While I split my working days between my home office and co-working space Sofia Future Farm, the next weeks will be exclusively home days. We live in extraordinary times, and this means some changes for everyone. Maybe you are used to working from home, or you’re in a totally new situation where you’re put on home office duty in times of Covid-19 – maybe there’s a tip or two here that help you along this ride. Mention your own tips in the comments!
Start with a proper set up – working from home can seem like an easy thing to do, but if you want to be productive, your workspace has to allow that. Creating an overall environment that’s enabling and not distracting you:
- Having a comfortable (ideally ergonomic) chair
- a good screen or an elevated laptop that helps with posture
- a good lighting situation that won’t make you tired
- Keep your desk tidy and no clutter around you
- I also love having greens around me, so maybe try putting one of your houseplants closer or if you like to have some flowers around, take those to your workplace. Somehow it makes a difference!
My must-have items for a successful workday at home: Laptop stand for an elevated position, Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for more flexibility, my French Press coffee, having my calendar and pens handy (I use a combination of weekly calendar and notebook so I have everything in one place), noise-cancelling headphones (you never know when the neighbours start drilling or the dogs outside have a fight).
Calendars, Notebooks, Reminders and all that – use the tools that work for you at home as well – this depends, of course, a bit if you’re new to home office work as a measure from your employer, or if you’re starting self-employed life. The right tools help immensely with getting things done. Also, while things seem more relaxed at home, it can easily trick you into losing track of what you’re doing. I always start my day with my calendar and my to-do list for the week, so evaluate what do do and what’s realistic to achieve today. Good list-work is essential and both helps to keep your tasks in order, but also adds a rewarding experience when you can tick something off.
Figure out a good home routine – while you’re less restricted at home when it comes to your working hours, it’s easier to slip out of your routine and your hours of productivity when you’re at home. Especially if you’re used to regular office hours and working remotely with a team, try to stick as much as possible with your peers for the best results. But you can also try to use it in a way to follow your own schedule better, if you prefer an early start or a later evening. Sticking to routines is essential – while I don’t personally work very well with strict time-blocking, having the same morning rituals and sticking with certain types of work at my most productive times, has been really helpful.
Going with your productivity flow – we all tend to know when we’re most productive, for me it’s the early morning until lunchtime, I am useless during the afternoon and get into a fresh run of energy usually by the time most people get off work, and I work a bit longer in the evening. I prefer having calls and video conferences in the morning to get them out of the way and give me a good push of motivation for the rest of the day. It’s pure luxury to be able to use your natural rhythm – and while you’re working from home, perhaps you can try that.
Don’t work in your pyjama – yeah we’ve all been there. And while leggings or sweatpants are my bottom of choice at all times, putting on something presentable on my upper half just makes me feel more put-together, gets me in a work mode and also prevents frantic scrambling around when a surprise video call from a client comes in. While I don’t believe in make-up when you’re at home (give your skin a break), there’s nothing wrong with looking (at least partly) like you’re at work 🙂
Stay in touch with colleagues and co-workers – the home office can be lonely, especially in these self-quarantine times when you don’t really have another option. While it’s great to be away from those people that sometimes maybe distract you all the time, do make sure to stay connected through Slack, or FaceTime or by calling the people you work with, and make sure things don’t get too isolated.
Remember your breaks and don’t eat in front of your desk – taking proper coffee breaks throughout the day, get up from your desk for a while, and also having a proper lunch break, are so important for a productive day in the home office. Whether you’re the cooking-type (make sure you have all supplies needed at hand) or if you want to place a delivery order (do that early ahead of time, lunch hours are busy). My lunch breaks are usually accompanied by a podcast.
If you can, work from somewhere you can’t see your bed – again, totally depends on your space as well, but I always found it really difficult to work with my bed in sight. Clearly separating your workspace from – especially – sleeping space, has helped me a lot with staying more focussed at work and sleeping better. While I sometimes still struggle with that separation completely (the kitchen counter is sometimes great to work at and for more minor tasks I also find the sofa a bit too inviting at times).
Enjoy the perks of time saved – doing laundry while you’re waiting for an upload to finish, maybe even that afternoon nap, finally call the insurance over that thing you keep forgetting when you’re at the office. It might feel strange, but the time you save from commuting or sitting in unnecessary meetings – you might as well use it to your advantage.
Go for a walk and get some air – best part of working at home! If the weather permits, get outside and soak up some sunlight and get fresh air. It will wake you up and make you more alert, and since many people spend the best hours of the day inside, make use of the home office by getting some of that sun.