Dos and don’ts when you’re working from home
Day 7 stuck at home to avoid the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Not too different to a typical day in the life of a freelance translator, to be honest.
My boyfriend and I have been working remotely for some years now, and we even enjoy the quietness of home when specific projects need our full attention.
For those of you who are new to remote working, I have some tips for enjoying the home office and getting the most out of it.
1. Don’t get too homely
One of the biggest temptations in the home office is not getting dressed for work. You could simply slide off the bed and waddle directly to your desk in your comfy pyjamas and your sloppiest sleepshirt.
The problem: missing out this routine will stop you from starting off the day strong. And the less motivated you are, the harder it will be to get things done.
Tip: I usually start my day with a small yoga session or plank exercises. There are great videos which only take 10-15 minutes but will warm up your body and give you a reason to immediately have a shower and jump into your clothes.
2. Do get dressed and ready for work
If you want to start with a clear, sharp and focused mind, then you need a routine. So, get dressed as if you were heading to the office.
Ok, maybe you can allow yourself a more casual outfit. This way, you get your body and mind into the right mood for some productive work.
Tip: I reward myself for the travel time I save by not going to the coworking space. For example, I usually take an extra half an hour in the morning to enjoy my coffee and to read a book or listen to a podcast.
3. Don’t check your phone (or your laundry)
Staying in touch with the outside world is essential, especially in times of isolation and social distancing. However, regularly scrolling through your social feeds can be a real time killer: even a quick check of your instant messages means it takes your brain precious time to refocus on what you were doing in the first place.
The same applies to activities like doing the laundry or washing dishes – all distractions that will use up brainpower. And the less focused you are, the more likely you are to make mistakes.
Tip: Go on a social detox during working hours. Close your office door and log out of your social media accounts. If you can’t be without your phone, install a website blocker like FocusMe, which limits your daily time on specific social channels and webpages. An excellent opportunity for breaking with bad habits and regaining focus.
4. Do rely on to-do lists
Whether on paper or digital, to-do lists are a homeworker’s best friend. They will help you get an idea of the expected workload. Also, by prioritizing your tasks, you’ll make a structured plan for the day.
Start with your most challenging task and finish with those needing less brainpower. Avoid multitasking and tick off one task at a time, to work more efficiently and have more free time left at the end of the day.
Tip: I usually write my to-do list for the coming day in the evening. That way, I get thoughts about work off my mind, and I know exactly what to do first the next morning.
5. Don’t mix business with pleasure
If your working space is in your living room or in the kitchen, you might find it hard to switch off and relax at the end of the day.
Therefore, make sure you store away your laptop and other materials when you’re having lunch or if you’re done for the day. Drawing this line will give your day the structure you need to enjoy both your work and your free time.
Tip: Set yourself a schedule for the day, with dedicated times for work, breaks and free time. If you lose track of time, set yourself an alarm clock to know when it’s time to have lunch or leave the office for your yoga class on the mat you roll out in the living room.
Conclusion: if you’re your own boss, make sure you’re a nice one
Work can feel good, especially when you get into the swing of it. And at times like these, some people work even more to distract themselves from worries. However, please don’t overdo it.
At home, you are your own boss, so it’s your responsibility to keep yourself productive and happy. Clear boundaries and smart routines will help you maintain the right work-life balance. Even if your world is temporarily limited to the walls of your own home.