Working From Home: Top Tips
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Struggling to stay productive – and sane – while working from home? While every job is different, there are universal ways to keep efficiency levels high and avoid going stir-crazy. Here designer, illustrator and long-term WFH maestro Emily Brooks shares the top tips she’s learned over the years.
Have long-term vision, but set your goals on a day-to-day basis
Everyone is always telling you to make your year plan, to lay out what you need to do by the end of this month, and make huge financial and practical goals. While it’s important to have a general direction and vision in sight, when you work from home nothing is as important as just getting through what you can manage today. If you work remotely with long-lead deadlines, it’s key that you’re aware of longer term plans and work collaboratively towards them. But when you are your own boss – or when the business staying alive relies on you staying motivated – setting large goals for your week can be a set up for failure. Start each day by checking what you need to prioritise for that day. Items on your to-do list that you don’t do that day, roll over to the next. It’s one step in front of the other until you look back and see how far you’ve come.
I tend to faff about. By that I mean doing lots of things to ‘set up, get ready, clear up, make nice and get me inspired’ before I actually do anything. Ever re-written a to-do list three times because another notepad just looks that bit prettier? However much it is important to occasionally make a mood board, tidy your working area or browse Instagram for inspiration, nothing beats just getting on with it. Yes, put up a picture that keeps you motivated, but you don’t need fifteen, laminated, sprayed with perfume and wall mounted before you can reply to that email.
Set clear boundaries
You’ve heard this before, but it’s never been more true and relevant. Boundaries will inevitably cross, and life and work will mix stressfully sometimes, but it’s important to limit this ‘mixing’ as much as possible, and to feel a sense that you’re in control of your day rather than the day is in control of you. If possible, set up a work space that’s not in the heart of where, just a few hours later, you will be having dinner/canoodling with your partner during Game of Thrones. Work in a spot where you won’t be staring at a pile of dirty dishes. Set clear work/not work hours. Again, set these each day so you can adapt to the world around you. That way if they get all messed up because a baby won’t nap or you end up having to work through dinner time, you can adapt and be flexible to that particular day.
Revel in the good
Take stock of the beauties of working from home: no commute, playing your own music, not having to listen to Bob in IT rant about another new road closure, having your loved ones close by, being flexible enough to do the school run or having a coffee break in your garden. If you can go out for walks, do, if you can’t, sit by the window. Listen to what inspires or relaxes you. Celebrate small victories and communicate them with the people around you.
Yes, one of the benefits of working from home is that you don’t need to put on make-up or get dressed for your work day – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you feel at least presentable you’re more likely to organise online meetings and your voice will sound different. If you’re having a low day and not feeling motivated, putting on a good outfit can do wonders for your productivity and confidence.