It seems working from home is going to be the new normal for now. For freelancers, it’s already the norm for them and while some are adjusting well to this new arrangement, some are also struggling to adapt to the new reality.
Below are some tips to stay productive and efficient while working from home.
- Designate your working space. Separate work from home. Don’t do it wherever you happen to be. Set aside some space (it doesn’t have to be big) to be your workspace. That way, when you enter it, you know consciously what you’re there to do: go to work. It changes the state of mind from “I’m at home” to “I’m at work”.
- Set regular hours, and stick to the schedule.
- Keep your desk and general work area tidy. A tidy workspace helps keep a tidy mind, which helps make your day more productive.
- Turn off the telephone when you need to work without distraction. In fact, if possible, shut off the Internet.
- Don’t stop working if it’s a hard day. There will be times when you haven’t got any ideas, or just don’t feel productive. Train yourself to do some work anyway. It’s a short fall from “It’s just not happening at the moment” to “It’s a bit tough, I’ll stop for the day”. Next thing you know, you never seem to get anything done.
- Keep three lists of three. The first list has three things you will do today. The second is three things you’d like to get done, but aren’t essential. The third is three things that need to be done at some point.
- Start the day properly. Have a good breakfast, spend some time alone to exercise, meditate, pray or do whatever. Just make sure that your mind isn’t in the “I hate working” frame of mind.
- Have a good chair. Mesh backed ones, or good comfy leather perhaps. It’s worth spending some money on.
- Keep a notepad and pencil nearby. Jot down ideas for projects or anything that springs to mind. Then have a pinboard to stick them on. Look at it twice a week to refresh your mind of things that could be done sometime. Some of the best work you’ll ever do will come from random bits of inspiration.
- Give yourself breaks. Don’t be locked in the room all the time. For every hour you work, have a 15-30-minute break. Give your mind time to digest what it’s just done, then come back. You’ll improve the quality of what you produce a hundredfold.
- Have a pint of water by your desk all the time. Try and work up to drinking a few pints a day, if you don’t already.
- Know when to stop. Don’t work late into the night. Set defined times when you’re going to work, and then when it passes, stop. You can have a bit of leeway here, but make sure that you don’t end up letting work run your life.
- Designate certain days for certain work. For example: prepare reports on Fridays. This allows you to walk out of your office for your “weekend” without feeling like you left work unfinished.
- Set boundaries for those around you as well. Schedule your work time and make sure the kids and spouse know that you are unavailable for playing, chores, etc. during this time.
- Be grateful you’re working from home and not in some cubicle! That gratitude will motivate you to work harder, so you can continue to work from home.