To sustain working from home successfully, you need to do more than pull up a chair at the kitchen table and hope for the best. Successful homeworking depends on the habits and routines you create, the mindset you adopt, the work environment you set up, and how you take care of your physical and mental wellbeing. This is why a high level of self-awareness when you work from home is fundamental to long-term success.
Knowing and understanding yourself helps inform the decisions you make about your day, your work style, timings, environment, and can even play a part in how you communicate and make progress in your work or business.
Success starts with knowing yourself
Self-awareness when you work from home is particularly important because we are masters of our own time. We generally have more autonomy over our goals, schedules, and career progression, so we need to understand our needs, triggers, and how we operate to perform well.
If we want to be more productive, communicate better, become more effective, and even be happier – a high level of self-awareness often underpins the routines and habits we need to develop.
The deeper you know yourself, the more fine-tuned and tailored you can make your day. We also tend to become more aware of other people and their needs, which is really important if you are leading remote teams or are part of a larger remote workforce.
So what kinds of things do we need to know?
A little self-enquiry helps you explore things such as:
- When are you most energised?
- What excites and motivates you?
- What causes you stress?
- How do you like to learn?
- What work environment engages you?
- When are you likely to procrastinate?
- What is important to you?
Answering these questions suddenly gives you information that can help you design a day that can increase your productivity and performance.
Self-discipline and self-awareness when you work from home
Among the big advantages of homeworking are the increased freedom and flexibility. The ability to structure your own day allows you to take advantage of when you are most productive, when you need breaks, and what types of tasks you do best at what time. This level of self-awareness when you work from home means you can work more effectively while avoiding overwork and possible burnout.
But with nobody else monitoring your moves, and dictating your entire schedule, along with self-awareness, is a need for self-discipline.
This includes the discipline to get going and stay focused as well as the discipline to switch off and finish for the day. It is why understanding what things you are likely to procrastinate on, and what things easily distract you can help you time block certain tasks and set up a work area which limits possible distractions. This might be as simple as closing tabs on your browser window or leaving your phone outside the room for certain periods.
Setting boundaries around when to switch off also requires a degree of self-discipline and awareness. You need to recognise the warning signs that you’re starting to feel exhausted or stressed. Taking a moment to pause and tune into your body can be really helpful.
Leadership and self-awareness when you work from home
Leadership development consultants and co-authors of Unleash Your Leader, Emmanuel Gobillot and Katherine Thomas talked of how to lead yourself when you work from home in our article, Follow Your Lead in volume 2 of The Homeworker magazine.
While we may be working alone, we still need to be effective leaders of others, and even ourselves. As well as understanding our needs and preferences, we need to reflect on our progress and performance.
Thomas suggests questioning how you can be better at what you do and regularly assessing if you are heading in the right direction. You’re most likely to find these answers by seeking feedback. But Gobillot admits, “It’s really hard to find people who are genuinely going to hold a mirror to you.”
It becomes even more challenging when you work remotely because you don’t have the instant proximity of colleagues close by. This also highlights why you need to develop an awareness of who you’re spending time with and the relationships you are nurturing. Gobillot also suggests finding that trusted circle of advisors or coworkers who can provide honest feedback and accountability.
Self-awareness and self-development
How can you improve if you don’t know what needs improving?
Developing a better self-awareness is going to help you recognise your strengths and weaknesses. The next step is admitting where you need support and finding the help.
It might be in the form of outsourcing for your own business. It might be that you need to speak with your boss about part of your job; perhaps you would benefit from extra training or taking a course. And when you have a deep understanding of how you like to learn and process information, it will help you decide on things such as whether you enrol on a distance learning course, or if you need face to face time. You might be somebody who enjoys short, quick modules, or a more in-depth study over several months. Knowing your personality type can also have some bearing on this.
Equally, when you have a better understanding of your strengths, you can make sure you’re working in a way to maximise those. Are you focusing on your ‘zone of genius’ or wasting time struggling on something you could delegate?
Understanding your cycle
Hormones. This one is more for the women but is useful for those who don’t have a monthly cycle to be aware of as well. We discussed self-awareness in the Work From Home Club on Clubhouse recently. One of the topics that came up and generated a lot of discussion was around periods and the menopause.
We actually featured some brilliant insights from GPs, VHK Education, in the printed homeworking guide, and it is a topic that is currently getting a lot of attention – and rightly so.
For women, the monthly cycle can play havoc with emotions, physical and mental wellness, and certainly productivity. Having a good self-awareness of how you cope week by week and what tasks you might be more suited to at certain times is really useful.
If you’re feeling more withdrawn, and are at the start of your cycle, it might be a good time for quieter tasks, planning, and dedicating more time to self-care. Later in the month, you might feel more confident and want to use this time to be more active on social media, schedule presentations or take a lead in meetings.
Designing your space
Self-awareness when you work from home also helps you create a workspace that really serves you. It is often overlooked as an unnecessary luxury but can have a big impact on how productive and happy you are.
Take time to figure out what you like to have around you, things that inspire you, that make you feel comfortable and motivated. Are there certain colours that evoke positive emotions? Is there a piece of artwork that inspires you, or a quote that fires you up?
There are homeworkers who find certain books in their line of sight help get them in the right frame of mind. Lawyer, Susha Chandrasekhar, described this in her brilliant piece in the print edition. You might be someone who wants a tranquil work environment or you might be somebody who is energised by bold, vibrant colours.
We did a fascinating interview with mindset coach, Becky Stanton on using the principle of feng shui in the workspace. This could be something to consider if you know how you like to feel in your work area and want to experiment with placement and position. Read the article in the print issue: Volume 2 of The Homeworker magazine.
For an in-depth look at topics relating to your mindset, workspace, productivity, and wellbeing, check out our latest print issue of The Homeworker: the complete guide to working from home.