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Working From Home Tips From Someone With Years of Experience

Working From Home Tips From Someone With Years Of Experience

With the current state of the world — thanks COVID-19, social distancing and travel bans — a lot of people are now suddenly having to do their office jobs from home. It’s weird to see videos of school teachers teaching, lawyers consulting and yoga instructors instructing all via video call. For me, this has been the norm since leaving my job in traditional publishing. It’s been seven years since I made the transition from an office space to working from home, and as impressive as it seems, it was tough to do. It’s taken a lot of trial and error, but I think I’ve pretty much nailed it.

To help everyone adjust to their new reality of working from home, I thought I’d share a few tips. These are things that have and have not worked for me. Depending on your job requirements, some of my advice might not work for you. But take what you can out of this and adapt to make your transition to working from home easy.

work from home

Have Set Working Hours

It took me a few years to figure this one out, but allocate set working hours for yourself. Some of you might need to be online during a specific time, but for those who have more flexibility, I’d highly recommend having strict working hours. I have a lot of flexibility with my work, so I attempt to be behind my laptop between 10 am and 6 pm. I’ve found working later than 6 pm hinders with my mind switching off and getting a good night’s rest.

This means, not checking work emails just before bed or first thing in the morning. I know it’s tempting (I’m still guilty of this), but it helps create a healthy work/life balance. It also forms a boundary for between yourself and your boss, colleges and clients and lets them know you aren’t ‘always available’. I once had a client who would email me at 11 pm and expected an immediate reply. This was because I had previously replied to a few of his emails before I went to bed.

Create A Daily To-Do List

Working from home means no boss is lurking over your shoulder, and no manager to remind you to do tasks, it’s all on you! Productivity is vital when working from home, so it’s essential to keep yourself accountable. Within the first few months of working remotely, to-do lists became my best friend. The first thing I do on a Monday morning is sit down, look at the tasks I need to complete for the week and start allocating tasks to specific days of the week depending on their importance.

Here’s what my current to-do list looks like:

Client A – Add new content to Buffer
Client B – Add new content to Buffer
Client C – Add new content to Buffer/FB
Client D – Add content to SM Content Calendar
Client E – 2x HARO pitches 

Client F – Write AdWords Copy
Client G – Write copy for Shopify store x 5 hours

Client D – Upload SM Content To FB/Instagram
Client F – Write copy for XX page

Client D – Write a blog post

Client D – Write a blog post
Client F – Send weekly invoice

If I’m unable to complete a task on a specific day, it falls to the next day, making the next day more full and often stressful. So I really try to complete all tasks allocated to specific days on that day. I also keep some time aside on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for any additional, once-off tasks that might come in. Additionally, I do not take on urgent or same-day turnaround work on a Monday because it is my busiest day.

Create A Dedicated Workspace or At-Home Office

If you can create yourself a dedicated workspace — a space where you can leave your laptop, notebook, and anything else to do with work. It may be your dining room table, kitchen nook, or a corner of any room in your home. This space should have a dedicated desk and chair so that if your kids, partner or roommates see you in that specific space they know its work time and you should be left alone.

Better yet, if you have a spare room in your home, turn it into an office. It took me five years to figure out that there’s nothing like having a home office with a door that can close. As a writer connecting and disconnecting with my work is often directly related to the space I’m in so having a dedicated room — yes its a major luxury — has been incredible. I love being able to close the door and not think about my client work.

Do Not Work From Your Bed/Bedroom

Speaking about workspaces, do not work from your bed or bedroom. I know it’s nice to work from bed, but there are two reasons I personally try to avoid it (unless I’m sick or having a moment in my life). The first is my back can not deal with working from bed. At first, it was all fun and games working from bed, but I’ve had severe back and shoulder issues that have popped up in the last few years.

The second reason — and this goes for working in my bedroom in general — is that I can’t seem to switch off at night. I’ve worked from my bedroom for years and always found it so difficult to fall asleep. My brain was still in work mode in that space by the time I wanted to sleep. Now that I’ve moved into my home office, my bedroom is a completely calm space, a sanctuary for sleeping. It’s the best!

