You’re taking the leap going freelance or going through a period where you have to #stayhome because a certain virus has everyone in quarantine and you can’t go to the office. No matter what situation you find yourself in, this guide will provide you with some knowledge from your homie: Hi! I’m Wan and I’ve been working from home for the past 4 years as a freelance… well, photographer, translator, illustrator, graphic designer, web designer, writer… and most of the work done from the commodities that my home offered.
If this is your first time working from home or doing home office, the first thing I want to tell you is to be patient with yourself! It’s amazing working from your place, yet it might take time until you figure out what works for you!
I’ll share a few tips that have helped me stay organised during the years.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to do something before you start working; the fact you’re at home and don’t need to commute to work doesn’t mean you have to jump from bed and straight to work. Wake up at the same hour every day, get some breakfast, stretch, take a shower and get dressed. After you’ve done those basics, you’re ready to start.
The office corner
Pick a corner of your house and call it your office. I know how tempting it is to bring your laptop to your bed, but trust me, better have designated spaces for each activity and bed is for sleeping. Try to keep away any work from your bedroom, so your mind can automatically associate your bedroom with relaxation. I, for example, recently moved my workspace from the bedroom to the kitchen table, and find it to be more productive because my mind associates the same spot on the kitchen with working.
If you don’t happen to have the physical space (whether you live in a shared place or a single room apartment) I encourage you to be a little creative and try to find a way to create the feeling you have “a new space”: maybe it’s work time when you light a candle and sit on your desk or you know it’s work time when you lay a tablecloth on the kitchen’s table. These might be little details however, super useful cues for the mind to know when it’s time to focus on work.
It’s work, so you better take a shower and change those PJs for comfortable clothes. You don’t really have to wear a suit or anything like that (although if you will, be my guest), the whole idea of this step is to (again) trick the mind to know that even if you’re home you are still taking your work seriously. Wear some jeans, a tee, maybe put on some makeup if you feel like and get ready to go to your office corner.
To-dolisting like a boss
See what i’ve done there? I turned “to-do list” into a verb haha. Having so much time on our hands, it’s easy to get tricked by thinking we can do it all when in reality we still have the same amount of time as when we are in a normal office. What has been working for me lately is to make a to-do list for the week and break it down to a maximum of 3 or 4 tasks per day. In this way, you can dedicate the needed amount of time to each task, have a much more high quality result and be able to cross something out from your to-do list, which gives you this feeling of accomplishment and reward.
Remember the goal here is not to get everything ready in a day so you can take the rest of the days off, it’s to organize the time wisely in order to have a reasonable work-life balance. And talking about work-life balance…
Airplane mode on
Distractions could make your really productive routine, your beautiful working space and your to-dolisting skills be useless. I try to avoid having my phone in the same room (or at least at hand reach) when starting my day; it’s easy to start scrolling and getting lost in the illusion of productivity by refreshing your inbox. In fact, I deleted all the apps that could have anything related to the work I do; in that way, I can associate working with using my laptop only and avoid having to reach out for my phone and get distracted.
If you’re working on your laptop only and your main distraction are some websites, I’d recommend getting a time blocker extension for your browser! And if you keep reaching out for your phone, I use this app called Forest to block my phone while I’m working.
Respect your working hours
If you work at the office, you start at 9 and finish at 5 which reasonably means you unplug from your work activities at 5. The fact you’re at home doesn’t mean you have to overwork. Take lunch or coffee breaks, use a timer, create routines and ultimately get an alarm clock to ring when you have to stop. Do it for your mental health: you don’t live to work, you work to live.
Despite how tricky it might sound, working from home is a lovely and enjoyable experience when you have found your own routines, what works and what doesn’t! Although it is getting more and more common, I still see working from home a privilege. So enjoy it and make the most of it!