Whether you already had a head-start, or perhaps you have only just begun, we have taken the time to research and distil the main tips for avoiding the most common pitfalls of Working From Home (WFH).
The resounding advice in its simplest form is: Establish Routine.
Before setting your new schedule, decide what your Working Hours are going to be. Perhaps you are a morning person whose best work is done at sunrise? Or maybe you are a night owl, most alert in moonlight. Whichever you may be, adhering to set waking and sleeping hours will balance your circadian rhythm, which in turn will further improve your productivity. Additionally, WFH veterans (and studies) all agree that the first 60-90 minutes of wakefulness set the tone for the rest of your working day.
So here are some ways to set your tone right:
1. Avoid emails till your Working Hours begin
And maybe also the news…
Nothing is worse than reading stress-inducing emails in the first 2 minutes of wakefulness.
A general principle worth trusting is this: If there were a truly catastrophic issue with work, someone would (and should) call you.
An email is, after all, an inefficient way to communicate an emergency. And so, your inbox can wait till your Working Hours begin.
2. Do something for you
like 3. Schedule exercise and stick to it
If you are a member of the ‘morning people clan’, then scheduling your daily exercise first thing may sound like a viable option for you. A wealth of scientific evidence has pretty much established as fact that exercise boosts mental, emotional and physical well-being. As a bonus, working out in the morning has been shown to be really great for habit-forming, giving you your best start to the day.
For others, vigorous movement moments after waking might sound like the 6th Circle of Hell.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to do it first if you don’t want to – but definitely do it later. In the meantime, perhaps you can start your day instead with 15 minutes of that book your friend recommended, or listening to your favourite podcast, or perhaps you are ready to finally take up meditation?
4. Get dressed (Optional: after a shower?)
Yet again, studies support the habit of getting dressed before work – even if you are WFH – as a simple yet effective way to cultivate that productive mindset for the day.
And here is an angle you may not have considered:
For those of you unaccustomed to working solo, it is advisable to have as much contact with your employer/ employees/ colleagues by video chat. Not only does this maintain accountability within your team, but it will also help fight the emotional disadvantages of social distancing. So don’t get caught in your pyjamas when the boss misses seeing your beautiful face!
5. Map out your day by setting goals and commitments
Your Working Hours have commenced. You are at your new designated ‘office’ space, equipped with your caffeine mug of choice.
Use your first 5 minutes to establish your goals for the day. Thinking about what you would like to accomplish within your Working Hours will help you budget your time more effectively and mitigate the risk of your Working Hours gradually and sneakily lengthening over time. Additionally, it will serve as a great measure of how successful your working day has been at the end.
6. Stop Working
Do not let your Work Day melt into a Work Evening (unless of course evenings are your chosen Working Hours).
It is very important to set and adhere to the boundaries between work time and personal time within your own home.
Take care of yourself: Stop at the stopping time, even if you are not completely finished.
A thoughtfully and realistically mapped day should see the end of your to-do list lining up nicely with the end of your Working Hours. A completed list acts well as affirmative permission that it is OK to stop. If you completed your list too early, perhaps you can get a head-start on tomorrow?
If however you find yourself running out of time, analyse the possible reasons why and amend your mapping approach accordingly:
- Perhaps one of your tasks has taken longer than you anticipated?
- Are you expecting too much from yourself in one day?
- Or maybe, just maybe, you have spent too much time honing your procrastination tactics?
This last one is OK and important to admit to yourself in order to do better tomorrow. A very easy way to improve is by setting up better accountability measures (e.g. Those fully dressed video calls with colleagues we mentioned earlier?).
7. Schedule an After Work activity
Highly recommended is planning a video chat with a friend or family member soon after your Working Hours.
This will make your chosen stopping time feel more meaningful, as well as supply you with some very much needed social interaction (albeit at a distance). Checking in on each other regularly will help keep us all connected, sane and positive.
Other ideas include watching that next episode of your favourite series, or maybe you have been dying to give your children the attention they have vied for all day, or perhaps you have decided that yes, now is the perfect time to finally distance learn Japanese…
So long as it is something you really like and will want to wrap up work for, it is a good idea.
That’s all folks!
We hope you have enjoyed our tips and advice for WFH and perhaps have had an idea or two as a result. We are going to be applying these principles ourselves as we continue to support you from a distance.
We would also love to hear any and all of your own tips and advice moving forward in our first week apart. Share your experiences with us on Instagram @w0rldsendstudios
We are still working together!