Take A Lunch Break

Your lunch break is still yours, whether you’re working from home or not. It’s an hour during the workday that is entirely yours, so do your (online) shopping or take a nap (the benefits of being home). It is easy to skip this essential time of the day, but be sure to schedule it into your day.

I often skipped lunch when I first started working from home. I simply grab something to eat and have it behind my desk because it was easy. But I quickly realised that I needed that hour in the middle of the day to focus on nothing else but myself. Now, I make myself lunch and enjoy it while watching something mindless — just to give my brain a break. My afternoon productivity has improved since doing this.

Take That Sick Day

Something I learnt the hard way is that working when you sick does not end well. Your body and mind need to rest when you’re sick. Even though you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you can work through being sick.

Overall, I’ve really found it great being able to work from home. It’s made me so much more productive. It does, however, take a lot of discipline. Yes, I’ve felt lonely at times and found myself talking to my neighbour’s cat, but, the benefits are endless. For me, during the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing has changed dramatically. But for a lot of my friends and family, the adjustment has been tough.

I hope my advice on working from home can help a few of you truly get into your workflow. Keep safe everyone and don’t forget we’re all in this together (and to wash your hands).

A Year Of Facing My Fears: Quitting My Job, Becoming A Digital Nomad & Scuba Diving

A Year Of Facing My Fears: Quitting My Job, Becoming A Digital Nomad & Scuba Diving

Whether it’s handing in your resignation letter, bungy jumping off Bloukrans Bridge or public speaking, facing your fears can hold you back from some of the most amazing experiences. My dad always tells me to face my fears and do it anyway, and during 2014, I did just that in a very big way.

Quitting My Job

In 2012 I started what I thought was my dream job. After the initial awesomeness of it all faded away, the late nights at the office turned into missed holidays, and even being sick on deadline was not an option. As time went on I became very unhappy in the stressful, unpleasant environment that was my job, and I started thinking about travelling and becoming a digital nomad. But I feared the lack of security that my monthly paycheque and employment benefits provided me with. This fear left me miserable at my desk for another six months.

At the end of 2013 that all changed, and I was forced to look my fear straight in the face when the branch of the company I worked for closed. Even though I had the option of staying with the bigger company, I knew I needed to do the bravest thing I’ve ever done and leave to become my own boss. I was so scared when I walked into the office that day and had to tell everyone my plan. It felt like my entire world was turned upside down, but I was happy, relieved, and saw so much opportunity ahead.

For more on how I successfully made it through this transition, read ‘My 6 Step Game Plan After Quitting My 9 to 5 Job‘.

Becoming A Digital Nomad

After a few months of trying to find my freelancing feet, I knew that what I was doing from home could be done from anywhere in the world. On paper the idea of being a digital nomad seemed amazing, but on the inside I was freaking out. Having spent no more than a month away from home, knowing I often get homesick, and leaving my support system behind was extremely scary. What I was planning  wasn’t a short two week vacation, this was going to be a six month adventure.


Once I faced the fears that were playing over and over in my mind, I was able to rationalise my plan and move forward. Here are some of my digital nomadic fears and how I overcame them:

  • Loosing clients and running out of money – No matter where I am in the world I always have the risk of loosing clients, and running out of money.
  • Having to rediscover my work comfort zone in new country – As a digital nomad my focus and work comfort zone needs to be flexible. Having never been a digital nomad before, I surprisingly thrived in my new environments.
  • Not being able to speak the native language  – I grew up in South Africa, which has 11 official languages, and when I come across someone that speaks a language that I don’t understand, I always figure it out, so why can’t I do the same abroad.

Even though I got onto that plane with all my fears still weighing me down, I learnt that like leaving my job, I needed to face my fears head on to get what I wanted.

Scuba Diving

Not being the strongest swimmer, having a real fear of everything underwater (especially sharks), and getting panic attacks from seeing deep, open ocean, I surprised myself  while on Koh Samui in Thailand, and ended up facing one of my biggest fears – scuba diving.

