Six easy tips on how to work from home and stay on task!
6 TIPS ON HOW TO WORK FROM HOME
I don’t actually want to think about how long it has been since I started working from home. A few years, to say the least. And prior to that, I was working from home and in an office at another job. It’s safe to say I’ve had time to work out what works and what doesn’t. As we head into the final months of the year, I wanted to share five tips on how to work from home successfully.
TIP 1: CREATE A GOOD SPACE
Essential to making working from home work for you is creating a good space that feels just right. It might be an office room, where you can close the door and block out sounds and distractions. For some, it might be a corner of the kitchen bench or dining table. You might look for the best natural light spot to keep you from feeling sleepy. Essentially, creating the right space will come down to each individual home and your specific needs. Make sure the area is clean, clutter-free, not laden with junk or things you will ‘eventually get around to dealing with’. Have a glass of water on hand to stay hydrated. Oh, and it goes without saying, working from your bed or the couch, or in front of the tv is not a sustainable way to work from home and be productive.
MY IRL EXAMPLE:
To give an example of how I have created a good space, I’ll break down my set up. Until recently, we used our second bedroom as an office. It had a small window, didn’t get much natural light or warmth and provided enough space for my partner and I to set up our own desks each facing opposite one another against a wall. For the large part, it worked. However, we realised we were turning on the heating to warm up and constantly feeling lethargic in the dim lighting. On the flip side, our living space was bright with lots of big windows. In that room, we had the tv and our couch (which took up a lot of the space). If we ever wanted to use the tv during the day the glare was horrible and the noises loud.
So we flipped the rooms around. Now our office space is in the living area, it’s light, warmer and the tv/ couch works better in a small darker room where you can close the door. A bonus is that the couch can turn into a single bed if someone wants to stay over. In the past, we didn’t have the best set up to accommodate guests. Eventually, we will sell one desk as I work from a laptop and we have space now to add a dining table. I’d be just as happy using a dining table to do my work.
TIP 2: MAKE A SCHEDULE
If you have a routine, with a regular schedule, it is much easier to stay focused. Plan when to start work, prioritise important emails first as well as the more challenging tasks. Set breaks- making sure you stand up from your desk at least once an hour. Even quick ten minute breaks to go for a short walk or do a bit of housework makes a difference. But stick to the short break window or you might get too distracted! Make sure you also have a finishing time, or it can be hard to separate your work from your regular life.
THIS ONE I HAVE TO WORK ON:
Sticking to a schedule is one of the harder ones for me. Since we both work from home, but Mario also works night shifts now and again, our schedules can really change. At times, we eat breakfast late, workout in the middle of the day and get work done in between. One thing that works much better is to try and create a schedule and stick to it. I prefer to wake up earlier, make a cup of warm water with lemon, do a ten-minute meditation, check for any important emails and quickly look over social media stuff. If I am up early, a workout is so good to start the day with too. I always feel pumped for the day! I’ve also been guilty of not remembering to stand up from my desk or finish working by a set time. So, it’s something I need to keep working on. Though, sometimes I write between 10 pm and midnight and feel pretty accomplished.
TIP 3: GET OUT AND SEE OTHER PEOPLE
There is one way to drive yourself crazy and that is to stay in the same few rooms alone day in and day out. Trust me! Making time to get out and meet people for coffee, a walk, or just to swap ideas around makes a huge difference. You really never know how much value you are going to get out of a catch-up, nor how much you can bring to someone else’s day. Talking to other people, or working on a project with someone else can spark all sorts of creative thinking.
EMBRACE THE WALK AND TALK
Man, I put off catch-ups like nobody else! Then I always kick myself for it. I get so much out of being around other people, sharing what’s been going on, relaying what I’m doing, etc. And somehow, the walk and talk works wonders. I love to go to one of our local parks for a walk. It gets me out of a seat, I get to smile at cute dogs, be in the fresh air and so on. Bonus tip, if you don’t have your own dog, offer to regularly walk a friend or neighbours dog while they are at work. They will love you for it!
TIP 4: PLAYLISTS ARE KEY (AND FUN!)
Music makes the world go around. And a good playlist is key to getting through a long day at home. I have several kinds that I’ve made, depending on the mood of the day- or what I’m working on. If I need to focus, classical or foreign language songs are key to not distracting me. If you are just trying to keep the mood high and overcome a 3 pm slump, a fun nostalgic playlist is perfect. Then there are the party-mood Friday playlists, thoughtful podcasts, new-music to keep things fresh and so on. Mix it up, so the day feels less monotonous.
TIP 5: DON’T KNOCK THE OLD TO-DO LIST
Ah, my old friend. The to-do list. I am a to-do list person through and through. Truth is, I make them daily, for everything. It is my way of remembering all the things I need to achieve and I give the tasks a day or time they need to be completed by. If I am in doubt, I refer back to my notes and hopefully don’t miss something vital. Have a notebook and pen on hand and go back to your list regularly. Without a to-do list, it’s all too easy to fall into a trap of getting distracted.
TIP 6: INVEST IN TECH AND STORAGE
Probably a no brainer, but having the right tools to get your job done in the best possible way makes a huge difference. So too does updating that tech if needed and investing in digital storage. Back up your work and update your programs regularly. It’s better to stay on top of those things than find yourself stuck at the worst possible time. And for some reason, things always seem to fail right at the time you need them to work most!
HOW I FOUND THE MICROSOFT SURFACE PRO (AND I’M A MAC GIRL)
For the large part, I am a Mac girl. However, I’ve been using the Microsoft Surface Pro (5th Generation) and I haven’t hated it at all. In fact, it’s a damn good computer. I love that it’s super thin, light, fast and can be used with the keypad or as a tablet. We have a Surface Pen to draw onto it too, which is probably the biggest drawcard. It’s the laptop we travel with, being so convenient. Also, worth mentioning, I love that we can use our Adobe products on it too, which is a big part of our work. Mario and I are big Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Bridge users. We essentially use them all between us every day! Needless to say, we would be lost without them!
BONUS TIP: GET DRESSED!
I have found that it works best for me to make myself get dressed, out of my pyjamas, make my bed, do my skincare routine (though I don’t usually wear makeup at home), and even put on shoes. It somehow allows me to stay on task. If I am dressed, I can comfortably answer the door for deliveries without feeling like I’m in pyjamas like a sick person in the middle of the day. Wearing shoes encourages me to not sit cross-legged on my chair, which in turn somehow makes me focus better at my desk.
DO YOU WORK FROM HOME?
If you work from home, I’d love to hear any tips you have that I haven’t covered. Please let me know in the comments below! Do you think you could stay focused? Got any good playlists on Spotify for me?! We are always keen to find new ones. If you want any more tips on how to organise your day for success, check out this blog post here.
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY: MARIO RECCHIA
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