Things are shifting and changing ad we continue to hunker down indoors to beat the coronavirus. But it can be confusing knowing how best to work from home if you’ve never done it before.
After working from home as a freelance writer, blogger and marketer for the past three years, I’ve learned how to avoid the endless temptations to hoover the house, raid the cupboard for custard creams, or lose myself in endless streams of memes.
I’ve learned how to stay happy, healthy, and productive, navigate distractions as much as possible, find and build community, and get my work done - even when there’s chaos in my own world.
Here’s what I’ve discovered along the way.
Don’t neglect your physical and mental health
Just because you work from home for now, doesn’t mean you have to work all of the hours. Take proper breaks and get out of the house at least once a day. I learned this the hard way. Even before self-keeping, I would work for long hours without even taking time out to eat or move. My mood - and my work - wasn’t the best it could be.
Establish boundaries with your “working hours”
This is especially important if you’re getting distracted by your family, spouse or kids… or yourself. Set boundaries with your working hours and make them clear, connecting with your co-quarantine gang at breakfast and lunch and tea breaks.
Put your phone in another room for a bit
When was the last time you didn’t look at your phone for a whole day? When you need to be productive, flight mode is your friend. Or, simply move your little tech distraction to another room entirely. Let your friends and family know you won’t be near it during your solid working periods.
That way, you don’t feel guilty for not replying to messages immediately. I’ve also found Forest useful - where you plant a seed then get on with your tasks. If you leave your phone alone, it grows into a tree. You can also earn virtual coins in the app, which can be spent on planting real trees on Earth. Lovely.
Stick to your normal routine as much as you can
Before coronavirus: Breakfast, walk to the station, coffee from Pret, book on the train.
Now: Breakfast, walk round the block or in the park, back for a homemade coffee and a little read before you start work. If you’re shifting between tasks and projects and would usually have a little team meeting or brain-break, jump on a Zoom call with colleagues or just go for a walk with a feel-good podcast. Commit to a time you log off for the workday and stick to it.
Cherish the time you save not commuting
Actually, with no commute - you now have more time. You can have a proper meal in your lunch break, not a grab-’n’-go Tesco meal deal. You can do a bit of yoga on YouTube first thing. You can learn to play the ukulele in your 15-minute work breaks. Or you can do absolutely nothing and just be. No rush. So, what are you going to do with the extra time you get back from traveling to and from work?
Reach out and nurture relationships from a distance
And not just via email. We’ve never lived in a better age for socialising remotely. Keep close contact with your co-workers, family or other freelancers through social media, FaceTime, Skype, Slack or Zoom. You don’t need to be a big brand to use these online platforms - they’re a great way for anyone to get face-to-face contact, especially if you’re feeling lonely. More than not, sharing how you’re feeling really, really helps. Keep talking and keep checking in on others.
Look for the light, even when all you want to do is sob in the shower
From myself and Influencer Update, I truly hope these tips help you focus more on your health, wellbeing and work - even if you’re doing it all in your pyjamas. We may all be distanced physically right now, but we can support each other and ourselves more than ever - if we choose to. It’s totally okay to consciously choose to see some good in turbulent times.