These WFH tips allowed me to find peak productivity whilst maintaining an amazing work-life-balance.
This is actually a post I’ve had planned for months now, and yet all of a sudden it has become widely relevant during this bizarre time of social isolation and distancing.
In the UK we’ve just been officially told to stay away from offices, meaning that many of those who can are now joining the ‘WFH’ club… Welcome! This way of working is absolutely on the rise anyway though, so I’m going to write this post in such a way that it hopefully retains usefulness after all this blows over.
I worked from ‘home’/remotely during my time at The Remarkables Group in Melbourne. I’d never worked more efficiently or achieved so much… and my work-life-balance had never been better either. Below are my secrets to achieving this ideal outcome.
1. Get Dressed
Okay okay this sounds pretty common-sense… but you’d be surprised by how easy it is to just start working from bed in your PJs and actually find yourself at 4pm in the exact same situation, fundamentally questioning your adulthood and life choices.
Also, getting up, doing a workout/morning walk/swim/meditation and then putting on real clothes (not trackies or PJs or comfies), is a great routine to establish for getting into the work headspace.
2. Designate a Home Office
This doesn’t need to be a whole room – it could be your kitchen table, or a small corner desk, even the sofa if that provides enough of a motivational environment for you. So long as it’s not your bed, or even preferably your bedroom – this space NEEDS to be kept separate if you plan on having stress-free sleep.
Just establish a work-space, or even a token change to your environment which triggers work-zone in your mind. For me this was sometimes as simple as turning on the diffuser. Head to/setup this work-space first thing in the morning so you start the day in a productive zone.
3. Change Location with Each New Task
This was my best trick… changing my setting between each task meant that I approached each one with a refreshed mindset, not with the fatigue of the last task hanging over. Try it and you’ll get what I mean.
Admittedly this works better with an outdoor walk between each location – so under normal circumstances – change your location between home-office, cafe, library, etc.
Under current circumstances, after staring your day in your established ‘work space’, nip outside for a quick fresh air breather before moving to a different room; different table; different part of the floor (if you’re like me and love the old floor desk).
4. Set Your Hours
This one depends on your way of working. If you prefer to work in one solid chunk, then set your limits – working from 9am-5pm for example. When working from home (particularly as a freelancer paid by the hour), it is really easy to overwork without the forced finish of a closing office or encouragement of a cowering heading to after-work drinks. Control this in order to stay consistently productive.
If, like me, you sometimes work better with a more broken schedule, plan out a timeline of your day. Perhaps you have a gym session/run scheduled at 11am and coffee/FaceTime catchup booked at 3pm – note these in and appoint working hours around these. Create a schedule each day and stick to it.
Another key thing – just you would with a commute, really do try to get outside/make some journey (even just for a walk around the block, trip to the supermarket, etc) at least once or even twice a day. This is crucial to staying sane, trust me… cabin fever is no joke!
Alongside your daily scheduling, also write a to-do list in order to keep you on track and monitor your achievements. Yes a list can ensure you get the necessary things done, but it will also allow you to better acknowledge what you’ve managed to accomplish. Sometimes without the physically close scrutiny of colleagues and bosses to hold you accountable, it can be possible to get easily distracted. But it can also be easy to overlook the work you actually are powering through.
6. Reduce Biscuits, Stock Up on Tea
Working from home = snack, snack, snacking allllll day long… if you’re not careful. Why is that!? It’s not like there aren’t snacks available at offices… I reckon it’s because when at home we don’t have colleagues watching and potentially judging our every snack-venture.
Seriously though, just don’t have them in your house. No biscuits, no crisps, if you must have chocolate (lol yes I know you must, same here), keep it under lock and key. By all means stock up on hummus, fruit, granola bars.. Yawn yawn Townsville I know… but if that’s the only thing available, the desire to snack will simply drop.
Whenever your mind drifts to the aisles of deliciousness available at the corner shop nearby, pop the kettle on and make yourself a cuppa. It just won’t be as satisfying, but it might just stave off that temptation.
7. Create a Group Chat with Colleagues
This is only really relevant if you work as part of a team, i.e. not just on your own for yourself. But a group chat to talk send through quick fire questions, maintain office-style banter, or check-in on how people are doing, can help to bring a bit of the office atmosphere home.
At The Remarkables Group, we used Slack for this very reason… to hold each other accountable, but also to support each other, congratulate, answer questions and maintain a sense of camaraderie.
8. Ensure Social Interaction
Which brings me smoothly onto my last point… ensure you have some kind of social interaction everyday. Working from home/working remotely, can be hugely lonely and, as such, potentially really bad for your mental health – despite all the freedom it can allow you.
Try to ensure some social connection everyday. The above group chat can help with this, but also call/message friends and family not directly connected to work. Make more of an effort than most to get out and see people: dinners, movie-nights, coffee dates, etc.
In this current climate of social-isolation and distancing, get together with (healthy) people outdoors – go for a walk, soak up the fresh air and have a natter. If you can’t get outdoors, try to call someone at least every day. Your interest in Jane Villanueva does not count as social interaction – she is not your real friend, despite how invested you are in her love life. She’s actually not even a real person! (okay yes I am talking to past-me…). Get real social interaction every day. This is SO important.
So… if you’re new to this WFH world, then welcome and enjoy. Figure out how it works best for you, and hopefully my tried and tested tips will come in handy. It can be so incredibly fruitful and rewarding if you manage it right. Sending you all my best.