I have to admit that the staff at Discovery Dive Centre in Koh Samui acknowledged my fears and put my mind at ease by giving me the option of going into the pool, trying the equipment, and then deciding if I was comfortable enough to carry on and go into the ocean. During the pool training, I really struggled (especially having to take my mask off underwater and sit there for a minute) and just wasn’t getting it which only made me more fearful. Our instructor, Nicola, had so much faith in me and truly pushed me to what she thought I was capable of. Before I knew it, my training was over, and even though I’d downgraded my certification from Open Water to Scuba Diver, I was comfortable enough to head out to sea the next day.

Heading to the boat the day after training my fears escalated to a point that when Nicola asked how I was feeling, I started crying – full on ugly cry. My fears were becoming all too real, but both Sean and Nicola calmed me down and reassured me that everything was going to be ok. I needed to remind myself that I did the training and I knew what I was doing.


My moment had arrived. Nicola gave me the thumbs up and I headed from the beach into the ocean – and before I knew it Nicola signalled that we were 12 metres underwater. I was scuba diving by myself, in the open ocean that I feared so much, and was surprisingly calm and at ease. The serenity of being with my thoughts, experiencing a new underwater world, and using my acquired skills gave me so much confidence on my first dive. By the time we surfaced, my adrenaline was pumping and I realised that I had faced my fears – and couldn’t wait for my second dive. I’d gone from crying to confidence in less than a few hours and today, I can’t wait to go diving again.

My mind was blown by the stunning coral and sea life of Koh Tao. To see more of our diving experience watch our video.

In January 2014 my ‘dream job’ ended, and my dream life began. It took me facing my fears to get me where I am today – a self employed, scuba diving digital nomad chasing my own dreams. If these things didn’t  bring out this amount of fear in me, I wouldn’t be as proud of where I am today!

If you found this post interesting, please share it with someone that may need help overcoming their fears.

My 6 Step Game Plan After Quitting My 9 to 5 Job

My 6 Step Game Plan After Quitting My 9 to 5 Job

“Choice not chance determines your destiny.” — Aristotle

After leaving the comfort of a monthly paycheque, health insurance and overall perceived security, I found myself at home owning my own time. I had a few business ideas, some cushion cash and no real idea how I was going to make the same amount of money I did working for someone else. To be honest, the first three months of my new digital nomad adventure was a real struggle. Even though it was a refreshing start, I had to find my feet and define my worth as a professional writer and editor. I quickly realised that I needed a game plan. Using the following six step game plan, I stayed focused and kept striving for my ideal income and lifestyle.

1. Don’t Panic

For the first three months after quitting my job I had to constantly remind myself not to panic. The fear of the unknown left me feeling on edge and even, in my doubtful hours, applying for other 9-5 jobs. With a few pep talks from Sean I reminded myself to focus and see this new lifestyle as an opportunity. Rather than falling back into my old ways and letting my panicked state take over, I stayed calm and used that nervous energy to push my own brand harder.

2. Find A Mentor

No matter what you’re doing, I believe that having a mentor is very important. Someone to guide you, help you not make rookie errors and just reinsure you that you are doing the right thing or redirect you when you’re not. For me, that person was Sean. Not only is he my best friend, but he lived in my city, had been living a digital nomad life for eight years and was my biggest supporter. He was just a phone call away, answered all my questions honestly and pushed me to follow my dreams instead of building someone else’s.

3. Aquire The Right Tools

While working my 9 to 5 job I used all the company’s equipment. After leaving I no longer had access to these tools. I had a really old secondhand laptop that did nothing more than slow down my productivity. As soon as I quit, I dug into my cushion cash and got myself the right tools including a new laptop which changed how I worked. Having the reliable tools not only makes it easier to get the task done, but frees up your time and makes working more enjoyable too. Check out our Mobile Office Setup to see what we use to work remotely and efficiently.

4. Freelance

Before I left my office job I knew I was going to freelance to keep myself going. I already had few paying clients and with my 9 to 5 job coming to end I spent about 30 minutes a day just looking for new work and liaising with potential clients. By the time I left my job I was so used to freelancing that the workload was easy to adapt to. The best part about freelancing is that you can start before leaving your 9 to 5 job security, you have the option of working remotely, and can make some money while building your own brand.

