Last year I took the life-changing decision to become a Virtual Assistant and I haven’t looked back! But learning to be disciplined and work from the comfort of my own home took a bit of getting used to!
During these extraordinary and unprecedented times, I wanted to share some of my top tips for working from home!
1. Get Up And Get Ready For Work!
Yes, staying in PJs all day whilst you work from bed sounds great and maybe for a day or two until the novelty wears off, that would be the case, but realistically this isn’t sustainable!
Psychologically there is something very motivating about having to get up and get ready for the working day, so why not take that shower, do your hair and makeup and dress up a bit! As a compromise, perhaps you could team your smart casual look with your favourite pair of slippers! I try to do all of these things and it means that I’m always ready to participate in any remote meetings that I might need to suddenly attend and once the work is done I’m ready to head out if I need or want to.
Don’t forget to get your day off to a good start with some brekky and your drink of choice! I’m an avid tea fan so I make sure I have one first thing and then prep another to take to the “office” with me!
2. Office Space
So, I’m fortunate enough to have a dedicated room I can call my office! Remote working is my business so it’s important to have a clear space where I can focus and shut the door to the rest of the household. If you’re lucky enough to have this space, do make use of it! It will help delineate the lines between work and home life! It will also give you the sense of going to work – even if your commute is now a quick jog up the stairs – ok maybe not everyone is so enthusiastic as to be jogging up the stairs, but you know what I mean!
If you don’t have a dedicated room, then I would suggest setting up a dedicated workspace at the most comfortable table in your home! Failing that, I have been known to work from the comfort of my sofa on occasion! However, this is not ideal, and I would suggest it only as a very short term solution, especially if you suffer with any sort of musculoskeletal problems!
Wherever you choose your workspace to be, make sure you are comfortable and have everything you need to hand! Computer equipment, phone, pens, notepads, Post It notes! Replicating your workspace at home will give you a sense of clear thinking and focus! It really helps me to get into the work frame of mind!
A top tip if you’re working from home where you have family around, is to pop on headphones and put some music or a podcast on! I know some people prefer to have a television show on in the background, but I find this too distracting! Whatever your preference, this is a nice perk of working from home!
4. Start Time
Ready, set, go!! Whenever you intend to start work, you want to be booting up that machine ahead of schedule! Aim to get there a little bit early, as you would normally in the office – unless you’re like me and timekeeping isn’t your strong suit – quite frankly this was another good reason for me to work from home!
It’s so important to schedule your time! If you can stick to it, you’ll find your productivity will remain high throughout the day. Scheduling might involve meetings, deadlines, recurring tasks, allocated time to check emails! But also, refreshment breaks and lunchtime!
Breaking your day up in this way can provide you with mini-goals, a sense of achievement and help keep the momentum going when the afternoon slump hits! You can use free tools like Toggl to help you track time on each of your tasks, which is something that is standard in my industry! It’s a great tool to reflect on how much time tasks have taken, but also a good way to see exactly how much work you’ve done in a day, week, month!
You should absolutely get up and step away from the desk throughout the day! Taking refreshment breaks as you would in the workplace is a good way to give yourself a mini-break from the screen and ensure you’re keeping yourself hydrated! Drinking enough and giving your eyes a bit of a break will also go some way to helping alleviate the afternoon slump!
When it comes to lunchtime, another perk of working from home is that you can make healthier choices! You have your whole kitchen at your disposal! Perhaps you have saved yourself something from the night before! You might even be able to sit and have some quality time eating lunch with your family! This is a really nice perk and one that can help redress the work-life balance so many of us crave!
7. Fresh Air And Exercise
After lunch make sure you get a bit of time to get some fresh air! Sure, this is not always possible, but weather permitting and if you have a little bit of time left over in your break, getting out for a brisk walk or just getting out in the garden can really help lift mood and give you a sense of wakefulness!
If you can’t get out, then maybe try opening a window to let a bit of fresh air in! I firmly believe it’s good for your wellbeing!
8. Stay Connected
So, I thought working from home would be lonely, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! Technology is truly your friend when it comes to feeling “connected” and it’s so easy to alleviate the feelings of isolation by picking up the phone, communicating via email or direct message, collaborative tools such as Trello, or taking part in a video conferencing call using Zoom! It’s different to what you might be used to, but it all goes towards maintaining that sense of being connected to the wider world!
I also take this ethos into my personal life and remain connected with my friends and family daily in the same way! Group chats, telephone calls, or just simply video calling in on someone and being in their company.
So, the biggest challenge I’m facing, like many of you out there, is trying to work from home with a child around now schools and childcare providers have closed their doors for the foreseeable future! This is unchartered territory and I think everyone’s situation is going to vary depending on how many children you have, how old they are, and whether you have any extra support at home!
Extreme circumstances will call for creative thinking with your scheduling! However, the beauty of working from home, is that you can be so flexible with your time! So how about adjusting your working hours in line with your child’s naps, getting up earlier, or working in the evenings after they go to bed!
Alternatively, perhaps you could set up a family workspace, so children can do homework/homeschooling alongside the adults doing their own work! I’d love to hear how other people are intending to manage this situation, so do get in touch, it would be great to share/brainstorm some ideas!
10. Step Away From The Work!
One difficulty that working from home can often throw up, is the inability to stop working!!! I know unbelievable right! But it’s very easy to think “just ten more minutes” and then suddenly an hour has passed!
So, do be disciplined! Set an alarm if you need to! But when it’s time to down tools, do it! Walk away from the work and close the door! Not only will this ensure you keep your work-life balance, it will also help keep you feeling motivated for your next working day!
Home working advice and wellbeing considerations for self-isolation – by the Safety & Health Practitioner