Covid-19 meant that many of us had to shift to a work from home lifestyle and still many others had to seek out new work that could be done from home. The problem is, no one ever teaches you how to work from home effectively, and many of us were just unexpectedly thrust into this new lifestyle without any guidance on how to best make it work.
Still, others have children at home that don’t really get the concept of mom and/or dad being “at work” and not everyone has the luxury of private time at home to even get the necessary work done.
I don’t claim to have all the solutions to these problems and everyone’s situation is different, but for me, as a work at home content editor and manager, there are some key things that have helped me make things easier.
Luckily, I was “work from home” long before COVID, and I’ve learned a few tricks and tips along the way that sound really easy at first, but take effort and discipline to implement. Take a look!
1. Create a designated workspace area
One of the best things you can do for yourself if you’re shifting to working from home, whether permanently or just during COVID-19 lockdown, is creating a designated space where you can comfortably work.
Whether you prefer to sit on the floor or at a standing desk, create a space that you can sit down at and know that this is where you’ll be doing your work, and that your workday begins once you are sat here.
Keep this area separate from other parts of your life, like eating or sleeping (it is said that bringing your laptop or other work into your bed can affect your sleep). Make sure to also keep it tidy and clutter-free, when possible, to promote a clear mind and make it the kind of space you’ll want to sit in.
2. Let Housemates Know You’re “At Work”
One of the hardest things about working remotely from home is striking that work-life balance and if you live with others, whether that’s a spouse, children or roommates, it can be difficult to get that private time where you won’t be interrupted to do your work.
If you have children, this could be almost impossible, but in situations with adults, where it is, make it clear when you will be “at work” and unavailable for other things.
Some people may not understand that working from home does not mean unlimited free time or the flexibility to always create your own schedule. Setting these boundaries will allow you the private time necessary and make it clear to your housemates that you are busy.
There are several ways you can do this, like locking yourself in a separate room with a sign on the door, but talking it through and explaining your situation will probably be what gets the best results.
3. Make Room For Self-Care
For some people, like myself, working from home means that as soon as I get up, I make a coffee and open my computer and get started with my day. My theory is that the earlier I start my work, the sooner I’ll be done, so there’s no sense putting it off.
But my way is not necessarily the best and lately, I’ve been working on considering aspects of self-care that need some attention in my life.
Depending on my workload, it can be easy to think that I don’t have time for breaks or to eat lunch or even take some time out to get outside or do something enjoyable, but I’m realizing that in the grand scheme of things, my work is not going to suffer if I do these things, even if all I have time for is a quick snack and some stretching away from my computer.
Where previously I would sit in front of my computer for hours and hours until my work was done, I’m setting reminders to help me shift my attention to something else for a while, and it’s having a good effect on my stress level and overall sense of wellbeing.
4. Take Charge Of Your Remote Work Finances
While many people have found that their existing job has shifted to WFH (Work From Home) and they’ll be returning back to the office, whenever possible, others have made the conscious shift to find new jobs that allow them to work remotely permanently, from anywhere in the world.
If you fall into the latter category and are working freelance, like myself, it can be a challenge to know what to do with your income from this type of work, whatever it might be. How to keep track of it and how to monitor things like incoming and outgoing income, invoicing and billing clients and many other things can be completely daunting if you don’t have any particular skills in building spreadsheets.
Luckily, there are a whole host of apps and websites that can help you keep track of your finances as a remote worker. While some are more complicated and others and what works best for you will depend on your individual needs, I recently came across the website Pigly, which is a no-nonsense, easy to use site, full of great tools that have very simple layouts.
For me, personally, I don’t need complicated Excel spreadsheets to manage my incoming and outgoing cash. I particularly like their Cash Flow Calculator, which helps me figure out all my incoming and outgoing cash each month.
I also like their Budget Planner, where I can input all my bills for the month and my incoming cash flow, so I can get a rough idea of where I can allocate my funds and what I have leftover. It also gives me a stark look at my spending habits and how much is going to ordering delivery during these non-restaurant times!
I also like that there are tips on the site about reducing your debt, saving, repairing your spending habits and much more. And the site doesn’t just cover managing your freelance income, there are tools for retirement savings, education and car expenditures, too.
There are lots of other apps and sites to help you manage your remote finances, so find the one that works best for you.
5. Know When To Turn Off
One of the problems with working from home is it can be hard to determine when the workday is done. Since emails can be checked at any time and your office is at home, it can be tempting to hop on and check at any hour of the day, to see if you got the reply you were waiting for or if any work is waiting for you.
This is something I really struggle with, but my newest thing is to try my best to set work (home office) hours. I try to get up at a regular time and sit at my desk with the intention of this being the start of my workday. I set a time of day that the work should end and if there is still work to be done after this, it will have to wait until the next day.
Depending on your job, this isn’t always possible, but it’s really important to set some kind of boundaries between what constitutes work and “off work” time at home, otherwise, there will never be any separation and you’ll quickly feel overworked and exhausted.
Find Balance In Your Remote Work Life
I hope these tips have helped you and you’ve realized the importance of setting aside a designated workspace, keeping your finances organized and making a point of keeping your worktime and playtime separate.
There’s no easy solution to this new world we find ourselves in, but it’s clear we have to now think outside the box to try to find a way to make our work from home experience as streamlined as possible.
Whether you are working from a café on a beach in Bali, or from your squishy flat in the city, a few tweaks to your routine can make all the difference.