Many people are going have to work from home in the coming weeks and months. I’ve been working from home for about eight years, so here are the lessons that I’ve learnt that can help you shortcut the learning curve as you fight the urge to watch crappy morning tv and binging on chocolate for breakfast…
You will be amazed by how much stuff you can get done starting earlier than you would have done from your normal clock in at nine o’clock. At the moment, I have a human alarm clock that wakes me up at around about six o’clock anyway and she wants feeding and she wants entertainment and Hey Duggie and anything else on TV. But the advantage there for me is that no matter what, whether she’s going to nursery or whether she’s staying at home, I can wake up at six, seven o’clock in the morning and hit the ground running – making content for my YouTube Channel.
Even before my stepdaughter came into my life, I still got up at six o’clock in the morning, let the world wake up around me, grabbed my life saving massive cup of tea and focused in on that days to-do-list.
I find at that time in the morning, you could be the most motivated, and most rested that you will be all day. Time to hit the floor running, tackle the things that you need to do, organize your day!
The sooner you start, the sooner those creative juices can tackle what you need to tackle.
Now, if you’re like me, it might just be the very first thing you do is tidy up the things around you. I’m one of those people that needs a tidy environment work in. So I’ll get up, I’ll make sure that all of the dishes are done, I have a nice cup of tea, I clean the living room, and then I can sit down and then I’m focused because if I’m setting that at eight, nine o’clock in the morning, my brain would be like, “Whoa, I need to pick that up,” and “Oh, you need toast or whatever,” whilst other people might dive straight into their hardest task and get it out the way, knowing that it’s all easier for the rest of the day.
Pretend You Are Going To An Office
There’s that mental block for the first two to three months when you’re you get to work from home where you’re like, “Oh yeah, I’m home,” For love for all the Tea and Coffee in the morning, make sure that you’re in the right mindset.
If you can set it in your head a set time, you switch into work mode or there’s a set chair that you sit in or there’s a set area that you go to, as soon as you know that you’re in work mode, you can focus much more. Rather than, Oh, just sit down and I’ll have my cup of tea, I’ll watch GMTV, I’ll flip through the morning news, now it’s 11 o’clock, now you’ve wasted half the morning. Getting the right mindset. This also includes getting dressed. You can’t just sit there in your PJ’s all day, you need to act like you have any other job.
Get up, get wash, get dressed, brush your teeth and then put yourself in your mindset because then that way you’ve prepared your brain to work.
Structure Your Work Day
Whether you’re in retail, whether you’re in an office, whether you’re in any other job, there will be some form of to do list, whether it’s from your manager or whether it’s from yourself. This structure is the thing you need to inject into your working from home life, that will allow you to accomplish some things throughout the day. For me, I have a to do list that I write on my desktop and they have set days Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc etc
I know that that’s the thing that I need to achieve that day. If I want to bleed into other days and get more done than I can do so, and it shuffles stuff up through that list and by the end of the week I have a little bit more free time to myself, but at least I know that as long as I do those three or five things that that same day I’m on top of my workload, for don’t do those five things. I know I’m behind my workload, these are the things that helped structure me.
For you, it might be your Google calendar. You can set tasks in there, like blocking out time to bulk record YouTube videos, you can have set times, you can have recurring things, you can have your computer alert you when you are five, 10, 15, 20 minutes away from it and even remind you to do them. You can even set your own lunch break so you’ve got a pattern and a routine.
Set A Designated Work From Home Area
This could just be a set work chair or a set place on your dining table or a set room in your house, reset corner of your living room, but a dedicated space helps you click into that mindset, it has everything around you.
I am very lucky that I can work from home and we’re in a three bedroom house. Which gives me the very precious space, the home office! It makes my YouTuber life a little easier as I’ve already got my YouTube filming set set up so I can record in front of it, I can talk in front of it. There is an L shape sofa that I sit on an edits and maybe watch the rolling news, with the TV which is literally just there. But because I have a dedicated efficient workspace, you’ll be amazed how quickly your brain turns on rather than always sitting in the same place on your sofa, whether your Netflix and chilling or whether you’re working.
You need to dedicate a space where you brain can turn on.
Just like they say, if you go to bed and there’s a TV in your bedroom, your brain will associate the TV in staying awake rather than going to bed. You need workplace hygiene, to help you work at home properly, as well as sleep hygiene to help you sleep at night properly.
“Work From Home” Doesn’t Have To Mean “Staying At Home”
I know this can be hard right now, (early 2020), but in an ideal world you’ll get a chance to go out, make sure that you take your laptop with you! Coffee shops, parks, woodlands… you could be anywhere as long as you have a wifi enabled device!
Or if you don’t have to take your laptop, you can take a notepad and just write things down. Just get out of the bubble.
At this point in time I understand that that may be hard, but if you’ve got a balcony or if you’ve got a back garden, as long as you keep yourself in a reasonable safe distance, then you can still do it. Plus, let’s be honest, social distancing still works when you’re working. I know that I prefer not to have people around me when I’m working because if people talk at me whiles thinking it gets me frustrated and annoyed. if I’m sat out in my backyard and all I can hear is the birds and the wind, it’s fantastic for my mental health.
