As I might have mentioned in the past, I am far from recommending working from home.
However, I work from home on a regular basis. As we are living through a pandemic, many of us are at the moment working from home. For this reason, I thought it would be a good idea to write about 5 tips I implemented in my daily work-at-home life in order to make it acceptable.
There is much advice online concerning how to organize when working from home. I am following Amy Landino on this topic and the best advice I recently took from her is to adjust tips to my particular situation. It is intuitive, sure, but somethings are at times mentioned as though you either do it in this way or you are wrong.
The list below stems from my experiences with implementing work-from-home tips and it is based on my preferences concerning work, getting things done and feeling accomplished. I tried many things in order to make work from home work for me. Some proved useful. Others have proved to not be my type. Some felt draining at first, but practicing them regardless, has positively impacted me. I will only mention those pieces of advice I practiced and worked for me.
- Get up at more or less the same time: Commuting is out of the way for now. We could sleep in a few more minutes before starting to work. This is a decision to be made on one’s preference: are you the type who likes to sleep more, get up at the last minute and rush to work or are you the type who likes to sleep, get up before the last minute and have enough time to get ready for work. There are more possibilities here, but basically the decision to be made is between feeling rushed or feeling relaxed in the morning. I am in the second category. I like to feel I have enough time. Therefore, I wake up more or less at the same time. I aim for before the alarm. Also, I love to sleep so I make sure I get enough of that two. It is not only about getting up early, but also getting enough sleep.
- Get dressed: My wardrobe can be split into four categories: clothes I sleep in, clothes I wear at home, clothes for outside world and workout clothes. I used to work in clothes I wear at home when at home. Now, during auto-isolation, I need to separate even more between working hours and leisure hours. Therefore, I now have working pyjamas when I sleep, workout clothes when I do sports, house clothes for scrolling social media and reading fiction and work clothes when I work. It is a different vibe. And there are no exceptions: Work call on Saturday morning? Work clothes on. Yes, it’s cool, we can stay in our pyjamas or house clothes for the day. That is cool for like a week or so, but then it gets old. This piece of advice is the one I most resisted. Truth be told, I never applied it rigorously before the quarantine. And now I live by it.
- Try to make a night-time and a day-time routine. I am one of those people who tried to do it all in the morning in order to be successful: get up early, drink water, meditate, do sports, read a page, write in a journal, listen to something positive….By 10:00 am I was tired and stressed because the reason I got up in the first place was to work, not to do all the other things which would supposedly put me into work mood. And then I gave myself permission to do it my way: wake up without an alarm, make tea and coffee, check updates on YouTube, sit on the balcony for a while listening to something nice or read something non-academic while drinking coffee, check e-mail and completely ignore it, write some texts to some friends, take a shower, take fresh clothing, get to work. Write, work, prepare for calls, get into calls, prepare for the next day, include a workout, hang out with the boyfriend, move around, read something. Get to bed before 10:00 and read. Then repeat. I make it sound [read] like every day is the same as the one before. And to some degree it is. But it feels so different as I engage with different people online, I work on different projects and change my workout routine. The thing is that there are rituals that help me start, do and complete the work I want to do.
- Prepare before calls: I am in about six calls a week on average. And I’ve noticed that sometimes people don’t prepare for calls. It’s good that you connect, but when you agreed on preparing something for the next time, please prepare. Respect the other person’s time and send the materials 1-2 days in advance. Don’t expect to send it late and to receive in-depth feedback. It’s hardly going to happen.
- Make a list of want to-dos for the next day: When I plan what I am going to do the next day, I am making things happen. Making the list its mental preparation for the next day. It feels much easier to get things started when you know what and why there is to be done. What I like to do at the beginning of each month is a list of all the projects I am working on, in all aspects of my life, and then, for each one I create a to-do list. My list is written in actions (read this book, write this report, eat carrots, and so on). And then, at the beginning of each week, I take things from the monthly to-do list and include them in a week’s day. I make sure there are not more than five tasks each day, that I include the important and urgent and that I include time for emergencies. I accept I might not do it all: it’s allowed to move them around, taking deadlines into consideration. I don’t rely on my memory and neither should you. It’s stressing, unclear and potentially depressing.
- Bonus: do the hard task: the advice is to do the hard thing first. Well, I can’t and it’s frustrating. So, I do it second. I start with something that’s fun for me. Getting it done puts me in a good mood and I feel more ready for tacking the hard task of the day.
I like to learn from the experiences of other people so, what’s the best piece of advice you have for me concerning working from home? Thank you for living it in the comments below.
Make today count!