WORKING FROM HOME • OUR TOP TIPS
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
Working from home sounds quite dreamy, but in practice, it can become a bit of a nightmare. The forced lockdown in many countries imposed millions of people to work from their homes and the adaptation to this new lifestyle can be complicated.
But this aspect of work is one of the perks that entrepreneurs, creatives and other bloggers get when they shift from a more formal career working for a company. And to be honest with you, I wouldn't swap back.
So that's why I'm going to share my best tips to help those, not used to it, to appreciate it as much as I do and to make it productive.
Because it can be very easy to quickly lose motivation or to get your workday started. Working from home is a challenge, but soon you will master it.
Let's get it started !
Our Top Tips
1 - Set up your working space
It's been proved that a good working environment tends to make people more productive.
Well, what's true for companies is also true at home. This is actually the first and probably most important step to take during this process of working from home.
You first should find the "perfect spot", that you will designate as your workspace.
Ideally, it would be better to have this area separated from your living or "fun" space, to help your mind identifying and processing this new area as a "work" area.
If you can't have a whole room as an office, do not worry. Make a little space in your living or bedroom for your new workspace, by putting a desk.
Or if you don't have enough space, favourise a large table available in your home, the dining table usually works pretty well.
How to choose my spot ?
If possible, try to set up firstly your working spot close to a natural source of light, or add a lamp near your desk. Working in a clear space is important.
Secondly, get a comfortable chair.
If you don't have a proper desk chair, use a chair with a height adapted to the desk/table you are working on. If the height adjustments are impossible, as a plan B you can elevate your laptop with anything you have on hand : Big books, flat pillows...
The objective is to stay straight and not to force your upper body to bend forward. Also, add some pillows in your back if you don't have a straight chair's backrest.
Having a designated space with a desk and comfortable chair will help you to keep your motivation and concentration.
2 - Make your workspace more appealing
Once you have your tech set-up, then add some other comforts to make your workspace more appealing, to make it yours.
This could be your favourite candle, a comfortable chair cushion, pretty pictures on the wall around your desk, flowers, a little plant, organisational accessories, pens or notepads...
Whatever items make you feel happy and will make you want to sit in this space and stay there for the day.
This is your space, "cherish" it.
3 - Create a routine
One of the most important factors in motivating you to get work done at home is to add some structure around your day like you would have if you worked in an office environment.
This means setting your alarm clock in the morning at a specific time, having a morning routine, setting working hours and break times. It's basically recreating a classic working day, you are just in the comfort of your own home.
Here I can share with you mine. Obviously this won't fit for many people, as I don't have imposed hours from any company and I am only accountable to myself.
But you can adapt this one and create your own from it, depending on your working hours. This is just to give you an idea, this is not an exhaustive routine :
Between 7h30 - 8 am : Wake up gently
8 am to 9 am : Yoga Morning exercises + Breakfast + Getting ready (shower & getting dressed)
If you want some ideas concerning morning yoga exercises, we made a video about it on our Youtube channel, feel free to have a look here : Yoga Morning Flow. It only takes 10 minutes of your morning and give you some good energy to tackle the day ahead.
9 am : Start my workday in my home office
12h30 to 1 pm : Second yoga session, to break down the first part of the day and gives some fresh air to the brain.
I often practice a yoga workout proposed on the channel : Yoga with Adrienne. There is a large choice of video, suitable for any levels.
1 pm : Break for lunch
2 pm : Back to work
Between 6 and 7 pm : Turn off the computer and start enjoying some quality time. This can be reading, working out or simply enjoying a beer or a glass of wine after the long day you had.
We personally recommend you a nice and gentle workout, that stretch and relax your back and upper body, in order to fight against any stiffness you might feel at the end of the day : Yoga for the back.
Your schedule doesn’t need to be super strict, one of the greatest benefits of working home is the flexibility to change up some elements of your workday, in the limits of your company schedule of course.
4 - Stick to your traditional schedule
That's probably the point where I struggled the most when I started working for myself at home. I was working with no limits, sometimes during the whole evening. I was going to bed really late and, as a matter of fact, waking up late and getting all disoriented and destructured.
You have to learn this : Once the day is done, stop. Of course, if you want to finish your task do it, I know the feeling of frustration that it gives, but don't exceed an hour. Otherwise, you will get trap in a terrible loop and it's hard to come back to a healthy routine afterwards.
The "office" that is now at home, became so accessible and it's tempting to get back at work later : BUT DON'T, RESIST !
Working from home is already a challenge itself and needs a lot of adaptation, do not add yourself some extra shift and collect extra stress and fatigue.
5 - Remove distractions
Distractions are the enemy number one when you are working from home.
It is so easy to interrupt your work because you get distracted, whether it's remembering to put the laundry on, catching up on your favourite tv show or picking up your phone and getting lost on the different social media platforms.
Your home is supposedly your happy place, filled up with all your favourite things : TV, phone, pets, fridge...
And once you break your concentration, it takes up to half an hour to get fully focused again.
Therefore, minimising your distractions are essential for staying productive and not over stressing when the end of the day happens.
How to remove those distractions ?
For me, there are actually 3 important rules :
First, hide your phone and turn on the plane mode. Because every time a notification pops up on our screen, it's the easiest excuse to stop working and getting our attention to the phone. For those that need their phones to work, then just deactivate the notifications from any social media apps (or any distracting apps you have on your phone) and keep it only available for working purpose.
