Working from home, living the dream right? All working from bed, setting your own hours and eating lunch and exercising when it suits us. Well.. yes but the struggle to get motivated and be productive is REAL sometimes.
I’ve been working from home for the past five years, have dabbled in shared workspaces and café life and feel like I’m slowly coming up with some kind of formula to be more work and less This Morning.
I thought I’d share a few tips since more and more of us are working from home either full time (apparently it will be 50% of us before long): or at least a day or two a week.
Turn off distractions
I have to put my phone in another room whilst I’m working otherwise I check it every other second, it’s like a tick, I don’t even have anything I want to check but if its there, my hand automatically picks it up. Having it in the other room avoids that temptation and means I actually do some work.
I also turn off my doorbell so I’m not constantly jumping up and down to answer the door. I know there are some really good apps that can lock you out of Facebook or other social media if you are tempted to check them on your computer all the time. I don’t really struggle with that too much because mine is just a phone temptation but if you are a serial checker then have a look at Freedom to lock yourself out.
Win the morning, win the day
Ok. I'm not a full blown morning routine person, I've got two kids with varying schedules and frankly I'd rather get every second of sleep I can than get up and meditate. That being said, there are a couple things I try to do to make the morning calmer and when I do, the day definitely goes better. If you are into morning routines, we did a post on them here if you want to check it out.
I make it a priority to get my 10,000 steps in a day. It is all too easy to roll out of bed, make tea and think its essential to get to work straight away to make the most of the day. To counter morning brain fog I try to get out of the house first thing and walk.
Normally I try to multi task so I’ll walk my son to nursery instead of driving or walk to get something we need from the shop. I used to listen to a podcast but now I try to just be with my thoughts, I’m not good with meditating but I find this kind of a walking meditation and it gives me some mental clarity to start the day.
Ok, this has actually been a game changer for me. At the beginning of the day, I write a list of 6 - 7 things that I want to achieve that day (no more, otherwise it’s overwhelming, and depressing when it doesn’t get done). I then prioritise the list in order of importance and try to estimate how long each task will take. So for example, if I need to write a listing for a new product that day and it’s my number one priority, I’ll allocate 45 minutes to it to as I know that’s roughly how long it takes.
Then I get out my trusty time blocking cube (don’t use your phone, see point 1 above!) and set it for 45 minutes. I wont even look at anything else for that 45 minutes, just focussing entirely on that one task. This has been mind blowing for me, how effective just dedicating time to each task is in terms of productivity.
See other humans
If you are at home day after day by yourself it can get pretty boring. Do yourself a favour and make sure you plan to see other humans every day so you don’t send yourself mad. I mean in real life, social groups online are great and all but nothing beats having an actual conversation. Even if it’s with your local barista that’s great but go one better and have a couple of regular gym classes you go to where you speak to people. Or maybe a regular chat with your mum friends at the school gate or your book club. Sometimes I like to meet up with a friend to work together at a coffee shop or workspace.
Whatever it is, schedule it in and treat it like a priority appointment. It’s all too easy to think oh I’m just so busy today, I’ll skip my yoga/coffee with Karen, but before you know it, you’ve not seen anyone other than your husband/dog all week.
I’m not one for batch cooking on a Sunday and having my meals all pre packed and ready to go for the week (but you do you boo). But. I do have 3 lunches that I eat during the week that I always have the ingredients for. When If first started working from home, I used to panic at lunchtime because the fridge was bare and I couldn’t think of anything and it had me wishing there was a pret next door so I could grab something. Having a couple options to chose from but keeping it simple has worked for me. Obama used to have the exact same meals every day to save him having to make lots of decisions. Clearly, Im not at Obama level (yet) but the power of keeping it simple is obvious here.
That’s all I’ve got! I would love to hear any tips you have for working from home, I’m a work in progress and anything you’ve got that can help me I need it. Share share share!