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.
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).