This month marks my 4th anniversary of being a freelance marketing consultant. I usually forget all about this but with so many people working from home I was reminded I am doing this 4 years now. And I am sure even post-pandemic we will have more flexibility with working from our own apartments and houses. So I sat myself down and thinking about what I learned so far. Here are my 10 things to do when working from home:
1. Get dressed
I personally believe this is my number one tip. Get yourself dressed. It is fun to work in yoga pants. But the mindset must be the right one. For me that is wearing pants. When that happens I know I am there to get sh** done and not to surf the net for the next craft project or recipe to try. I am there to make money.
Granted you might have stronger will power than I do and working in yoga pants gets you all hyped up. However I say give it a try and see if there is a difference in your work ethic and the finished work. Will be curious to hear about your experience.
2. Never eat at desk
Another rule I am implementing rather strictly here is n e v e r eat at your desk. I will not have breakfast at the desk while typing away. I won’t have lunch while reading a white paper, there will be no late night dinner sessions at the desk. If I am hungry I sit at the dinning table or if I don’t have time I’ll eat right out of the fridge (we could discuss that behavior…) but I never eat at the desk. Every once in a while I allow myself a few nuts or a chocolate to snack on but that is about it. I am however allowing drinks – lots of coffee, tea and water.
Working from home is blurring lines. So again set boundaries. Have a sort of routine. Figure out what works. For you the eating thing might not be an issue maybe for you it is never do laundry.
3. Walk during calls
Working from home usually limits the radius of movement considerably. So come up with ways to move.
Pre-pandemic I walked around the apartment many kilometers when on phone calls. Now with my video calls it is a bit trickier I admit. But maybe if it is a bigger group call and you can turn of the camera stand up, move your arms in circles, do some burpees. What ever you feel comfortable with.
And after a year of pandemic video calls I am actually mindfully re-introducing phone calls if I have the chance.
Have a lunch break. It might just be to go to the kitchen and grab a sandwich but get away from the screen for a bit. I often make a sandwich or stop by a local bakery to pick one up, have a to-go coffee and go for a walk on my lunch break.
Fresh air, movement and resting your eyes can be wonders in pushing your creativity levels.
Sometimes I sit on the balcony eating or reading an hour.
5. Office Hours
It is tempting to start checking mails right when you wake up in bed. It is easy to drop a quick email when you remember something to get it out of your brain. It is also good if you are working with your own biorhythm no matter if at 4am or around 11pm.
However I would recommend to get some sort of office hours though. I am taking my time in the morning and I have never schedule meetings/calls before 11 am if I can help it. I won’t pick up my phone before 9 am to answer calls. Most likely 10 am. And I will not answer any emails between 8pm and 9am. Set yourself some boundaries. Have emails sent when your office opens even though you typed them in the middle of the night. (If you have any idea how to set that up in Apple mails I am all ears.) I have seen some freelancers even mentioning those office hours on the website.
6. Know a time managing technique
If I am having a tough time getting big tasks done or if I am feeling procrastination sneaking up on me I often use the pomodoro technique to work through those phases. Having a fall back time management technique can give some structure if you are feeling overwhelmed or just very unmotivated.
For me the best option is the break-up of tasks in small time frames with a 5 minute break in-between. In those five minutes I can fold some laundry, get a coffee, check social media or just look at the sky. It feels like I am productive but can also do all the things I want to procrastinate. By the end of the day often times the entire to-do list has a check.
7. New home office view
Sometimes it is helpful to move yourself to another space if being stuck. When you are in a more conventional work place you probably move around the office a lot. Going to the printer, getting a coffee, chatting with a colleague. All those things don’t really happen in a home-office hence your brain doesn’t get as many stimuli.
I myself have discovered that it does help to move around. If you have a laptop it is easier to do. Sometimes I switch sitting on the other side of the table, sometimes I move outdoors, sometimes I go to the dining table for a certain task. On very rare occasions I sit on the couch – mainly to do brainstormings.
If I really need to get my act together I sometimes go to a local restaurant aka co-working space. Seeing people around me getting stuff done is a big motivation. With current lock downs this one is tricky. But here is to hoping for a better future.
8. Coffee date
As mentioned before in an office you most likely meet people while walking the corridors or at the coffee machine. Those interactions are fun, helpful and take you mind of current tasks and problems. They can be inspiring in way you don’t know beforehand.
I try to schedule a 15 min coffee call every once in a while. I wished I do that more often but I do not have too many people to do this with. However it is a good way to exchange thoughts and still be in a sort of work environment. For me though it doesn’t quite work to make personal phone calls like my aunt I haven’t talked in forever. This often pulls me out of the productive work flow.
9. Stay on top of admin work
Yes this means mainly taxes. Even though they might be due only quarterly or annually I do them monthly. My brain doesn’t have to remember too long what I need to put in. It is done and the end of year taxes are not taking up weeks to finalize. It also gives a better overview on what is going on in your business.
Now if you are not self employed this might be a moo point. But there is still admin work. Take care of updating your devices regularly. There is no office admin coming by fixing your stuff. Maybe you need to log tasks to certain project. Maybe you need to hand in receipts for purchases. Do it as soon as possible – it will safe a lot of trouble.
10. End of day ritual
A lot of people have some issue with wrapping up the day. It is helpful to have a routine to end the day. Again in an regular office job you most likely bring your coffee cup to the dish washer, turn down the computer, check if windows are closed, lock your door and leave.
Find something similar to do. I usually try to write my to-do list for the next day. This way I am not tempted to head quickly to the desk to write something down that just popped up in my mind. I also bring my cup to the kitchen. I lock out of work related software like MS teams, Slack, Trello or the office suite. It helps to not quickly fall back to checking something.
Those are my 10 things to do when working from home. Did I miss anything? Do you have a tip I should try? I’d love to hear it.
Happy working from home
Those are some good tips. I do try to take a lunch break where I actually step away from work, but I am not good at not eating at my desk.
Stepping away is a good start. And in the end it is all an individual thing. Maybe other things are more important to your mental health.
These are really great tips! I’ve worked from home for a decade now & still found some helpful nuggets in here – and a lot of these things are things I already do, confirming that there are indeed some work-from-home best practices. I actually just recently rearranged my desk for a different view/vibe, & I shoullllld implement the no-eating-at-the-desk rule…
It’s always interesting to hear how other people handle the work from home thing. And sometimes one thing works for a while and then not at all. Will you continue a work from home situation in your new role?