Can I just say I have been waiting for 21 days to write this post on 5 tips for working from home? Why three weeks, you ask? Apparently, that’s how long it takes for you to form a habit and stick to it too! So, since I finally finished that timeline, this post is here to be read.
First things first. It’s with a good deal of joy that I announce to you all that I have started working from home, full time. (Takes a moment to do a happy jig)! Yes, after many years of working on freelance projects and part-time jobs, I finally decided to take the plunge and accept this role that I must say I am enjoying thoroughly!
It’s not easy to find a job that combines your passion with flexible hours and decent compensation. To be honest, I had stopped looking for anything along those lines a few years ago. So when this came along, it was natural for me to think twice before saying ‘Yes’, because I knew, for certain, that this would mean a huge shift from my comfort zone, where I’d settled for the last 9 years or so.
Just give me a moment to soak in this feeling of happiness.
AAAHHH! Now, back to what we were talking about!
So, the thing about working from home means that while you have the advantage of avoiding traffic, pollution and travel time, it does imply a huge number of adjustments and modifications in your routine. With a little effort and some smart planning, we can make that a seamless and comfortable shift.
Tip # 1
- In my role, I discuss with my team members the night before on the tasks that need to be done on the morrow. We also have some duties that get assigned for an entire week, so it’s best to have a scheduler or a planner such as Google Calendar to note your tasks.
- Once I know what the tasks are, I cross-check the items on my personal schedule for the day (folding laundry/ cooking lunch/ airing the sheets) and prioritise them on the basis of what needs to be done first.
- Waking up early can be a significant advantage in this regard, as it seems like you gain an extra hour to do all the work you want done! This naturally means you go to bed early as well.
Tip # 2
Set a schedule
- Decide on set times of the day for each task, almost as you would if you were going in to work at an office.
- Finish the heavy-duty tasks first in the early part of the day when your energy levels are high.
- Relegate lighter jobs to the afternoon, post lunch, when your eyelids are likely to start drooping.
- If your work is connected to a laptop or a desktop, pick a spot in the house and make sure you start working there at the same time, everyday. Making it a habit ensures your items are all in one place, saving you time and energy.
Tip # 3
Turn off distractions but allow for interruptions
- If you work online, do not open multiple tabs at once, unless you need to use the copy-paste feature between two or three windows.
- Resolutely turn off, mute or snooze notifications from Google hangouts/ Skype/ Facebook messenger/ Whatsapp. Better yet, put up a status that says ‘Working’ or ‘Busy’. People will understand.Trust me.
- If you can, avoid personal calls during working hours. Politely ask friends/family to call you back if it is nothing urgent.
- I work partly in social media so I have to be online while I am working. I solved this problem of distraction by creating a separate business account for my Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, so I would not get distracted by news feed or notifications. It’s been a blessing in more ways than I can count.
- If you have a young child at home, you will need to work around his/her schedule. Ensure that the employer knows about the situation and is okay with your being available at odd times during the day.
- Work-from-home moms WILL be interrupted by the courier service, the telephone ringing, the handyman showing up or the friendly neighbour right in the middle of a deadline. However, instead of losing your cool, look at it as the required 5-minute break that you would have taken. Shift the perspective just a bit.
Tip # 4
Take well-timed breaks
- Working with clear-cut deadlines and objectives works very well for me. If I know that I need to complete Task ‘A’ within 30 minutes, I do it. I use the timer on my phone to monitor my progress and feel a sense of accomplishment when it’s done.
- Every half hour to one hour, I leave my desk and stretch, walk around, grab some salted almonds or a healthy snack. This gives the mind and the body the much-needed refreshment to handle more tasks.
- Have a bottle of water or green tea on your desk so that you stay hydrated. Don’t forget to take restroom breaks amidst your working schedule.
Tip # 5
Do one thing that you love everyday
- When all’s done you realise that doing one thing not connected to work is mandatory for a healthy perspective towards your job.
- Find something you love- blogging, reading a book, swimming, taking a walk, playing badminton, writing in your journal, singing, aerobics, Zumba, yoga- to take the edge off the workday.
- If the thing that you love can help get you out of the house, even better. Staying indoors all day is not healthy, in any case, so do get some sunshine and some fresh air in your lungs regularly.
*Psst! This article says it actually takes you 66 days to 12 months to form a new habit, conclusively. No way was I going to wait that long to post this though. I’m sure you understand. Right? Tell me you do!