Or from a cafe, the library, and just about anywhere you can take a device or pen and paper. The world of work is changing and that means now more than ever before, people are entering flexible working arrangements. So if you’re working or studying remotely, here’s a few tips and tricks to help you make the most of it.
1. Get dressed
Okay, so this sounds like a weird one but trust me! It’s essential. I’d hope that if you were planning to head out of the house this is something that would be on your list anyway, but if you’re working from home it can seem like a perfect opportunity to waltz around in nothing but your finest pair of pyjamas. There’s a fine line between enjoying the comforts of being in your own space and getting so comfortable that you slip into sloth mode. Getting dressed and following all your usual morning routines will help you get into the mindset of being at work even if you’re not heading into an office.
2. Write a list of priorities
If you aren’t bound by a start and finish time, or have a schedule that’s all over the place, it can be a great idea to set out a list of tasks to complete before the end of your ‘day’ despite the hours you’re working. There are plenty of great ways to track your progress on tasks. You could colour code them with a traffic light system (green as complete, yellow as underway and red as urgent or on hold), you could try the Bullet Journal method, or even digitise your to-do list by using a tool like Trello.
3. Establish a dedicated work zone
Never work from your bed. It stops you from separating a rest zone from your activity zone. Whenever I’ve tried it, I would find myself agitated after spending a whole day in bed only to wind up back in bed after a long day feeling like I was still “at work”. It’s also just bad for your back. Find a quiet well-lit space with a table and chair that allows you to sit comfortably upright. Your dining table might be perfect, or you may even find a spot at a cafe, library, uni common room or a picnic table at the park. Here’s a great checklist you can follow to assess how ergonomic (efficient, comfortable and safe) your desk setup is.
4. Schedule in breaks
When you get into a flow of working, it can be easy to dive so deep into a task that you don’t come up for air until hours later. I’ve definitely caught myself sitting down to get something done and being surprised that it was dark outside by the time I was finished. You could set a reminder on your phone to do a lap of the block or make a cup of tea every hour or so, or download one of many free apps that will prompt you to take a break.
5. Stay in touch with colleagues and classmates
While it can be great to have some quiet time and separation from a busy office, school or university setting, working from home can get pretty lonely. Whether you work remotely on a permanent basis or once in a while, it’s important to reach out to people you’re collaborating with throughout the day. This gives your team mates some visibility over what you might be working on when you’re not around. It can also alleviate that feeling of cabin fever you get when you’re stuck with nothing but your own thoughts all day. This could look like exchanging a few funny GIFs via messenger (my favourite way to keep in touch) or picking up the phone for a quick check in at the start and end of the day. Chatting via video call can also help you feel like you’ve had some quality human time too.
6. Set clear boundaries
Working from home (or from anywhere else) can start to blur the lines between what’s leisure time and what’s work time. It can be really easy to either work way over time or forget to actually do the work you’re meant to be focussing on. Ensure you aren’t working more than a normal work day (about 8 hours), but equally, ensure that you are allowing yourself enough time to complete the work you need to get done. If you live in a shared house you could put up a ‘do not disturb’ sign during your work hours, choose to only answer work calls and texts, and avoid meeting friends or making appointments during your work hours, just as if you were in an office. Power through what needs to get finished and enjoy your down time when you’ve ticked off everything on your to-do list.