimportant, non-emergency question, you just tap your headphones to remind them you’re working.
- Hang a bold “Do Not Disturb” sign where your kids can see it. The bolder the better (grab a printable one in our Organizational Printables Vault!). The back of your chair might work if your desk faces away from the room.
- See the mobile office section below for additional ideas to support working without an office with a door!
It’s possible to create a productive office space without an actual office with a door. Talk with your kids and set some ground rules. You’ll have to remind them of the ground rules a lot, but if you stick with your ground rules, they’ll eventually sink in and you’ll have a much more successful work at home transition!
Create a Mobile Office
Having to move your “office” to and from the available space in your home each day can be challenging. But, if that’s the only option available to you, there are things you can do to maximize your efficiency and productivity.
One of the best ways to make the most of a lack of permanent office space is to create a mobile office, that you can move quickly and easily at the beginning and end of each workday.
To learn more about setting up a mobile office, check out these posts:
Collect & Organize Supplies
Once you’ve chatted with your family and carved out an office area, it’s time to get that workspace set up.
Gather the items you’ll need on a daily basis and establish a system to keep them organized.
A caddy for office supplies might be helpful. You’ll definitely want a paper filing system and/or a digital one. An inbox might be helpful, as well (learn more below).
Don’t go overboard here, especially if space is a premium in your home. Really focus on having the necessities within arms reach so that you can grab what you need while working each day and keep the extra clutter away!
Additional resources to support you with implementing this tip:
- My Favorite Clutter-Busting Tool for the Home Office
- 5 Easy Ways to Set Up a Home Office Inbox
- How to Use Labels to Organize Everything in Your Office (include lots of printable labels!)
- 25+ Favorite Desk Organizing Supplies
- 25 DIY Desk Organizers We’re Loving Right Now
Get Dressed Every Day
People always talk about working all day in their pajamas as one of the greatest things about working at home.
I completely disagree!
For me, staying in my pajamas or in my yoga clothes negatively impacts my productivity and focus.
I find I get more done in less time, focus with less effort, and have more time for my family if I get dressed each morning.
Getting dressed and ready for the day (even if I’m not leaving the house), is a signal to my brain and my body that it’s about time to sit down to work.
I highly recommend that you get dressed each morning to support a successful transition to working at home!
Establish a Supportive Morning Routine
Now might be a perfect time for you to establish or tweak your morning routine!
What must be done in the morning? And what are a couple of activities you’ve always wished you could add to your morning routine? Anything you can or want to remove?
Start right away with your new or improved morning routine for a positive start to the day!
Learn more about creating and establishing a morning routine:
Create a Daily Work Schedule or Adjust Your Current One
Your daily work schedule will definitely shift once you start working at home. There are more demands on your time at home, especially if you have kids.
Think about how you can tweak your workday schedule to better accommodate working from home but still ensure that you get your work done.
I’ve found these workday schedule ideas helpful:
- Work in shorter, more focused blocks.
- Use a timer to keep you on task.
- Take breaks and spend some quality time with your kids, then remind them that you’re going back to work and repeat the short, focused block.
- Get up a little earlier to have some work time before the kids get up.
- Stay up a little later to have some work time after the kids go to bed.
- Implement “parent/kid work time” (for younger kids): set up a kids’ desk and save special toys or activities for this time; it’s also helpful to save tasks that require less of your focus for this time block (learn more HERE).
- Implement “parent/kid work time” (for older kids): identify a few tasks your kids can do for you during this time, like filing, while you complete less focused tasks (learn more HERE).
Additional Resource: How to Build Strong and Lasting Business Routines.
Establish and Post Your Office Hours
Establish your work hours and post them for everyone to see!
By setting office hours and making them known to your family, you give your kids (and your spouse…honey, are you reading this?) an end to the madness. They know when you’ll be available to attend to their burning questions, pressing concerns, and requests!
Create or Maintain Daily Transition Rituals
One of the great things about working at home is there’s no commute.
One of the bad things about working from home is that there’s no commute.
There’s no transition time or space when you work at home. So, you have to be more intentional about transitioning from work life to home life and vice versa.
My morning routine is set up to help me transition to work time. I still complete household tasks throughout the day, but by getting dressed, making my bed, and reviewing my daily task list, my brain starts gearing up for work time.
I’ve found it helpful to create an end of the day routine and use this time to start disconnecting my mind from work and preparing to transition to home.
These are the tasks I complete at the end of the day:
- Check my calendar
- Create tomorrow’s task list
- Empty my office inbox
- Empty (or glance at) my email inbox
- Write a “tah-dah list”
- Clear my desk
Intentionally completing my end of the work day routine (even if I only have time to check my calendar and clear my desk) really helps me to unplug from work and shift to focusing on my home life and family.
This routine also helps the following workday start off positively!
- The Ultimate End of the Work Day Routine
- The #1 Habit You Need to Make Office Organization Successful
Avoid Isolation & Support Your Mental Health
Nothing saps your focus, motivation, and job enjoyment more than working at home and being isolated.
Schedule time for nurturing activities outside of your office and find ways to interact with family, friends, and colleagues (especially in these challenging times that require social distancing):
- Enjoy a virtual coffee chat or brainstorming session with a colleague
- Schedule phone calls with friends
- Go for a walk
- Enjoy lunch or a cup of tea outside
- Schedule screen-free times
- Set a reminder to get up from your desk and move or stretch at least once an hour (your back will thank you!)
- Make time for your favorite nurturing activities
Avoiding isolation and supporting your mental health are crucial components of a successful transition to working at home. Find time to nurture yourself and connect with others, even if it’s only a couple of 5-minute breaks during the day.
How to Successfully Transition to Working at Home
By following the tips in today’s post you can ensure that the work at home transition is successful for you and your family.
Identify one or two tips that really resonate with you and implement them, then if you feel up for more, come back and tackle another one or two.
A successful transition to working at home can take some time and lots of fine tuning, so be willing to try new things, adjust and tweak, and give yourself some grace.
Whether working at home is your dream or it has become a necessity due to circumstances out of your control, you CAN do this!
If you enjoyed today’s post, you might find these related posts helpful:
- How to Get Organized After a Busy Season
- 8 Tips for Staying Sane When You Work at Home
- How to Survive Summer Break (or Any Break( When You Work at Home)
- How to Have a Stress-Free Summer Working from Home
Do you have tips that helped you transition to working at home?
What questions or struggles are you having? Maybe I can help?!
Don’t forget to pin it, so you can refer back to these tips whenever you need!
Thanks for joining me today and good luck with your transition to working at home!
Join the Office Organization Challenge!
Each day for 7 days, we'll tackle one office trouble spot, get it decluttered and organized, and create processes to KEEP it that way!
Take back your work space, beat overwhelm, and make the most of your business building time!