Whether you’re a student, a freelancer, a self-employed-er or just a self-confessed work-a-holic, we’ve all had experience of working from our place of rest. The dizzying highs. The crippling lows. How to ensure you stay sane? We’ve got the low-down.
Anyone who’s spent a bit of time working from home will tell you that it’s a double-edged sword. On the plus side, constant access to the fridge! On the negative side, constant access to the fridge. Sure, technically you can stay in your pyjamas all day, but what’s the point, when there’s no-one to show them off to?
From racing productivity to baleful slumps in front of Jeremy Kyle, working from home can be quite the crisps-and-cheese orientated rollercoaster. But fear not, we know exactly how to make the most of it.
1. Find somewhere quiet to work. Not the place you usually relax.
“My bed!” You cry, “I’m EXCELLENTLY quiet in my bed! Surely I will work brilliantly from there!” This is a mistake. Ideally, you want to create a space away – or at least slightly separate – from the place that you go to chill out, because though you currently view it with eyes of joy and love, you will soon see it as an Arbiter Of Doom.
It doesn’t matter how much you love what you do, ideally you want the place you’re working not to blur into the place you relax after a good day’s toil. Start blurring those lines, and you may find it difficult to ever actually switch off, or indeed get really started to begin with.
2. Get a reliable broadband connection, and somewhere to go when disaster strikes
Likelihood is, you need the internet in order to do your job properly. Come now, let’s be serious about this – if you’re working from home you’re not a freelance steel forger. A good internet connection is your principle weapon against the world, and without it you are powerless.
Invest in a good, reliable provider (the specifics of this will differ according to where abouts you are based), and for goodness sake, always have a Plan B at the ready. Be it a grandparent’s house, a local café, a long-suffering friend. Your bosses, your professors, your colleagues – whoever it is that is trusting you to work away from their beady eyes – deserve better than ‘erm, so yeah I was MEANT to do it, but then the internet blew up.’
Trust is hard earnt. Don’t throw it away.
3. Remember to give yourself breaks – and stick to them
In my experience – and though it seems counter-intuitive – it’s a lot harder to take proper breaks whilst working from home than it is working from an office. Why bother taking lunch away from your desk, when your desk is right next to the kitchen? OK sure, I’ll spend 20 minutes reading a book, but I’ll certainly do it with one eye on my inbox.
Go for a walk. Get out of the room you’ve been working in. Don’t take six half breaks, take one, proper hour or half hour break where you don’t look at your screen or check your email. You’ll be more refreshed by it than you realise, and the afternoon’s workload will thank you for it.
4. Give yourself a daily structure
No-one else is going to, after all. Though at first the gleeful freedom of a structureless day may seem tempting, it can suck you into a dark vortex of work paralysis faster than you can say Just One More Episode Of Judge Judy.
Even if it’s just a loose structure – getting up at a certain time, breaking at a particular time of the day, creating a check-list of what’s to be done and imposing deadlines on yourself – not only will it make you feel on top of your work, it will give you a real sense of achievement when your to-do list is reduced to a quivering, defeated wreck.
5. Do the difficult stuff in the morning
No, you won’t want to. Yes, of course it’s easier to casually lounge about until eleven, and then get started on the tough stuff. But believe us when we say, you do your best thinking in the morning. Get the morning right, and you will feel like a champion. The rest of the day will bow unto you.
6. If it’s not working, change it
It might feel that, because you’re at home, in a space you have designed, you should instantly feel comfortable, relaxed and productive. This isn’t necessarily the case, and don’t let it guilt you. What works one week may not work the next – the best thing about working from home is that you have the flexibility to work in whatever way suits you best. And sometimes that might mean working out of home. It’s your call, after all.
Working from wherever you like is a wonderful thing, just don’t forget that a good structure, regular breaks and as few distractions as possible are not to be sniffed at. Good luck!