I’ve been working from home for the past 4 years. First I was a remote employee, now I’m doing freelance which is a completely different vibe. However, when working remotely my amazing manager and colleagues have shared their “working from home tips” with me over the years. I was definitely inspired by what I’ve learned on my own, and by what I’ve been advised… Though the first and only rule should be, you do you!
Why an article then you might think? Well because it’s always reassuring to read about productivity tricks because where to start right?
I was basically a Carrie Bradshaw in the making. Or so I thought.
But the actual truth in my opinion is : try things out, find a routine if you can but don’t freak out if days don’t look the same, if you’re not as productive as last week, if sometimes you find it hard to be motivated, if you find the line between personal and professional gets blurry or if you find yourself putting makeup on at 5.30pm because you haven’t left the house. It’ll get easier, and you’ll eventually find what works and what doesn’t work for you.
When I got this job where I’d work remotely, I thought “This is the dream. I can work on my computer from my couch in my pyjamas and have coffee all day long and not have to socialize with colleagues I don’t even find funny and…” I was basically a Carrie Bradshaw in the making. Or so I thought. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years…
- Working from home is working, period.
This is key. What it means is, no your friends can’t pop around for tea so you have to make things clear for your friends, family etc. Working from home is great and it might look like heaven to those who don’t, but it’s still work. Let’s say you’ve decided to work roughly between 8am and 5pm for example, you’re as unavailable as they are. Why? Because you’re at work. Just so happens that work is located in your home.
- Get dressed. Or don’t.
Working in my pyjamas seemed like an absolute luxury and I believe it has to do with the fact that I hate waking up. I’m 29 and still struggling. In a way, keeping your PJ’s on means you don’t have to face the world the same way than when you get dressed, drive or commute to GO to work. You’re up but you’re still in the warm comfort of your own home, drinking coffee out of your own mug, wearing something comfortable.
Well, I hate keeping my PJs to work. Which in a way makes sense when you read this sentence doesn’t it? Would you wear your pyjamas to work? That’s what I thought.
However a friend of mine just loves it, and it does not affect her productivity at all, or only in a good way I reckon. I did try to of course because of this romantic vision I had and to be honest, I still have massive FOMO that I’m not one of those people who enjoy working in loungewear. I like to get dressed, wash my face, sometimes even put makeup on and then I head out to…my work space which is basically my living room. Though I have a proper office in there with a proper chair which is very important to me. It sets my mood and helps me realize that I have to get shit done!
- Structure your day…
Try to start around the same time everyday, set a time to eat a proper meal for lunch and try to finish work like you’d stop working if you were in an office because everyone’s going home so why stay late if you’ve done what needed to be done. Of course in some jobs, you could always work, always do more, and find it difficult to actually stop. When I started my remote job, I was extremely committed to the mission and wanted to be sure I was working enough. I did not know when to stop and I’d end up at my computer at 8 or 9pm just refreshing my emails, checking projects that we’d be working on, trying to think of groundbreaking ideas… Let me tell you, I did not have one single good idea at 8pm on a friday staring at my computer. Basically, I found it difficult to stop working without feeling guilty so I told my manager. She helped me to set tasks and to structure my day but also, and that’s the main thing I guess, I knew she trusted me to do a good job. The only problem was, I wasn’t trusting myself. That’s a whole different issue BUT to help with that feeling, making lists, creating a routine and try to avoid procrastination really helped. So I started working fro 8am-ish to 6pm with a lunch break in the middle and when my partner would come home, I knew it was time to close all the tabs on my computer and put it away. I also disabled work emails notifications from 6pm so I wouldn’t be tempted to check and eventually answer. It’s a bit more difficult to do that as a freelancer because I only depend on myself but I try to stick to a real routine because it sets you up for success I think. There’s a time to work and a time not to, own it.
- …but be flexible
If you have a doctor’s appointment, need to catch up with a friend or just suddenly want to get your hair cut you don’t have to take a day off. Enjoy! It’s one of the perks of working from home, you’ll finish work a bit later that day and that’s that. Allow yourself to make the most out of this situation. Also, working from home can get lonely so when there’s an opportunity for me to head out and talk to people, I take it!
- Don’t forget to eat
I don’t eat breakfast though I really want to make it a new habit, but it means that if I realize at 3pm that I haven’t eaten anything, it’s bad. Set an alarm for your lunch break and stick to it. Don’t eat in front of your computer. Try and think about the meals you’re going to have during the week when you go grocery shopping. I hate cooking lunch for myself, so I tend to either eat something that me and my partner had the night before, or have something like a soup with a bit of cheese and a fruit for example. I’ve also recently discovered mackerel in mustard sauce which is quite nice… Ha, well, I’m sure you’ll do better than that, I’m the worst at finding things to eat in the flat and I don’t really know how to cook from scratch so it’s a work in progress! The main thing is to make time for lunch. People who work in a office take the time and it’s not being more productive in my opinion to eat a sandwich in 5 minutes in front of your computer. Take a step back, refresh your mood and ideas, come back to work.
Hope these first few tips helped and good luck with the working from home thing. Don’t feel guilty by the way if people don’t get that working from home is actual work, it’s getting more and more popular these days, they’ll understand it eventually. You just sit back and enjoy!