I’ve been working from home for five years now and I absolutely love it. You can have a cup of tea when you want, you can work when you want and you can take breaks when you want. With lots of you now having to work from home to help in the fight against Coronavirus, I thought it would be helpful for me to write up a few of my top tips on how to ace working from home. I’m self employed so my experience is likely to be a bit different to yours if you have a boss and set hours that you need to be logged in to work, however this blog should help anyone who is having or choosing to work from home. Here are my top tips to ace working from home…
Have a shower and get dressed
This might seem OBVIOUS but honestly when I first started working from home there were so many days where I just worked in my PJs all day. Getting showered and dressed like you would on a normal work day really puts you into the right headspace to work. Your home is usually where you feel most relaxed so it’s really important you take as many steps as you can to treat it like a normal day in the office so that work actually gets done. Being self employed I’m really self motivated but if I try to work in my comfies then more procrastination gets done than anything else.
DO NOT WORK FROM YOUR BED
Trust me, as someone who used to do this A LOT. Not only is this terrible for your back but also your bed is literally the place where you are your laziest and most comfortable. I’m a big believer that your bedroom should just be a place for relaxing in and not a space to work in (I’ve also banned the TV from our bedroom because it’s terrible for sleep). If you have the space in your home I’d really recommend dedicating a specific room just for working in, one of the rooms in our house has been converted into my office and the only thing I use that room for is to work in (and to watch the occasional YouTube video, no one is perfect after all!). If you don’t have an entire room you can dedicate to working in then I would recommend working at your dining table or purchasing a cheap desk or table and setting it up in the corner of a room. This way you know that when you are in that room or sat at that table, the only purpose is for work.
I haven’t quite mastered this art myself yet but I really recommend taking regular breaks throughout the day. I think this is especially important if you’re used to having co-workers that you chat to every now and then. The Pomodoro technique is a great one to follow if you need a bit of structure for this. You concentrate fully on a task for 25 minutes and then have a 5 minute break. You repeat this until you’ve done it four times and then you take a longer break of around 30 minutes. I’ve used this method quite a few times and I’m always amazed by how much I get done! It’s great for avoiding distractions which for me are my emails and Instagram, I can scroll Instagram in my 5 minute breaks if I choose to.
Have a set working hours
This doesn’t have to be the same every day, I generally get up at 8am and start work at 9am and finish at 5pm. (Also yup, I usually lie in until 8am every day, I’m self employed and I LOVE my bed). Some days though I get up really early which means I can finish work earlier, it doesn’t matter when you work (although if you have a boss they might feel differently about this), what matters is you work for a set amount of time each day and then you stop. This took me ages to get right, I used to be switched on all the time, replying to emails and messages as soon as they came in and checking Instagram constantly. I’m still not perfect with this but I’m a lot better than I used to be, I check my emails twice a day, in the morning and before I log off in the evening, and I aim to reply to every email within 24 hours, 48 hours at the absolute maximum. My replies are no longer instant but I genuinely don’t think anyone is expecting me to respond to an email at 10pm at night. It’s really important to step away from work and have down time and this can be really hard when where you work is also your home. If it means you have to switch your phone off and put it away in a drawer then do that! I do this every now and then and it works really well, I always think I’m going to wake up to tonnes of messages asking why I haven’t responded and I never do haha!
Have a to-do list
A to-do list doesn’t have to be super in-depth or lengthy but I’d recommend putting one together at the start of the week. I use this to plan a bit of structure into my week and to make sure I’m prepared for any shoots, weddings or meetings I’ve got for the week ahead. For you this might look like video calls or deadlines at the moment. It also means when I wake up every day I know exactly what needs to get done so I’m not procrastinating trying to figure out what I want to do every day. It’s also important that you make the to do list manageable. I need to take my own advice on this one because I have a tendency to make them way too long and always feel disappointed with how “little” I manage to get done. It’s worth working out roughly how long each task takes and how many working hours you have in a day, this way you will know how much you can really achieve each day.
Times are strange at the moment so I think we all need to be really nice to ourselves. At the moment the weather is glorious, if you are able to then I would highly recommend that you do some of your work outside in the garden (if you have access to one) or at the very least throw your windows wide open while you work. Have as many cups of tea as you want and snack when you fancy it, I’ve seen loads of people complaining about putting on a bit of weight during lockdown, honestly if eating a couple of biscuits is going to make you happy right now then please do it, and don’t feel guilty about it. Plan some yummy meals for when you finish work for the day. Use your work breaks to watch funny videos, read, scroll Instagram, video call your friends and family.
I hope this blog helps you all navigate this new working from home territory. I love working from home and I’m betting that after all this is over there are going to be lots of you working from home way more often than before!