Take the advantage of strolling to your local corner shop that five, 10 minute break, that fresh air, that mind reset because if you’re frustrated on a task, you’ll be amazed what a little bit of eye distancing can do.
Have you ever heard of the phrase of just like computer blindness or task blindness – where you’ve been staring at the same thing for 30 minutes, 40 minutes, an hour, and no matter how much you look at it, it seems to be doing the same thing or it’s the same trouble. You step away from it and you come back, you’d be amazed how quickly you can find that jigsaw piece that you were missing from the puzzle just two minutes ago.
Make It Hard To Muck About On Social Media
Now this has become more and more prevalent in the last few years because everybody can flip through their phone or everybody can just tab over to Facebook or Instagram or take talk or whatever. I know from focusing on editing a video and it hits a hot spot, it can drive me off to Facebook out of frustration, but I’ll come back to it.
But if you can eliminate those entirely and just focus on the thing that you’re doing, maybe even turn off the computer, move your phone away, putting your phone on silent, put it in the up side of the room, whatever, if you can not give yourself the chance to distract yourself, you will get so much more done.
That also means don’t distract yourself with TV of your favorite thing on TV. So don’t sit there and watch Game of Thrones episodes if you really into them because you won’t end up working, you’ll end up watching Joffrey get killed.
Commit To Doing More Things
You’ll be amazed, working from home, how quickly you can spin through some things that may have taken longer in an office.
When you’re in the office environment and there’s other people around, you might take a little longer to the coffee machine or to the water machine where you might every now and then glance over and see someone in another cubicle or stare at the clock or have a look at the call center, whatever.
I tend to find that you can actually do a couple more tasks than you would have done in a more social setting because you’re much more focused. If you ever hit that, the zone and then just kept piling through work, you’ll be amazed how much additional work you’ll get once you’re in the zone when Billy is not there to pass your chocolate or to ask you this question or to point at something to make you chuckle, that throws you out of the zone entirely.
Work When You Are Your Most Productive
Nobody turns on the computer at seven o’clock in the morning and it sprints all the way through their work in the zone, in that niche all day.
We all have our ebbs and flows! We all have moments when we know that we work better, maybe you’re a little bit more groggy in the morning, you don’t want to talk to humans in the morning, but you’re happy to edit videos and take your phone calls in the afternoon.
Maybe you’re not a morning person at all and forego a morning start up because you know that if you got up at nine, 10 o’clock you could work till two o’clock at night/in the morning, and you get much more work done.
Be honest with yourself, if you know that you’re lagging about two o’clock and maybe even you need a nap between two and four then allow yourself to do so, as long as you make sure that you allow yourself to work when you know that you’re most focused at eight o’clock in the afternoon.
Set yourself up for success based on what you know about yourself. If you know that you’re going to be wading through your brain fog, avoid that fog.
Save Phone Call For The Afternoon
I find that in the morning I’m less sociable and so are many others. So what I do is I make sure that I do all my solitary tasks in the morning or after the normal nine to five crowd so therefore, I know at six o’clock in the morning till about 10, 11 o’clock, no one’s really gonna pick up the phone and at 11 o’clock they’re thinking about lunch so I’m gonna start my phone calls at one o’clock in the afternoon.
It also means that it’s seven o’clock in the evening, once again, they’re not going to be there to pick up the phones. So what I do is I allocate that time for around about one o’clock in the afternoon to about five, six o’clock in the afternoon for those phone calls. Not only will my brain be more awake, but I’ll also grind you through so much work in the morning that be ready for a chat.
Keep Your Brain Busy
How many times have you gone to the gym and once you finally started at the gym, you got there, you finally got on the treadmill, but the entry feeling good and you wanna keep going, but the interstate, you sit down and you give yourself five minutes, you’ve seized up and you’re ready to go home. Oh, that’s it, you’re done for the day. I find that’s the same with working at home.
Keep your brain always on something, anything.
What I do in between my pieces of work is that I’ll do a task and if my work brain needs a rest, I’ll go and do the washing up or I’ll go into the clothes washing or I’ll prep my tea for the evening. The reason for that is because my brain continues to stay busy, it continues to spin and spin. It’s like a perpetual motion machine, but because your brain’s been so active, if you used to sit down and turn your brain off, it might be harder to restart that spinning.
Keep your brain going even if you’re just changing it up to make sure that you’re not bored. Edit your stuff in the morning, go for lunch, plan what your Tea happens to be, do your washing, do your hoovering, look after that kid, make sure you’re playing with their toys.
But that way you’re spinning plus by the time you get to bed, you’ve outbrained yourself and you’ll be more than happy to fall asleep, but don’t stop buzzing because the more your brain’s going, the more I find I get done because I’m not having to re-rev that engine to get started each and every time, I’m not doing a task for 15 minutes and then sitting down for 15 minutes and then having a restart, it’s quite consciously flowing all of the time and that also might be that I listen to podcasts while as I’m doing the washing up, so I’m still businessing, I’m still learning and I’m multitasking all at the same time.
For more tips to work from home, check out the video below.