Circumstances have meant that a great many of us have been forced into a “new normal” by coronavirus restrictions. But that’s not the only reason more and more of us are working from home – Forbes magazine claims that 50% of American millennials are freelancers. For a lot of us, the rooms we’re working in aren’t fit for purpose. Hands up who spends a proportion of their working day on their laptop on the sofa? On top of that, you’ve now got family members dipping in and out, taking up your time and attention. So what useful tips are there for working remotely? Here’s our top 5:
1. Stay in touch
You can very quickly become quite isolated when you’re working from home. So stay in touch with colleagues. You can do this in multiple ways – emails, Zooms, Slack chat or Microsoft Teams are all great. But for positive mental health, nothing beats reaching out with a good, old-fashioned telephone call. Staying in touch also means you’re up to date with projects and not wasting time on work that might’ve already been completed, or changed.
2. Manage your time
This is so important. Get up when you’d normally start your working day. Take regular breaks to make sure you don’t burn out. Use a time tracking app such as Timely; you can schedule tasks and track time spent on projects in real time, and it works with a calendar interface. Another great app is Forest. If you access your phone whilst your tree is growing, you kill it. You don’t want to kill a tree, do you?
3. Choose a dedicated workspace
A bit tricky in a one bedroom flat, but it’s important you find a space that can become your work zone. Try not to pick anywhere that’s associated with leisure time, like your sofa. Get up, boil the kettle then head off to the office. Not everyone has the good fortune to have a room they can use just for work, so get creative. Sitting on a desk near the front window? Perfect. Tucked up in bed? Probably not so much.
4. Work when you’re most productive
Not everyone springs out of bed at 6am with a sun salutation. Some are only motivated after two cups of coffee and a chocolate brioche at 10am. The reality is, whenever you start your day, your motivation will rise and fall. Work out your most productive times and do your hardest tasks in those times. Keep simpler stuff for when you know you’re likely to lose focus easily. It’s all about those “small acts of success”.
5. Use your laundry as a timer
This is my personal favourite. Doing the washing is the perfect timer for your to-do list. Stick a load on, and use the cycle time to work on your tasks. This is also a good way to stop yourself getting distracted by chores when working from home, because the chores become part of the timetable and help you measure your work against it.
Of course, the main thing about working from home is that you are actually working. Whether you’re freelance or not, you still have to answer to a boss or a client. There’s still a project to be completed. So make sure everyone at home knows that you’re working. It’s so easy not just to get distracted by the daily life of the home. And any family lurking around need to have it communicated clearly that despite the fact you’re sat in the living room, you’re still in work.
What are your top 5 tips for working from home?