What I learned in my 3+ years of home-office and could help you during Covid-19 home office
It feels weird to sit down now and finally blog again. Yet, I do want to use the extra time I have on my hands right now as productive as I can. During these times, I will publish a new blog post every Sunday. I will write down tips I have for your workflow and anything else that is connected to staying from home. I will share stories and recipes and some local tips. We are all in this together.
I would like to use this moment to provide as much helpful and useful content as I can. What better point to start than sharing my experience with working from home. Since so many people, who are used to office environments and struggle with working from home.
Now, these are tips that work for me and might not be the strategy for you. But, I am sure that everyone can take a little something away from this. For all these tips, I recommend making exceptions depending on which type of worker you are. In general, I recommend doing whatever makes you feel good about your situation. Sometimes your gut feeling is the right indicator. These tips work very well for me and have been working at home for quite a while now.
Keep your morning routine.
In the days of working from home, you might feel less need to shower. It will feel unnecessary to get ready, or change out of your PJs, and believe me, I feel you! Furthermore, I have been there, and I still am sometimes. Having said that, this might be the best advice I have: KEEP YOUR MORNING ROUTINE AND GET READY.
Do what you would do when going to work. With the upside that you can wear comfier clothes. Have your coffee/breakfast in the morning. Take a shower and get ready, change into a different outfit. (I wear yoga pants and sweaters/ oversized shirts. I have different sets for work, going out, and sleeping.) Putting make-up on can also feel good sometimes if that is something you would typically do.
Once you are ready, go to your workstation, open the laptop, and work away. Keeping this routine will help you to be productive and appreciate the weekend again. Where you can stay in bed or change the routine.
Find a dedicated space for working from home and switch if needed.
Now, this is a point I know is not as easy to realize. And while many people recommend a fixed working space, I am all for switching it up. At the moment, no one has the option to sit down and work from a café. So I suggest you try to pick a separate spot at home and move it around when you need it. Sometimes you might feel stuck, and a switch from the desk to the living room or the terrace might help a lot.
If you have the option and are lucky enough to have space at home, try not to work from your bed. Especially in stressful and anxiety-provoking times like these, this might affect your sleep. I completely understand that sometimes it is the only option. I have been there, I used to work always and from every spot at my place. I just think right now, you should be smart.
Use the Pomodoro method when you are stuck.
This method is popular among many freelancers and remote workers. When you have trouble focusing, this might help a lot. Basically, you just need to set a timer for 25/30 minutes in which you work very focussed on only one task. Then you take a 5-minute break. And then you do the same thing over and over again.
It is crucial to avoid all distractions during these 20-30 minutes of working. Turn your phone on flight mode, wear headphones, and isolate yourself. In the 5-minute break, you can check your emails, Instagram, or whatever you want. But not during your productive session.
Set your phone on do not disturb or flight mode
I get distracted very easily, so emails and notifications through me off my game very quickly. Especially when I am working on something for one client, and other clients keep messaging me. When it gets too much, I set my phone on flight mode or turn it off and check my emails or messages once every hour. That helps me to stay focussed and do better work.
Hold yourself accountable or find a person to report to
Keeping deadlines is the easiest when you set them. Sometimes we do not have to report for every task, and a to-do list is not enough authority to get things done. Especially when we work projects for our self, we sometimes tend to leave them. If you work better when you have a deadline and someone to report to but miss that in your current situation. Then you can try to either hold yourself accountable or pick a partner. I use Asana for that and have a nagging voice in my head anyway. You can also find a person to help you stay productive. That does not need to be your boss, it can be a friend or a family member or even your partner.
Ask that person to check in with you on your tasks and present them with what you did. Make sure you pick a person that you can trust and take criticism from.
Write “to-do” and “done lists.”
This might sound very simple but is a great tip. Write down your tasks on a paper or create an Asana account and structure them into your do. A to-do list helps to stay focussed and to not forget anything when your mind is running in circles. Do not forget to cross them off because nothing feels better than that. I also would group them and list them according to their urgency or volume.
If you need a boost, you can also create a “done list” at the end of the day. Write down what you actually did that day and see how much it actually was. This helps for those days that you feel nothing is really moving forward.
Take breaks and set a time to finish.
I am more than guilty about that. During busy days I work until I need to go to bed and get up the next day. Just to sit down with my first coffee and start working again. Believe me, if you can avoid that and be smart about your time management. Especially in the time and mental pressure of the Covid-19 outbreak, it helps to a) set a fixed routine and b) brighten up your day with some highlights. It also helps to have a nice goal and things to do for the night. Like cooking a special meal, watching a specific movie, have a call with friends and family, or work-out. Try sticking to the time you set for yourself, and you will notice that you will focus better and work smarter.
Manage your time wisely
The same goes for breaks, take a break when you need it and not when you think you should take one. I, for example, do not like long lunch breaks, they take me out of the workflow, and I am way less productive after I take them. So, I usually set a more extended break in the afternoon and leave some easy or fun tasks for the evening. Usually, I edit pictures in the evening since that does not feel like work at all for me. Sometimes I try to use this long break for other things. I do chores like going to buy groceries, do the dishes, vacuum, etc. I do that while listening to music or a podcast. Additionally this little hack also helps me to not have to do those chores on the weekends or evenings.
Work when you are productive
But, I have to say that I usually work on the weekend and my partner does most of the cleaning at home. During these days, we can keep the weekends somewhat free, though, because I lost a lot of work. It also helps to set your working hours according to your productivity levels. Only if you have the option, of course. Make sure to communicate your schedule to your boss or clients, so they know when you are available.
Stay positive and stay home
I hope you could take something away from this and work from home will get a little easier. Next week I will share a post about apps and programs that make working from home more comfortable. And help you to be more productive. Until then, do not forget to stay safe and stay at home.