For some reading this, you will know all about the highs and lows of working from home, for other, this will be a new brave world.
Working at home can be more challenging than many realise. Sure, you get to work in your bunny slippers and no one steals your lunch from the fridge. You imagine having artisan coffees at bohemian hours of the afternoon, sneering at the drones plodding their way to and from their claustrophobic little cubicles. You might consider using your rescued commuting time to pursue a new hobby or read War and Peace.
The reality is more likely to be unnecessary naps, wasting time browsing the internet, extraordinary heating bills, and occasional panic attacks about having no job security. You can easily begin to feel like a social pariah. The workplace is an easy place to make friends and you can bond over complaining about Sandra in HR while eating the cupcakes for some charity fundraising thing that seems to happen most days.
Expect your loved ones to take advantage of your ‘freedom’ – can you pop in and feed Gerald our python? I know we live 32 miles away and you hate snakes, but, well, it’s not like you’re busy or anything. When working from home the hours can become a blur, and sometimes you’ll find yourself working seven day weeks just to catch up with all the time you’ve wasted. But if working from home is your reality, here are a few tips to help you make stay organised, productive, and happy.
Lola Hoad, LH Designs works from home
- Create a workspace – the most important tip on the list. You deserve a dedicated space that is separate from your living space. It might just be a desk separated by a white Kallax unit, but this is your zone to get creative.
- Use technology to stay connected – working from home can feel isolating. It doesn’t have to be. Find online groups and forums to share the successes and struggles.
- Keep on top of paperwork – taxes, insurance, and pensions. When you work for an employer most or all of these will not be your responsibility. But as your own boss or entrepreneur, this is your job now. And don’t forget those vital savings for a rainy day or more likely a broken boiler from the extra use your heating gets.
- Manage food and snacks. It’s calling you… the fridge, brimming with tasty and distracting nibbles. Before you know it you’ll need a forklift to get out of the house. Get some self-control, or get one of those snack jars with a timed lock.
- Structure your day – develop routines and remember to include the break. No housework. Plan your lunch so you don’t find an excuse to pop out for a distracting supermarket visit. So many offers! Routines don’t have to be restrictive, work when you are most productive. Creativity is not quantifiable.
- Set Realistic goals – you want to deliver the goods, so be cautious when giving a ‘ready by’ time. The unexpected happens. And if you do finish the project early – kudos to you!
- Be professional – it’s 14:30. You’ve had those comfy PJs on for three days now. Classy. Dress to impress; you’re representing your business. What if the Queen pops over to tell you how wonderful your work is? Do you want to meet her in a batman onesie with an egg stain down the front? She won’t be amused. Having clothes you set aside for work helps you get into the work mindset too.
- Network electronically- there’s a world of other creative types out there, many are looking for collaborative partners. You want to be visible and reachable. But if you’re like 99% of the population and find yourself distracted by pins or Instagram feeds, there’s an App for that. Avoid anticipated distractions by limiting your free browsing time.
- Reflect – Recap and reflect the day and week past. What went well? Yay you! What could you do better next time? Make a note of it.
Happiness comes first
- Stay healthy – sitting most of the day is supposedly as bad as eating a cheeseburger each day. So get out and get some exercise. Put your glitter trainers on and just get out! Walk that dog. Go for that run, jog, and amble. Whatever, but look after your temple. Use the British daylight; it’s free vitamin D after all.
- Stay social – Talk to people either online or in the real world! Chatting to other people in similar roles to yourself can help you work through problems. Or give your mum a call, it’s been a while.
- Relaxation time – Plan your holidays, and do it when all those office slaves are trapped in their stuffy cubicles (flying on a Tuesday it’s the cheapest day). Keep your relation area separate and cultivate your inner ‘Finn’ by creating that hygge space you can relax in.
- Enjoy the flexibility – Pick a finish time each day, yes things may happen, but some of those can wait until the next work day.
Finally, have fun – celebrate your successes and be kind to yourself, you’re doing great. Not everyone can work from home, keep away from online distractions and get the job done with minimal (or no) supervision. Then eat cake!