7 Ways To Make Working From Home Work For You
I first started working from home in my early 20s, fresh out of university with a degree in English, and secret lofty dreams of becoming a children’s author.
Instead, I was getting paid about $3 an hour to write about education, a reality television show I’d never watched, and the exciting benefits of playing bingo. I decided things had to change.
My next gig was for a start-up, for an old school friend and housemate. Naturally, our house became our office. At first, it was great.
While the majority of London woke up, bundled onto the Underground, and stood in silence for a dreary head-down commute — I was sound asleep and dreaming (probably of becoming a published children’s author).
At one minute before nine, I would wake up, jump out of bed straight onto my Ikea wicker chair with no seat padding and begin work.
I’m ashamed to say that back then I was a smoker. So after making a bucket of tea, I would roll my first cigarette of the day and turn on my laptop. My boss’s bedroom was in the attic, and the smoke and subsequent smell would drift up there, much to his horror.
(Ex-boss, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. Although there was that time you wouldn’t let me watch Wimbledon with you during work hours, so — evens?)
Anyway, I digress.
During that time, I learned a lot about working from home. For example, one hazy Thursday I looked to my boss and said, “have we left the house this week?” And he had no idea.
That was my first lesson.
1. Get A Change Of Scenery (If You Can)
These days I live in an apartment block where luckily for me a high proportion of my neighbors either own their own business, get to work from home, or just generally keep odd hours. This means I can get a lot of human interaction without having to venture into the outside world.
While this is good for my sanity, there are plenty of other reasons why I should drag myself out of the door from time to time in the middle of the day:
- My dog needs a bathroom break
- I need to stretch my legs
- I have an urgent desire for ‘outside’ food
You might have different reasons, like answering the nagging call of a treadmill or attending an inspiring workshop put on by someone in your industry. It might even be a solitary walk in the woods. Whatever it is that makes you leave, try to do it at least once a day.
The vitamin D injection will do you good, and a change of scenery can reinvigorate you if work is beginning to drag.
During this current period of uncertainty you may not have the luxury of leaving your home, so why not take some time to find exercise videos to do from your home or garden? There are so many videos on YouTube to try out and the best thing is — they’re free!
2. Set Some Boundaries… And Stick To Them
This is important. It’s all too easy to continue working way beyond the time you’d do so in a ‘normal’ job — much to the horror of your housemates, partner, or family.
- Carve out a workstation. Don’t move your laptop from bed to the kitchen and onto the sofa. Choose a designated work area and stay there. This will help you to separate work and play.
- Choose your working hours. Decide the hours you want to work and inform your colleagues and your manager so that everyone is aware when you’re available. Which leaves me to my next point…
- Switch off. Once your work hours are over, shut down your computer and walk away. Don’t leave your computer running because those notifications might call you back in, just like a mermaid’s siren song.
Try to be strict on yourself, or enlist the help of a family member or friend to help keep you in check.
3. Use Emojis To Show How You Feel
If you’re communicating with office dwellers, in fact with anyone using just text, it’s very easy to be misunderstood. Even with close friends on Whatsapp, the absence of tone can sometimes lead to confusion on the receiving end.
The huge range of emojis at our fingertips in Skype, Slack, and Flock, can help clarify what you’re trying to say, as well as the sentiment behind it.
My emoji use has skyrocketed since working from home. I’m lucky here at Namecheap to work with people from all over the world, and so when words smack up against the language barrier, a smiley face can help to confirm the meaning behind what I’m typing.
I use Emoji Keyboard, a handy Chrome extension where you can easily search for the Emoji you’re looking for. Just don’t go overboard, too many might look a little strange!
4. Get On the Phone
Any young-uns reading might not like this idea, but getting on the phone, or Skype, or Zoom, and having a real conversation is often much easier when communicating with clients or colleagues.
Calls give you the chance to clarify the meaning behind puzzling project briefs, as well as ask or answer any burning questions.
Make sure you have a notebook to hand to jot anything useful down, as well as any questions or actions for later.
If you’re asked to attend a video call, be mindful of what you’re wearing. If you’ve got a shirt on top, but just your undies down below, take care not to stand up mid-call!
Be mindful of your surroundings and if possible move to an area where you have a blank wall as your background – this will minimize distractions and help your coworkers concentrate on what you have to say.
5. Use Technology To Support Your Work
We’re incredibly lucky to live in a time with exciting technology popping up daily. From time-tracking apps to project management apps, and note-taking apps to accounting apps, it’s never been easier to work from home.
On the other side of the coin, when you’re just starting out there are tech distractions everywhere, things that you just don’t have in the office. Sliding from your desk to the sofa to binge-watch Real Housewives is all too easy, as is picking up the Nintendo instead of preparing your accounts.
It’s your job to build up the discipline to ignore these diversions. Check out our blog post on the Best Digital Tools for Productivity to discover technology to suit your home working.
6. Develop A Routine
Whether it’s starting the day with a cup of tea, or writing Morning Pages, establishing a routine is the key to success when working from home.
- Start with what you’re wearing. If you have chosen to stay in your pajamas, your head will still be in relaxation mode. I’m not saying dress up in a suit, but instead try wearing something you’d be happy meeting a coworker in.
- Give yourself a break in between the start of work and lunch. Make a coffee, put on some washing, do a quick Yoga with Adriene video, anything to get you out of that chair and away from your computer.
A solid routine will contribute to your overall success and happiness when working from home.
7. Remember That Everyone Is Different
We’re all from different backgrounds, different childhoods, and have hidden feelings about the world. Therefore the way we think is going to be different.
It’s too easy to write articles that say working from home sucks and it’s impossible to be creative, and too easy to write that it’s a dream working in your pajamas.
Everyone is different. Some are extroverts, some are introverts and some people are ambiverts. I’m an ambivert, which means while I’m comfortable being sociable, I also like being on my own.
After a few weeks of working from home, you’ll soon know how much outside contact you need to be happy.
It may be that you like to work from a WeWork type office for a couple of days or in a café, or the library. You could find that you’re perfectly at peace working from your bed.
What works for some people might not work for others.
Why Not #CreateFromHome
Being stuck inside can be frustrating. Turn that frustration into something good and #CreateFromHome.
I hope that I’ve provided some insight to help make your work-from-home life as magical as it can be. Do you have any tips? If so, please share them below!