I’m imagining this sudden wave of people working from home during lockdown and self-isolation and I’m guessing that this is going to be new and unusual for a lot of you. So just in case it might help someone somewhere, I figured I’d throw out some of the working from home tips I’ve learned over the years.
Create your space
Dedicate a working space for yourself, even if it’s just a corner somewhere, and make it whatever your productivity needs it to be. Ordered and uncluttered? Or wild and chaotic? Only you can ask yourself what you need right now.
Put a little effort into it. This is the space you come to for work. And the space you leave when it’s done (even if that just means throwing a sarong over it at the end of the day).
Keep the good habits
Mentally take yourself through a normal working day in your usual working space and identify the habits that ignite you. Do you normally settle down with a cup of coffee before you start firing off those emails? Do you take a deep breath before you plunge into that blank page? Make lists before you tackle the day?
These are your triggers, and your brain has already been coaxed into responding to them, so keep them going.
Be your own manager (but a nice one)
Working from home gives you the freedom to find your own process. But don’t be fooled into this freedom … working from home also takes discipline. If you’re not, for example, used to unlimited access to social media, don’t give it to yourself now. Not even for a ‘quick look’.
Because a ‘quick look’ is exactly the same as just ‘one drink’ and you might only find yourself again hours later.
Give yourself mini breaks
A break in a working day at the office isn’t just ‘lunch’. Without knowing it, you’re taking loads of mini breaks all day. When you run downstairs to fetch something from reception, or walk down the hallway to the next meeting, or stop for a quick chat on your way to the bathroom. These are little mental escapes and they can actually be super productive for subconsciously coming up with ideas or solving problems.
So when you find your mind wondering, take a moment to get up and stretch, or dance to a song, or have a quick phone chat with a friend. Whatever you need.
Put your own lockdown on distractions
Yeah you’re at home, but now you’re also at work, and your working hours are not the time to be mowing the lawn or dusting the pot plants, no matter how much they’re waving at you for your attention.
Keep drawing your conscious mind to the work that’s paying your bills right now. Those household chores will still be there by the time weekend comes. Promise.
Be awesome colleagues
The people in your home space are now your colleagues … in the sense that whatever you do affects the other. And you have a responsibility to create a supportive space for each other. If some need music and others need quiet … headphones!
It takes respect and compromise, but there is always a balance to be found.
Have fun with it
Now’s the time to find a way of working that could be a whole new life for you in the future. Because maybe, finally, the world realises we don’t need all those meetings. We don’t need to be micro-managed. We don’t have to see the people to do the work.
We can be amazing and productive in our own creative spaces. So have fun finding your own process while you’re working from home.