With the government advising we all stay in as much as possible during the Corvid-19 isolation period, many of us have found ourselves now working in a new (but also not so new) environment which makes completing our daily tasks a bit more challenging than normal. I am of course talking about working from home, or as many now refer to it as 'remote-working'.
Some people love it (me being included), but others find that the distractions of your home comforts alongside the lack of people, communication and banter make working from home a really hard thing to do.
From working in an isolated space for quite some time now, I have been able to test and discover various ways to help me stay proactive and positive throughout the day (alongside not going completely stir-crazy in the process), and I think it would be great to share these handy tips with each of you.
Tip 1 - Get Up & Get Dressed
The attraction of waking up, rolling over to get your laptop out and begin working from the comforts of your bed may seem like utter bliss but this couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, we all love the infamous 'wear your pyjamas to work day' but I am pretty sure (and I really hope) that you put fresh PJ's on for that working day rather than turning up to the office in the exact same set that you slept in for the past few days.
The reason for this simple but easily forgotten start to your remote-working day is that it helps you feel like you have started your day, putting your mindset into a place of working rather than relaxing. I am not saying that you should wear a full 3 piece suit or apply a full face of makeup to work from your home office, but simply changing into a fresh set of clothing to help you get in the right mental state to start your working day.
Tip 2 - Create A Routine
In the office, we all thrive from routine and habits to help us progress through the day in the most effective and proactive way possible, and working from home should be no different. I am a huge fan of starting my day by pouring myself a hot cup of coffee and writing a list of the work that I want to complete and things I want to achieve for the day and week, then order these in priority in my note pad. This helps me visually see what I am going to do each day and allows me to focus on one task at a time without subconsciously thinking of the other tasks.
Sticking to a routine also helps me understand when I should be working and when I shouldn't, but I will come on to that a bit more later on.
Tip 3 - Give Yourself Frequent Breaks
Without the distractions of the workplace, it is really easy to get lost in your work and forget to come up for air once and a while, resulting in what I can only describe as a goldfish-brain (the exact moment when completing the simplest of tasks becomes completely impossible because your brain power has depleted to that of a goldfish) from overworking. When I previously worked in an office, I used to lap up the moments of obscurity with others, from getting up and air-guitaring to a great song (Warrant - Cherry Pie I am looking at you) to having an overly competitive game of table tennis to get me up and move about. The reason why these moments were so necessary is that they allowed my brain to switch off and recharge for a few minutes, resetting my brain to start working at full potential once again when I returned to my desk.
Without these positive interruptions around you in your home, try to find other ways to consistently get you up and away from your work to clear your mind throughout the day. Whether it is playing with pets, making a hot drink, or even calling a friend for a quick non-work related chat, your mind and brain will thank you for it in no time.
Tip 4 - Communicate As Much As Possible With Others
As a natural-born chatterbox, I would say that the lack of daily communication was up there as one of the hardest things that I experienced when beginning to work for myself. Gone were the days of overhearing conversation, collaborating with others and being around like-minded people - all things that made me feel good each day in the office. To get around this, I put together a few replacements for each of these which I would really suggest that you look into doing as frequently as possible throughout your days and/or weeks of remote-working.
Firstly, I began listening to podcasts alongside music throughout the day, allowing me to feel as if a conversation was around me. People love being around other people, and with us not being allowed out at the moment this one could really help fill the void of conversation.
Secondly, I set up and joined various online communication tools (Slack, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp etc...) with my clients, freelancers and friends to help me feel as if I can still easily communicate and collaborate with others. If the company you work for isn't already doing this, maybe suggest it to the person in charge as it is a real game-changer for moving projects along in an efficient and positive way with all involved collaborating together as a team.
Finally, I make at least 1 phone call a day to people I know within the digital marketing industry to just have a chat about ideas and theories. This is one thing I would do in person during my time working from an office each day, not only helping me increase my knowledge and keep my ideas alive but to also take advantage of human interaction to make me feel happy. During isolation, why not pick up the phone (or even video call) more often to your colleagues and have a chat about the work you have been doing alongside listening to the work that they have been working on.
Tip 5 - Finish Your Day & Switch Off
Whether you are working from your normal place of work or working remotely, you need to know when to switch off and stop for the day. I am sure that we have all been guilty of staying an extra 30 mins at the end of the day to get that final task completed, but when working from home, that extra 30 mins can quickly turn to an extra 2 hours as your environment won't change and your headspace won't think 'I should really get home now' as you're already there.
As touched upon in Tip 2, the end of your working day is one of the most important times of your day when working remotely as it allows you to stop thinking, fully recharge, and most importantly, enjoy your time doing non-work related activities.
From experience, this one is a tricky one to do as the mindset of 'just one more task' is easy to fall into, but if you take anything away from this article it is to remember to turn that computer screen off, mute your emails and silence your work phone at the right time each day, and go enjoy a bit of 'me' time every evening.
Let's quickly recap all the ways for you to stay proactive and positive during your time working from home:
1. Get up, get dressed, and begin your day the right way.
2. Create and stick to your new daily routine.
3. Frequently step away from your work with mini-breaks to prevent goldfish-brain.
4. Surround yourself with conversation and enjoy speaking with others.
5. Switch off at the end of the day and enjoy a bit of 'me' time.
I really do hope that these tips help each of you find working remotely, in isolation or from home easier, allowing you to stay proactive and positive during it, and if you have any tips of your own that you would like to share with me please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe, stay positive and stay classy.
Ciao for now,