Second, set breaks throughout your day. That's something I started applying when I was a student. I was always working hours in a row and feeling completely smashed at the end of the day. And in the long run, you can't keep it on. So, I started imposing myself a 15 minutes break every 2 hours and it got way easier to get through the day and at the end of it, my brain wasn't completely scrambled and I could keep it going.
Last but not least, if your partner or children are home with you, try to keep yourself away and isolated in a whole room just for yourself. If you can't, ground some rules with the persons living with you, in order to reduce as much as possible verbal exchanges while you are working.
6 - Make To-Do lists
I have a bit of a confession for you, I am a little obsessed with making lists.
I got lists for everything, morning check-lists, productive habits check-lists, grocery lists...
Since we started this digital nomad lifestyle, we found it crucial to keep ourselves in a routine and for that, we need some time management tools and making list is one of them.
To sum up : Lists are life. Bullet journaling works pretty well too. If you don't know the concept, here's a video that will explain it better than me : Bullet journal set up.
How to make your to-do list ?
I advised you first to write down your to-do list the day before, like this you don't waste time when you start your workday, trying to remember everything that needs to be done. It can be an extra source of stress as well to start your day by this activity.
Second, don't overfill those lists, keep them realistic and doable. There is nothing more frustrating and discouraging than a to-do list half done at the end of your day.
And to finish, categorise every task in your to-do list. Below the list of tasks, classify them according to the level of urgency and importance - Graphic below.
You will see that organizing them will help you prioritize them throughout your day and getting the most important done first helps to increase your satisfaction and motivation.
It's called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix and it's been an incredible management tool for me, even before I started working from home.
If you are interested, here's a link for a free downloadable spreadsheet of this to-do list with the matrix.
One last thing, once one task it's done, cross it or highlight it.
Visually, it gives a nice sensation when, at the end of the day, you can see what's been done. You made it ! It helps to stay motivated in the long term.
To finish, I have one last kind remember for you : Do not be too hard on yourself.
When you work from home, there are going to be days when your schedule goes out the window and your intentions to get through your to-do list fall to the wayside.
It's okay to feel down, we are just humans, there are good days and there are bad ones.
So take a deep breath and relax. Tomorrow is another day.
Because we like remembering you the positive aspect of things, here's a little list of advantages about working from your home.
↠ Dress up the way you want
A lot of entrepreneurs or bloggers recommend people to keep dressing up "nicely" even though you work at home. If this technique works for some people and keeps them in a better mindset, I actually enjoy spending the day working in my yoga pant and a large shirt.
I think there isn't an "ultimate" way to behave while working from home.
Just do what suits you the best and makes you feel better. If putting on a "traditional" office outfit helps you, just do it. But if you don't, don't feel guilty and embrace being productive while looking lazy. Who cares as long as the job gets done, right ?
↠ Gain of time
This working from home is a massive gain of time for us, first in preparation.
We can skip the make- up process, hair preparation or shaving session for those gentlemen and get some precious minutes back for us.
Of course, the goal here isn't to neglect ourselves, but to save ourselves a lot of time from the bathroom.
Instead, you can get some extra sleep or set up a nice morning routine, like doing some gentle exercises and having a proper breakfast.
↠ The occasion of getting proper meals
Most important meal of the day, however, we tend to skip easily during the week : Breakfast. Because we are in the rush, we barely make time for more than a coffee or tea before getting at work.
Well, here there isn't any excuse anymore to get yourself a proper breakfast. This is the perfect occasion to offer yourself a nutritious moment. It puts you in a better mood and helps to get through the morning, without craving from 10h30 am.
Make yourself a nice bowl of yoghurt and fruits, a smoothie, some toasts, whatever you would enjoy. There is no need to rush, you can even keep eating it while being at your improvised "office", no one is here to fordid you.
This works for lunch as well. Too much people skip their lunch break to keep working or not to feel "full" and sleepy during the afternoon.
But, this is a really unhealthy habit, that makes us overeat at dinner and we end up going to bed with too much food to process, which participates in weight gain and reduces the quality of your sleep.
You don't need to make a feast, just a salad with fresh veggies and some nuts will keep you nourish and in better shape to work through the afternoon.
The lunch break is also fundamental to give our brain a moment to breathe, to process half of the day and to get back at work with a better mood. Taking, reasonable, breaks increases your productivity.
At the end of the day, if you skip any break possibilities, you will work a couple of hours more, but you will be way less productive at the end.
Don't confuse productivity with being busy.
↠ Bye-bye dear traffic
For once, you won't waste an obscene amount of time in the traffic, in your own car or in public transports. Besides, for those you don't have a proper parking spot from their companies, you can say goodbye to this anxious routine to find one and risking to late be at work.
How amazing is that ? Gaining all the time back for us, both in the morning and in the evening. Without saying that's a big stressing part of our day erased here. Enjoy this valuable time for something else.
↠ When the day is done, you are really done
How many of us are so happy to be done with their day, but still have to get back in the car and face the traffic back home ?
And once you are home, you have to worry about the laundry, making food, getting a shower, jumping into some comfy clothes, preparing your outfit for the next day... And once you are done it's actually 9 pm.
Well, here you are already home when you stopped, you are already in your comfy pants and if you don't shower tonight, well you can still do it tomorrow morning right ?
You got TIME.
See ? At the end of the day, you just gained more quality time for yourself throughout the day and got way fewer sources of stress. It's the ultimate occasion to create some healthy habits here, seize it !
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Hope you enjoyed this little guide of ours and that it will help you to face those complicated times.
Thanks for your valuable time, stay safe & stay home.