How one long time WFH parent (and sometime dog sitter) developed habits to get it all done
As a remote worker for the past five years, I’ve seen a range of mixed reactions to my work life from ‘lucky you’ to ‘how do you do it every day?’. But as so many are now joining the remote workforce to help prevent the spread of the pandemic, we are all having to do it whether we like it or not.
As a work from home (WFH) veteran, my perspective is that with flexibility and freedom comes great responsibility in terms of time management, productivity and wellbeing.
For those who aren’t used to working solo it can prove challenging to stay on track when distractions are in such close proximity (such as the fridge, the spice cupboard that needs sorting or contemplating bench pressing your dog!)
With the rookie remote workers in mind, here are my top five WFH hacks which have become habits that help me meet deadlines, stay on form for online meetings while still enjoying the balance and flexibility that comes with my home office.
Create your own workstation
Carving out your workspace is key – if you can add some ergonomic elements to it then even better, i.e. proper desk, chair and plant life.
It’s important to feel comfortable and calm in your makeshift office. It’s preferable to set up shop away from household distractions if you can. You don’t need a lot of space – even the tiny nook under the stairs will do as long as you claim it as your own.
Plan it. Do it.
Planning is key and I don’t just mean my workday and weekly deadlines. I mean planning what to wear so PJ’s come off early and even down to prepping my Tupperware containers full of freshly cut raw veggies and fresh berries in the fridge to avoid any ad hoc snacks I may pass on trips to the kitchen.
To avoid being overwhelmed with a long list of to-dos, I write my top three actions to achieve the night before a workday. When I start work in the morning I can clearly see where I need to focus and I get started.
You may like to start with more admin-type tasks then work your way up to the more creative or strategic projects. You will learn what works best for your brain.
Routine and rewards
Waking up at the same time and being at your desk at a designated time helps ease the pillow to computer transition.
It also sets boundaries for any ‘co-workers’ who may inhabit your home office space. The mental association you make between work and office can make you more productive so when working from home, keep to a schedule and give yourself little rewards when you smash your tasks (such as a specialty coffee mid-morning).
Take a breather
Breaking up a WFH day with fresh air and getting the blood moving (especially now sans gyms) is essential.
Make circuit-breakers a priority for you and any incumbents you may have at your feet. In fact, it’s the perfect reason to get your little people or pups out of the house for a brisk walk around the block.
You can even set an alarm to remind you to step away from your desk. That elusive idea or solution may even come to you on those walks which is great for that upcoming brainstorm or client zoom meeting. Also give yourself permission to say ‘I’ve done enough’ for the day, which in turns makes time for those virtual coffee chats and Friday arvo zoom drinks.