5. Schedule Your Life

Make time to keep your clients happy, build your brand and to just relax. I quickly fell into the trap of working on my clients’ projects all the time! I was back in that 9 to 5 situation selling my time for a couple of bucks. A change needed to be made and I needed a schedule. I decided to do my client work on Saturday, Sunday and Monday for three to five hours a day, work on my brand for at least two hours a day  and take some time to hang out with my friends and family.

6. Build Your Brand

I still struggle with dedicating time to growing my own business, instead of spending all my time working on client projects. I constantly need to remind myself that it is important to build my brand and develop my business.

Are you thinking of quitting your 9 to 5 job to pursue a digital nomad lifestyle or have you already left your office job? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter what your strategy has been and what you are struggling with.

5 Ways I’ve Benefited From Joining The DC – A Community of Smart Online Entrepreneurs

5 Ways I’ve Benefited From Joining The DC – A Community of Smart Online Entrepreneurs

One of the sure ways to find inspiration, support and growth in both personal and business development is by surrounding ourselves with a group of likeminded, successful individuals.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” ― Jim Rohn

In 2014 I decided to surround myself with people who would help grow my business development by joining the Dynamite Circle (DC). Not only has it given me access to a community of likeminded people, but it has also been nothing short of life changing.

What is The Dynamite Circle?

The Dynamite Circle is a private community for entrepreneurs – most members are location independent. From monthly meet ups/networking events and private forums to an annual conference held in Bangkok called DCBKK, the community encourages you to connect with likeminded entrepreneurs to help you move forward with your business.

To learn more watch the videos below and visit

Here are some of the benefits I have received after joining the DC

Joining a premium private community like the DC is only the start. The amount of value you can get from a community like this depends on how much you are willing to invest by getting involved. Here are some of the benefits I have received from getting involved with the DC.

1. Breaking The Isolation

As a self-employed online entrepreneur it’s easy to just stay home and work in isolation. For six years I worked from home or from coffee shops by myself, focusing on my own brands and my clients projects. This left me feeling lonely and disconnected. Joining the DC gave me access to a thriving community of likeminded entrepreneurs from all over the world that I can now reach out to and connect with.

2. Attending DC Juntos

The DC encourages its members to host and attend monthly meet ups called Juntos in whichever city they are in.

Definition: The Junto was a club for mutual improvement established in 1727 by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. Also known as the Leather Apron Club, its purpose was to debate questions of morals, politics, and natural philosophy, and to exchange knowledge of business affairs. –
Together with Paul Kortman from Nomad Together, I co-hosted the first Junto in Cape Town. Even though it was small I got to meet Dan Tržil and Jeff Pecaro from Nurtur Letters. Since then I have also attended Juntos in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, where I have met more DC members, made new friends and enjoyed many interesting and useful conversations.

3. Attending the DCBKK Conference

In October 2014 I attended my first DCBKK conference in Bangkok which was my first major conference experience. The four day event included keynote presentations, networking events and parties. The organisers did a great job of creating an environment that was comfortable yet professional, and assembled a panel of speakers that were extremely informative and valuable. I also opted to join the Mastermind session, which ran over an entire day. The group I was allocated to was made up of some well known and highly successful members that provided me with some great feedback regarding my current business situation.

4. Reading & Interacting in the Online Forum

As a private online membership site, the DC also offers its members access to an exclusive forum that is packed full of valuable questions, answers and advice. It’s a very active forum with many members regularly posting new content. Whatever your question might be, it’s very likely that it has already been discussed in the forum. You can also post a new topic or question and ask for feedback.

5. Meeting Individual Members

Over the past few months I’ve also taken advantage of reaching out to individual DC members to set up one-on-one in person meetings or online calls. I’ve made some great new connections and friends that I can reach out to if I need help or advice. And I’m also here to offer them the same.

Are you part of a community that helps you with your personal and/or business goals. If you have any questions or if you would like to learn more about how you can join the DC, please leave a comment below or tweet us @FreemadicLife.