I’ve been working from home for the best part of the last decade. Some of that time was partially at home and some office time, some of that time was mostly at home and partially at a co-working space, but most recently I’ve been 100% at home.
Here are some of the practical and mindset lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1. List your non-negotiables
Use a planner (or just a piece of paper or diary) to list the 3 non-negotiables for the day. If you are also homeschooling, perhaps take it down to 1 non-negotiable for the day, or 3 non-negotiables for the week.
2. Get your set up working efficiently
This might seem strange, but I found that I need to have a multi-bin setup in my home office to help sort the amount of paperwork, and also responsibly manage where it goes. I have a bin for ‘shredding’ (great job for kids), recycling, re-use (for note paper or kids drawings) and a very small landfill bin. This helps my office stay less cluttered. Fun fact, even envelopes with a plastic window can go into household recycling, and shredded paper and post it notes can go in your organics/greens bin.
3. Take regular breaks
It is very easy to fall into the trap of working too much to finish a task, and starting to do things like eating at your desk, holding off to use the toilet for much longer as you should.
I found that I didn’t do this nearly as much in a workplace as I do at home.
4. Zoom like a pro
Use the best possible microphone for your video meetings, the iphone headphones with built in mic are excellent. I personally have a Rode podcaster mic as I record a lot of videos. If you are presenting or speaking a lot in video meetings, a decent microphone is a good idea. Also, position your camera so it’s at eye height and isn’t too close to your face. I keep a shoe box handy to prop my laptop on (it does the job!).
5. Zoom overwhelm
I’m hearing reports that some organisations are embracing video meetings a little too much, and are overcompensating for the lack of contact by booking endless Zoom meetings. If you’re finding that you are spending all day on video conference meetings and no time actually doing the work you might need to have that awkward conversation with your colleagues/boss/office manager. And yes ‘zoom’ is definitely now a noun.
6. Office clothes vs active wear
This is truly a matter of personal preference. Some people swear by wearing normal work clothes to help with both professionalism and also mindset. I am very much an activewear person, generally only getting dressed from the waist up for video meetings (oh come on admit you do it too!). My family know when I’m in my running tights on the bottom and a blazer on top that I have a meeting! Honestly, bras optional and no ironing are the exact perks we need at this otherwise difficult time.
7. Pomodoro method
Thanks to social media, I now have the attention span of my 6 year old. One very effective strategy to concentrate on a single piece of work is the Pomodoro method. Work in short chunks of time followed by a short break.
8. Finish on a high
I love to finish the day with the feeling of accomplishment – get something (ideally something painful or that you’ve been avoiding) off your to-do list, and then make that your finish time.
9. Pack up your station
If you pack up at the end of the day (close your notebook, pens away, folders closed and in a pile, shut down your computer), it will reduce your desire to entertain thoughts that you will do more later in the evening. It will also make it easier to move around if you are bouncing from kitchen bench, to office, to dining table.
Remember, you are not just ‘working from home’. You are at home, during a global crisis, trying to work. It’s going to take some time to adjust to the new normal.
What tips, tricks and hacks have you learned working from home?