Working from home isn’t for everyone. Some thrive on social interaction while others, like myself, prefer to maintain as much space as possible away from people and have been doing this social distancing and self-isolation thing for years!
However, working from home doesn’t have to be a lonely, depressing experience. The freedom and happiness I have experienced working from home have definitely made it worth it and I don’t see myself going back to working in an office anytime soon.
1. Take time for yourself before work
I know, it’s hard to wake up early, but taking just half an hour for myself before work to drink my coffee, fry up some eggs for breakfast, and write in my journal has transformed the way I work. Starting your day on the right foot will make your workday go much smoother.
I like to do short, 10–15-minute workouts to get my body moving and my digestion working, especially recently while being quarantined at home all day. I also love to stretch and do a little yoga when I wake up feeling anxious or stressed.
2. Get up from your desk every half an hour
I live by this one. I’m one of those people who gets fidgety if I’m sitting in one place for too long. I need to stretch and move my legs every 20–30 minutes to keep going with work. Otherwise, I’ll find some distraction to take me away from what I’m supposed to be doing.
3. Use a to-do list!
My to-do list is like my bible. I abide religiously by the list of tasks I need to get done each day. Discipline is the key to success and achieving your goals. Passion can only get you so far, hard work and discipline will take you the rest of the way.
Now, I wouldn’t suggest listing out every single thing in your to-do lists. The art of writing to-do lists is much more nuanced than just listing things out. I like to use three categories when writing out my tasks for the day, week, or month ahead:
a. Non-Negotiables (Work, meditating, reading, and journaling.)
b. Variables (Admin tasks that change depending on the week. Sometimes it’s tax-related, sending emails, or planning a trip.)
c. Long-Terms (Related more to my future goals. Research on how to get a visa to live in a certain country, a business idea I’m considering, or examining my budgets and finances.)
4. Track your Time
I work for a company as an independent contractor and they use Tick to track the time spent on deliverables. I use it to support this, but also to track my own work hours, which then helps me complete my invoices and timesheets to receive payment.
Whether you are a full-time employee or freelancer, I’d still suggest tracking your time. Time is money as they say and you should know how much time you’re spending on various tasks. I also like to do a bit of a review at the end of each month to gauge how much time I’m spending on various categories (admin, research, meetings, etc).
5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Working from home means that you are on your own and have to manage your own time. You also won’t be directly in contact with your boss or colleagues. The positive? You get to work in your PJs or your underwear (I’m not judging!). The negative? No one knows how much you’re working or how insanely busy you are and you’ll need to speak up a lot more.
Do not fall into the trap of becoming a “yes” person, no matter how good you are at your job. A “yes” person is overwhelmed with work, stressed during and following work hours, and ends up burning out very fast.
Don’t be a “yes” person, but don’t be a “no” person either. Be a “maybe” person: “I’ll be available to work on that upcoming project once I’ve wrapped up the two projects I’m currently working on next week.” You need to keep your sanity and avoid burn-out for everyone’s sake, including the company or client for which you’re working.
6. Try not to skip too many team meetings
Being on your own, juggling all the different things you need to do, and not having a colleague nearby to vent your frustrations may cause you to feel overwhelmed and like you have more work than you actually do.
Look at your to-do list.
Try your best not to skip too many meetings. Know what the meeting you’re being invited to is about, consider whether it would be useful for you to attend, then decide whether to join or not, depending on your workload (and how much you love, like, tolerate, dislike, or abhor those attending!).
Sure, if you’re swamped and overwhelmed don’t force yourself to attend meetings that might be a waste of your time. Do keep in mind though that because you’re working from home, you will want to attend a few just to keep in touch with your colleagues and ensure you know what’s going on.
7. Avoid Multi-Tasking!
This is something I’m still struggling with to be honest. A close friend scolded me last week about this really bad habit of mine which includes answering emails while I’m in a meeting, typing up notes while listening to a podcast about how the world is facing impending doom due to SJWs, and eating my lunch while doing research.
The problem with multi-tasking is that it affects the quality of your work. I find that the more I over-stretch myself with tasks, the more likely it is that I will underperform. The key is to focus on things one at a time and to truly give yourself to the task at hand. I know, this sounds super cliché and cheesy, but just try it.
Sit at your desk, put on some Ludovico Einaudi, and target that one task you’ve been struggling to complete. Give it 10 minutes and you will be in the zone, focused, and ready to conquer all of your daily tasks. Keep distractions to a minimum, so no listening to podcasts (especially ones about how the world is ending) when you’re trying to get in the zone!
8. Complete your most dreaded task first
What’s the thing you absolutely hate doing? Do it first and get it over with! I’m not a fan of scheduling calls. I find it annoying to coordinate schedules and find the back-and-forth about the best time to have the call tedious, so that’s what I prefer to complete first.
Organize your tasks in your to-do list from the most hated or urgent task to the most tolerable. I’m constantly changing the order of my tasks, organizing them based on the order of completion. This helps you see what you’ve done and what’s next so that you know when to take your break or when to wrap things up!
9. Take your lunch break and even a nap if you feel like you need it
I am a strong believer in breaks. Divide your day into chunks and include a few breaks throughout. You need to eat enough, drink enough, and move enough to be productive. If you’re not well-rested and giving yourself what you need, then how do you expect to succeed at what you do?
I love power naps. Just a 15-minute snooze energizes me, especially in the early afternoons when we all start to get frustrated and hangry. I prefer taking a nap rather than having a second or third coffee. Too much caffeine gives me the jitters!
10. Do not overwork!
Always remember that your personal life and your loved ones come before your job. Working from home can end up causing your work to spill into your personal life and this is a key thing to be aware of. Overworking can lead to burn-out, frustration and, ultimately, failure. Imbalances in your work life are not to be taken lightly. Always ensure that you are maintaining a healthy balance, giving adequate time and effort to your work, but also offering enough care and attention to your family and friends.
We’re all in this together, guys. And if you still have your job, get to work from home, and have a roof over your head and food to eat, then you are already blessed.
In these difficult times, remember to be grateful. Wake up in the morning and think of everything you have to be grateful for. Practice gratitude and no problem will seem too big. The power of positivity is within you.