Working from home is something we’ve written about a lot in the past on the Design Range – and I’d highly recommend checking out some of those older articles. But today I’m going to do you the favour of distilling all of that wondrous information and run through my top ten list of tips to help those of you that are new to working from home.
The first few morning working from home you’ll stick to your standard routine and everything will be fine. Then on day three maybe you’ll realise you could have the computer booting up whilst your in the shower. Then on day four you’ll notice it switched on and maybe just check your emails before breakfast. Before you know it, sitting down at the computer is the very first thing you’re doing in the morning and you’re finally getting round to having breakfast and a shower around 2pm.
Have a morning routine and stick to it. Do not even think about work until you have showered, eaten and brushed your teeth.
The same goes for finishing work too. When the day is done, it’s DONE.
Pyjamas are comfy, and you’re not going out anyway, so what’s the point in getting dressed properly? It’s just more washing to do.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all convinced ourselves that this is fine. It’s not. There will come a moment where you catch yourself in front of a mirror, in your pyjamas that now have a bolognese sauce stain from… when did you last have bolognese? Was it last night? No… god when was that? How long have I been wearing these clothes… what day is it?
Now you’re working from home, you’ll no doubt have noticed that the kitchen is right there…
The temptation to snack is one thing I’m certain you’ll have noticed, but something you might not have realised is that you no longer need to have nasty meal deal sandwiches and pot noodles for lunch. You can actually make yourself something fresh, nutritious and delicious – and you absolutely should! I’ve found that shifting gears mid day and taking a little time out to cook something actually feels a lot more like a break than lunchtime did in the office.
A word of warning though – just remember this is your lunch break, and not an excuse to try and get that michelin star you’ve been dreaming of. If you find yourself making fresh pasta dough or shaving a truffle, maybe reign it in a bit – this isn’t actually your job remember.
It may be the case that you need no motivation to go work out, working from home may even make things easier for you, but for me, now that I’m at home it feels like leaving to go exercise is somehow eating into my work day. Plus the nearest gym is about 20 minutes away, so I’ve lost 40 minutes in travel before I even do anything.
So what’s the alternative? Do nothing? No. You’ll get well fat and nobody will want to kiss you.
There are loads of options really, but at it’s core it just comes down to setting aside the time. It may work out that incorporating some exercise into your morning routine is the best way to go, or maybe it’s what you do to give yourself a break and hit restart. Maybe it’s how you reward yourself for a days hard work… although I’ll don’t think I’ll ever understand that logic. It’s what works best for you, just get a system in place.
Don’t think you can run a successful business with your laptop on your knee sat on the couch in front of the TV.
The temptations surrounding you when working from home are insane. I mean think about it, this is literally the space you have created for yourself to chill out in, relax and just entertain yourself. Those things are generally not conducive to work.
I’m sure there are people who can do it, who can sit there with a box set on and just churn out work in their lazy boy, but those people are wizards and you shouldn’t trust in their dark magics.
So give yourself a set space that is designed just for work. A space that you can leave when you’re done and is away from any obvious distractions. Now for most people this is a spare room, a place where they can physically shut the door and then they’re in work mode (a good message not only to yourself, but also to anyone you live with). That’s not always practical I know – an actual home office is a luxury that not everyone can realistically give themselves.
“I’m sorry little Billy, but daddy needs your bedroom for work… you can live under the stairs now, just like Harry Potter! It’ll be fun!”
But it doesn’t really have to be a room. Just make it somewhere you only go when you’re working. A seat at the dinner table you only sit at during work hours, hell maybe you could even schooch in under the stairs yourself. Just try not to be in the main rooms you relax in, lounge and bedroom (bedroom especially!), but if you have to, just make sure you have your back to the tv.
If you work with a team or with a regular client make sure you’re easy to contact. Working from home puts a big barrier between you and others, so you want to do as much as you can to minimise that. That may just be having your phone next to you (and switched on) during work hours, or checking your emails on the hour. You might go a bit further than that and set up some kind of chat system like Slack or Google Hangouts. I use both of these when I working with agencies, and now I’m at home I make sure it’s in the corner of my screen at all times.
Similar to making yourself available is just keeping in touch with clients and team members. With clients maybe send them an update on how work is progressing, it might seem a bit odd if you’ve not actually finished something, or reached a milestone, but no client will begrudge a quick email letting them know you’re working on their project and everything is going well.
If you’re working in a team, maybe be a bit less formal and just have a chat now and then. Not to the extent that it eats into your day in any major way, but just tell them about the movie you watched last night or ask how they’re getting on. Just the kind of stuff you would say if they were sat next to you in the office. When you’re working remotely there can be a feeling that all contact needs to be official and work related – I’d get over that. Have a chat.
I have no idea what it is about being at home, but I drink way more coffee when I’m here. Maybe it’s because I’d have to offer the whole office a brew if I was making one for myself, or having the knowledge that if I used the last of the milk I’d have to go out and get more, but I just did not drink nearly as much as I am doing now.
What I’ve started doing now is grabbing a pint of water every time I make a coffee, and I can’t get another until I’ve finished the water. This has helped me out a lot, a feel much better (in my back especially) for having all the extra fluid, plus I get loads of extra breaks now with trips to the bathroom.
When your office is your home and your home is your office there is double the chance that mess will build up. The great thing about working from an office is that you can leave one mess (at least for a little while) and go somewhere else for some respite. I’m guilty of this. When I’m working on a project I have sketches and notes all over my desk at work, at the end of the day I leave it and go to my (sometimes) tidy home. You can’t do that when you work from home, it just becomes one big mess, so you need to put in the extra effort to keep things tidy. Clean your desk, wash the pots, file office stuff away, make your bed. Tidy up.
So I was working on my own and had no reason to talk so I wasn’t doing right? Then one day I get a call from a client and I answer the phone and it’s sawdust that comes out of my mouth – I can’t even speak. You know when you wake up and the first few words you say don’t sound like you because your vocal cords are getting all warmed up again? Yeah it was like that but even worse. It took me maybe ten seconds to actually squeak out “hello”.
So solution – sing in the shower! Yes – it’s totally a good call, solves this problem, wakes you up and gets you thinking about what you’re going to do with all the money after you win the next season of X-Factor.