Used to that nine-to-five office life and struggling to cope while you’re stuck at home? Never fear – our freelancers have plenty of wisdom to share from a total of 15 years and more than 3,700 working days of work-from-home experience.
Choose your location carefully
And don’t pick the bed or the sofa. You want to be comfortable – you can’t work well if you’re not happy with your surroundings – but try to avoid the living room too, if possible. Save that for family and leisure time. A separate room with a door to block out noise from your housemates is ideal. Lighting is also key to an effective workspace: you don’t want to strain your eyes, and you definitely don’t want to end up with a headache. Found a location that checks all the boxes? Great. Now stay there. Mobile working might be all the rage at the moment, but a fixed workspace at home is essential for keeping work and leisure separate.
Make yourself comfortable
Prioritize comfort when setting up your new workspace. Steal the best chair you can find in the house. Pay attention to ergonomics too: the height of your screen, how far away you are from it, enough space for your keyboard and mouse. And don’t slack on keeping your space clean. After all, a tidy desk equals a tidy mind.
Prepare your game plan
A simple, effective strategy: prepare a checklist for the next day or week. A detailed schedule is also helpful – and remember to plan in time away from the computer as well. Make your own motivation: start the day on time, with two or three small tasks that you can get done quickly to give you a feeling of progress. Having a clear overview of your tasks will give your day structure, and you’ll stay focused rather than being at the whim of your moods. Plus, you’ll be actively combating all the distractions lying in wait at home. And on that note…
The siren song of Netflix and the latest episode of your favorite show, the freshly-printed newspaper lying alluringly on the kitchen table, the aggressive red WhatsApp notification that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible… Your apartment is a minefield of potential distractions. It might seem tough, but you need to resist the call of the TV, turn off push notifications on your phone and keep anything else that might grab your attention out of sight and out of mind. Productivity requires peace and quiet. Leave the housework for later, too, and don’t try to sneak in a load of laundry between jobs – it’s a slippery slope that will only lead to you reorganizing your sock drawer when you should be finishing that report.
If you have small children at home with you, explain that you have to work in order to earn money, and you need quiet so that you can concentrate. The better you can concentrate, the sooner you’ll be free to play with them again. Be consistent about afternoon naps and set clear rules.
Working from home means you’ll automatically be moving around less, so remember to stand up regularly. Some tasks, such as phone calls, can even be completed while standing. Do some yoga or a few stretches and go outside a least once a day, whether for a short walk or a quick run in the park. Daylight is just as important for your health as movement. If you’re confined to home because of coronavirus, take your breaks on the balcony. A breath of fresh air will combat the after-lunch slump much more effectively than coffee or power naps, we promise.
If every day feels the same, that’s no bad thing – routine is even more important now than it was at the office. Set yourself fixed coffee and lunch breaks and make sure to eat proper meals. Keep up with your other rituals as well, whether that means going for a walk after work each day or calling your parents every Friday. And don’t forget to get plenty of sleep – it’s just as important for your health as self-discipline.
Don’t let yourself go
Even if you don’t have any video calls scheduled, don’t work in pajamas or your dressing gown. People have actually been proven to work more efficiently when they wear a work-appropriate outfit and do their hair as they usually would when going to the office. And if you don’t, your boss is sure to pick that moment for a surprise video call.
Proximity to your own fridge is another familiar temptation, but do your best to resist – the lockdown will end at some point, and you’re going to want to fit into your favorite pair of jeans when it does. If you have to snack, stick to fruit for a burst of vitamin C. And make sure to have a balanced lunch. If you work for seven hours without a break and then consume the contents of the fridge to stave off starvation, a food coma is the inevitable result. So keep your meals regular and be sure to drink plenty of water.
Enjoy your time at home and stay healthy!
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