Words by Katia Iervasi.
Working from home sounds like a dream. You can wake up whenever you want, roll out of bed, and plop yourself on the couch – no traffic, no sweaty train rides, and no makeup necessary. I’ve been WFH for years, and it’s the best… BUT you need to be disciplined. After a lot of trial and error, these are my top tips!
GET SHIT DONE
Establish a morning routine.
You have to let your mind wake up before starting work. Eat brekkie while watching Sunrise, walk the dog, or go to the gym.
Sure, there are some days where I stay in my pj’s. But showering and getting dressed signals to the brain that it’s time to work. You don’t need to doll up, but put on clean, comfy clothes and moisturise. You’ll feel much better about yourself.
Set up an inspiring workspace.
It doesn’t need to be a dedicated office – but you do need to claim a separate space for work. For your sanity and productivity. Invest in a desk, chair, shelves, stationery and anything else that would make your life easier, and then add personality with plants or a mood board. If you live in a small, dark space, look into libraries, co-working spaces, and local cafes.
Avoid working from your bed.
Beds are for sleeping and sex. Research says that when we repeatedly use something for a purpose, our brains associate that thing with that purpose. So, if you work from bed, you may find it harder to fall asleep OR get sleepy while you’re working.
Be clear about your working hours.
When you work from home, it’s easy to let work take over 24/7. To prevent that, you need to have some semblance of a ‘working day.’ The #1 perk of WFH is that you don’t have to stick to a schedule that someone else made for you. You can decide. Maybe you do 7am-4pm, or 10am-7pm.
Tip: Negotiate a work from home sitch here.
Then, tell people!
Let your mum know that no, she can’t come over whenever she wants. Tell your boyfriend that you can’t go to IKEA at 2pm on Tuesday because “you’re home.” Put your working hours on your email signature or voicemail, and snooze your Slack after a certain time.
Make the most of the flexibility.
If you want to sign up for an 11am Pilates class, go for it! If you want to cool off with a swim on a sticky summer’s day, do it. Just be sure to tack on an extra hour to your workday.
Break up your day into manageable chunks.
Most of us can focus – and I mean really focus – on a task for 90-120 minutes. After that, we need a break to recharge, so we can do our best work for the next task. To successfully WFH, you need to manage your time like a pro. Figure out your focus limits, and split up your day to suit. If you need to run errands, do them in your breaks.
Write a game plan.
Offices thrive on structure. When you WFH, you need to keep yourself accountable. In my Google cal, I block out time for the tasks I want to accomplish, along with any events/phone calls so I know exactly what my day looks like.
Wear noise-cancelling headphones.
They drown out outside noise (like sirens and the baby next door) so you can get into the zone and lose yourself in Drizzy. If you take calls all day, they also help you to come across more professionally to clients.
Does music distract you? Try listening to white noise. Bonus: It improves memory!
Flexibility is a fab #werkperk, but you can end up working longer hours because you’re constantly stopping to run an errand, cook dinner, clean the house etc. If you’re the kind of person who likes rules, make your own! Include the things you’re not allowed to do during your working hours, like a chat with your sis on the phone.
Get rid of online distractions.
Emails and social media are huuuuge time-suckers. If you really want to get shit done, set boundaries. Here’s what I do:
- Use Freedom to block the internet for X amount of time.
- Check emails three times a day.
- Disable email notifications on my phone.
- Put my phone on airplane mode when I’m on a major deadline.
- Scan social media on breaks. We’ve all been down the black hole… One minute you’re watching Beyoncé’s new video, and 3 hours later you’re applying Halloween makeup.
Use tech-savvy tools.
There are apps that can make WFH a whole lot better. Think: Slack for communicating with colleagues, Trello for project management, Zoom for video conferences, and Expensify for tracking work expenses.
Leave the house!
Cabin fever is legit. It’s not healthy to be alone all day, every day, so make a conscious effort to get out of the house. You might grab a coffee with colleagues or clients, work at a café for the afternoon, or pick up lunch. *Side note: There will be days when the only person you speak to is your barista, and that’s ok!
Take care of yourself.
Stand up and stretch, eat proper meals, drink water, and get some sunshine. Oh, and try not to fill your fridge with junk food. The temptation to snack like no-one’s watching is real. 😉
If all else fails…
Remind yourself why you left the office in the first place!