As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to rise and countries are put on lockdown, a growing number of companies are implementing work-from-home policies. Although it might sound like paid leave, working from home is anything but a relaxing vacation. Productivity and focus can be a real challenge when you’re at home surrounded by various distractions (hello, Netflix!) and not to mention when your house life gets in the way of your work.
For the first few months of my freelance career, I struggled a lot with working from home because I put a very clear cut line between my work life and home life. However, after trying and implementing some systems in place, working from home started to come naturally to me.
That’s why I wanted to share with you today some of the methods that I have tried and tested over the years of my freelance career that could prove to be useful to you as well. I am well aware that every profession is different, but here are some key strategies that have helped me and professionals that I know to successfully work from home. Let’s go!
#1 Organise your work flow
The day before or before you start work in the morning.
Believe me when I say it’s very easy to blur the line between work life and home life when you’re working from home. That’s why it’s important to organise your work flow by setting a work schedule that includes your work priorities and tasks for the day, and if possible and/or applicable, for the week. When you’re able to start the day with the tasks you have to complete in mind, your work flow will be smoother and your actions will be more purposeful in trying to finish the tasks you have set out beforehand.
For this purpose, I love using my virtual organiser TRELLO.
If you want to see how I organise my day and time, click HERE.
#2 Set up a clear workstation
And it should never be in the bedroom!
I cannot stress this enough but never work from your bedroom, unless you live in a studio apartment or you have no other choice. The bedroom is a place where you sleep and have down time, and this space should be left at that. Each time when I’ve tried to work in my bedroom, I find myself ‘accidentally’ napping on my bed or playing dress-up since my wardrobe is in my bedroom.
Set up a workstation in a separate room. You should have a clear and organised desk, proper lighting, and a comfortable and ergonomic chair. The last one is extremely important especially if you suffer from back pain and stiffness like me. If you work for long hours on your desk, it makes a lot of sense to invest in creating a comfortable and ergonomic workstation.
If you’re curious about what an ergonomic workstation looks like, HERE is an article I find explains it clearly.
#3 Make an effort to dress up
I know, I know. Who am I trying to impress, right? Admittedly, I have been guilty of working from home all day in my pyjamas and dressing robes. However, if you want to create any sense of normalcy in your work routine, make the effort to dress as you would if you were going to work as usual.
Personally, I would say to just keep it polished but comfortable because wearing makeup and putting on heels all day at home does not sound appealing to me. My favourite work-from-home attire is a simple loose dress or a smart top with wide-legged cropped culottes, finished off with delicate gold accessories.
#4 Turn off all distractions
You know what I mean— Netflix, personal calls and messages, house calls and visits from friends. Limit all distractions that could detract you from your work flow and stick to the tasks at hand. Create a separate reminder to deal with them after work.
#5 But stay connected with your work team
More than ever it’s important to find effective ways to stay connected with your colleagues (if you have any). Ensuring that line of communication between your work team and yourself is vital to make sure that you’re always in the loop and this also helps to create a working environment within your own home.
Luckily in this day and age, there are numerous softwares, apps and platforms that help facilitate communication and make virtual meetings possible. Some of my favourite working tools are Skype, Dropbox, Google Hangouts, Google Drive, and Slack.
#6 Keep your 9-5 schedule, but also be flexible
As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s very easy to let your home life get in the way of your work life. But it’s equally easy to let your work life disrupt your home life. This is especially harmful for those who live with their family members or have children at home.
Stick to your 9-5 schedule whilst still allowing a little room for flexibility. Plan your work tasks for the day and take an extra hour or two if needed, but remember to end before the evening to catch up on your own personal life and spend time with your loved ones. After all, being home-bound is also a valuable opportunity to connect and reconnect with your loved ones.