As a bootstrapped entrepreneur, a home office (read basic setup) has been a blessing this past year, which has its pros & cons. I might have to do my meetings in coffee shops but I do get to multitask in my comfiest yoga pants !
But on a serious note, this developing COVID-19 situation has rendered most of us to Work From Home, or as the more seasoned of us would say “WFH” situations & we are facing unanticipated difficulties, some which we might’ve never contemplated.
For a lot of us, WFH is a luxury we often exercise, but what happens when the rules of the game change ? What do we do when our pets think we stayed home to play with them ? What do we do when our kids feel its a day off because Mum or Dad are home on weekday (okay…this I can’t relate to) ? How do we cope with our own procrastination, when we don’t feel the physical peer pressure of performance from coworkers?
So here, I list out some of the less appreciated WFH tips, that have certainly helped me a great deal, in the past year of embracing this work situation.
1. Wake up early & create a schedule for your day
I cannot stress the importance of waking up on the same time as you would for a weekday of work at office, and starting your day with few extra peaceful minutes for that most important cup of coffee. But most importantly, achieving the first task of waking up on time, sets an active tone for the day and it gives you the luxury of scheduling your day, before you turn on your connection with your team.
2. Use your commute hour for exercise With the commute off your mind, don’t give into this nagging lazy voice, that seduces you to sleep an extra hour.
"I generally go for my fitness classes or sports in the evening, once I finish my work day, but being a small business owner, with a home office, I’ve seen the positive benefits of resorting to Yoga in the extra thirty minutes each morning. It makes for a wonderful start of the day, not to mention the health bonus" !
3. Dress the part !
I’m not even going to bother denying that I haven’t been party to enjoying the comfort of ‘No Pants Tuesday’, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t warn you against it! We often forget that getting dressed to leave for work in the morning, is a key motivator, wherein we inherently dress to impress - to be the most confident version of ourselves, which can literally die if we spend the day in our night suit. Informal pants with casual shirts, or a smart lounge suit are perfect options for WFH day.
4. Structure your day like you would in office Organizing your day, to replicate your day at office - scheduling telephone / video conferencing per the existing agenda for the day helps in alleviating the absence of coworkers, when WFH. A good addition to this can be trying to schedule your meals, snacks, coffee at approximately the same time, to negate the feeling of missing out on lunch with your friends/coworkers or the key social hour of the day.
5. Meal prep !
In the fitness industry, there is a specific term - Meal Prep or meal preparation - which effectively means preparing your food portions, ahead of schedule, ensuring that you avoid eating junk food. At this time of social distancing, when most of us are WFH and don’t have the luxury of going out for lunches with our coworkers, the social aspect of this can dampen our mood. So it’s a great time to look embrace its positivity and meal prep for our health - make healthier choices and eat healthy.
6. Choose a dedicated desk Yes it’s easy to give in to this lazy voice that seduces us to get the laptop into the bed and sink into our cosy sheets while working, because of course, that’s the entire concept of WFH. Nothing could be far from the truth!
Most of us go on without having to have a dedicated work space or desk in our small urban living spaces, but now might be a good time, to create a makeshift corner in your house, perhaps a small corner where you can pull out some old furniture into, or simply a space on your dining table can double as a desk for sometime, but a dedicated desk is key for maintaining your productivity.
7. Make good use of technology for social interactions
Just because you’re WFH, doesn’t mean you have to be all work and no play - be the right kind of fun! Use video calls / group calls to interact with your work friends, who are also WFH in these unique times of social distancing. Include such interactions in your breaks, to give your day a semblance of normality, and ease up on the monotony of working in isolation from your social group.
8. Turn of TV but use mild music If only I had a dime for each time I thought I could work with Netflix on in the background! Sure a documentary on the History channel might oftentimes work to get into a cosy sleep, but when you want your brain sharp for work, its an unwanted distraction. Instead, I choose to opt for some amazing acoustic piano music on my Apple Music playlists - gives me just the right amount of ambient comfort and not distract me from my thought process.
9. Take regular breaks
When at work, most of us have our small go-to group of two or three with who we take our short breaks, be those for a cup of coffee or a smoke. But when working in isolation, taking a break might seem unimportant, since we reason ourselves that we are already working from home and not that strained. Its actually the contrary - we need to maintain these breaks, in the form of either a coffee that we generally have at noon or ten minutes to get a stretch in (which can often be slightly embarrassing at office) !
10. Turn off social media distraction
Logout of any social media pages from your laptop and only let the notifications hit your mobile phones to which you can choose to revert in your breaks. Since at office you don’t have the distraction of a spouse, child or a pet, send this habit of checking your social notifications to the back and bring your present physical distractions to the front. Oftentimes children do not understand that if you are WFH, you are not at home, so give your breaks an extension of talking to them and making them feel a part of your workspace, so they don’t feel completely shut out.
11. Find your most productive hours Observe your workflow in the first few days and understand your own patterns - find out when you are at your maximum productivity and schedule your day to get your more daunting tasks completed in that frame. It’s motivating to have accomplished the more demanding tasks, as well as clearing up mental space to get more done in the hours to follow.
12. Increase and or start your exercise regime
WFH gives us our commute time to and from office, for our personal use, so don’t give in to the urge to use this time to add extra hours to your work, instead choose to build on your existing exercise schedule or start one. Gift yourself this time by choosing to prioritize yourself and your wellbeing - get going by following some fitness classes on YouTube and include your partner or children in the same if you’d like !
13. Don’t bring work home
Fix an hour each day, when you finish work and enjoy your life at home. Just because you’re WFH, doesn’t mean you can procrastinate, to this feeling of having an endless work day. Stick to your routine and get back to your life - nurture your relationships, particularly when both you and your partner are WFH in the same space. These are very real issues but can be easily resolved by making sure you don’t bring work home at the end of your day.
These are unique times and a lot of us have never contemplated WFH for such extended periods, and it might seem challenging to do so. I’d just like to assure you that with some mindfulness, we can get through it with much productivity and have fun while doing so too!