So you’re working from home. This may be a big adjustment for you, or it may be that the excitement of not having to get up and go in to work is starting to wear thin. FEAR NOT! There’s a bunch of us who have been working remotely or from home for a while now and we’ve collated some top tips from some of our favourites!
Know where/when you work best
I work better in the night. I try to do something cool in the day, and then crack on with work through the evening. It’s better to do 3 hours of good, high quality work when you’re in the right headspace, than to try and force 9 hours of half assed work.
And then I have a separate space for working. We’re lucky enough to have a spare room that’s our home office, but whatever you can do to separate when it’s work time from when it’s chill time is going to make a difference.
Oh, and I always make sure the house is tidy before I start working, because mess is the easiest distraction. Before you know it, you’ve spent 6 hours cleaning..!
Don’t worry; be app-y.
My number one tip would be to use the ‘Fabulous’ app, which I live by. It’s essentially a planner that’s formed by habits, which if you follow – you can’t lose! Give it a try.
Manage the uncertainty
COVID-19 has dumped a crap-ton of uncertainty onto all of us right now which is why we might be feeling more anxious or fearful than usual. Our brains don’t cope with uncertainty very well so we need to tip the balance back to certainty. Plan regular ‘certainty breaks’ into your day where you complete a concrete task with clear outcomes. For example, a load of laundry, baking, cleaning, responding to 5 work emails, organising your bookshelf into colour order. And the next time you’re feeling anxious, complete a certainty task to bring back some calm and control.
Dress for success… Still!
Honestly, I think the biggest thing for me is getting dressed like I’m about to go to a fancy meeting. Obviously, it’s great that you can stay in your PJ’s all day, but putting on clothes (and especially smart ones) helps subconsciously get me into the mindset to actually do stuff. If I’m in my pyjamas, I’m much more tempted to just stick on the telly and play video games.
Set the Mood
Every two hours I’ll have a 15 minute break. I bargain with myself that if I work solidly and effectively for 1 hr and 45 mins then I’ve earned a little break. I’ll get up and have a drink, tidy up my work space, pop outside for some fresh air for 5 mins, to give my eyes a break from looking at the screen, or play guitar / read a book/ close my eyes and have a little break. Just a total relax, away from the work desk.
I also make different playlists for different shifts/ different points in the day. So if I’m on a 6am start I’ll kick it off with chill music to ease me into the day, then have lively, upbeat music for the middle of the shifts when I’m flagging. If I work late I’ll play a camping video on YouTube (check them out- have a search) to feel like I’m seeing or hearing the outdoors at least and get myself ready to switch off after my shift.
For those tough morning shifts or if, the night before, I really can’t be bothered; knowing I have to get up and work the next day, I’ll put my best coffee out, along with my coffee grinder and favourite mug, ready to go. Sometimes I just need that little treat to motivate me to get out of bed and ease the start of the early days.
The biggest one for me was separating business from pleasure. Being a photographer/videographer and also a big gamer… my work AND play were both sat at the same desk.
I think this rings true for any home workers though, in any field! Set yourself business hours and make a space for work. If you’ve got an office space perfect, if not even just a desk or corner that is solely dedicated to work so that your mind set when your in that space is to get stuff done!
Taking breaks is another biggy. Getting outside for a half hour for a walk and some fresh air, Its very easy to get distracted and lose focus. Time for yourself between business hours makes a huge difference to my productivity. I know some people who work in 15 minute bursts!
Also PUT THE PHONE DOWN AND GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA. Unless what your doing uses these services leave the phone in another room or switch it off!
Have it your way
- Understand how you work best – what time of the day are you more alert and productive? Does background music work for you? (It’s not for everyone and that’s ok). Take time to figure it out – over a few days note down your energy levels and see if there’s a pattern and then start shaping your working hours around how you work best.
- Listen to your body and don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t getting things done how you ‘think you should’ – especially as a creative, sometimes we have creative blocks and when you feel like you’re in one of these fugs it’s best to step away and do something positive for yourself. Take a break, read a book, socialise (virtually for now…), get some fresh air, play a game, listen to a podcast…you get the gist!
- Get a routine in place, a dedicated work space and a good chair (or even try out a standing desk ) – keeping to a working hour schedule and having a space to work with comfortable furniture will make all the difference to your physical and mental health (and your relationship if you are home with your loved ones). We didn’t when we started working from our flat years ago and it felt like we didn’t have a break – it was hard to get headspace in a room that we associated with work and not having set hours or making a conscious effort to ‘switch off’ at certain times really had an effect on us (and not a good one). The odd occasion working on the sofa won’t hurt but try to keep to a routine and create a work space even if its in the corner of the living room (not everyone has multiple rooms to turn into home offices).
- It goes without saying you should take regular breaks, keep moving and don’t forget to hydrate – it’s easy to slip into drinking loads of caffeine, not enough water and staying glued to your tech – not only will you feel dehydrated (with all the side effects of that too) but you may feel more on edge and we know our brains need water to function properly.
- So in summary – understand yourself, shape your routine, create a dedicated and comfortable workspace, hydrate and keep moving and most of all be kind to yourself – if working from home is new to you don’t expect to nail it first time.