For the past two years, I have been working from my home office as a freelance copywriter and project manager. Working from home was something I grew to love but it can be tricky if you are not used to it. It requires discipline, focus and lots of motivation so I have put together a short list of my tips to help you successfully work from home.
Time blocking is a great skill to master to ensure that you achieve all your daily goals and tasks. If you use an online calendar such as Google Calendar or iCal divide your day into blocks of time and it will alert you when it is time to move on to the next time on your list.
Begin by making a list of all the tasks you have to do and write the time you need to complete them next to it. EG: Emails 30mins, Check Slack 10mins, Blog Post Writing 1hr, Social Media Scheduling 45mins etc… Once you have a list, dedicate a colour to each category of tasks – this will help you visually identify them when they are listed on your calendar.
Add them into your daily schedule, being sure to add in time for your mealtimes and your downtime. If you have a Yoga class on Monday evenings from 7-9 then make sure that is added. Any repeating task big or small should be listed on the calendar.
If you work with multiple clients, another way to design your time blocking is creating blocks in your calendar per client. This ensures that no clients will get overlooked in your busy day.
Easier said than done, right?! One technique I was taught at the beginning of my WFH journey was the ‘Pomodoro’ method. This involves making a list of tasks that you need to complete then setting the ‘Pomodoro’ timer that gives you 25mins to complete your task before giving you a 5 min break. You can use the break to check your emails, team messages or to make a cup of tea before either returning to the task for another 25mins or moving onto the next task on your list. The more you practice this method the quicker and more productive you become at completing your tasks.
Also, another key factor of staying focussed is to remove any distractions from your work environment. If you have other members of your household at home during your work day, make sure you are in a separate room from them if possible. If you have children optimise your time so that you can focus on your hardest tasks or client calls during their nap times. If your children are older then work with them to devise a system that allows them to know when you are able to be interrupted or not.
Dress for the Job you Want
This may sound like a silly tip but it’s so easy to fall into the trap of reaching for your yoga pants and an old t-shirt before shuffling down the hallway to your desk. While it is so important to be comfortable when you work, physiologically if you put some effort into your appearance you are mentally preparing yourself for the task in hand. It sounds crazy but it really works. The days when I am hitting the snooze button and totally not feeling like the ‘girlboss’ I want to be are the days that I make extra effort to dress better. Putting on some red lipstick, a pair of high heels or some sparkly bangles are quick, simple tricks to boost your mood and productivity. Comfort is key but it is so important to mentally separate your work time from your home time. Trust me, relaxing at the end of the day is so much more rewarding if you change from your work clothes to your loungewear.
Take Regular Breaks
This is crucial. No one should be sitting at their desk all day without taking short, regular breaks. It makes you SO much more productive and also keeps you focussed. Treat your breaks as small rewards. This keeps you moving through your tasks and also allows you to stretch your legs, stay hydrated, socialise and get some fresh air. Breaks shouldn’t be long, anywhere from 5-15mins is optimal but make sure you do take them.
Of course, everyone’s home situation is different and these tips may not apply to all, but I hope that they provide an interesting insight into my daily work habits. Make sure you have a comfortable, quiet work set up and lots of healthy snacks to power you through the day. Working from home can be a very positive and enjoyable experience, the trick is just to make it work for you.