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Working from home or remotely is overwhelmingly becoming the choice method of work for a growing number of employees and business owners. And with the outbreak of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, that’s now a pandemic and showing no signs of slowing down, more companies and businesses are moving their work home and online.
While this opportunity is one that many look forward to having, there’s more to it than working in your PJs in bed all day. If anything, there’s a transition that needs to be made from working in an office to now being a remote employee or business owner. Old office habits may not be conducive to a remote or home setting. And now that you’re working from home with no team or oversight, new habits like personal accountability and time management will need to be developed or enforced.
As someone who’s been working remotely as an online business owner for nearly two years, I can say with certainty that there were things I wish I knew when I first joined the remote world. Here are some tips if you’re new to working from home or will be doing so during the coronavirus pandemic.
13 Easy Tips If You’re New To Working From Home
Take advantage of the perks of working from home.
One of the weird things about working remotely is that you now have the ability to do what you want when you want. It’s easy to almost feel bad about it, especially as women because let’s be real, we feel empathy for everyone and everything even when it’s unnecessary.
Go for walks during the day. Take that online Spanish class or copywriting course you’ve been meaning to do. Remember all those times you wished you could take a nap in the office? Well?? Naptime is such a necessary thing and I wish everyone had the opportunity. I’m an early riser, often doing 5-6 hours of work before it’s noon. Afternoon naps are a staple in my life.
Make a designated workspace.
When we first envision working remotely, we think of working from bed or on the couch and not having to get out of pajamas or do hair. While that can be true from time to time, it’s hard to achieve a work-life balance that way when your personal life bleeds into your professional life.
When I first started working from home, one of the first things I did was set up an office space. All that was needed was a desk and a comfy chair that I wouldn’t mind sitting in for hours during the day, then some personalization. Decorate it as you want with pictures, candles, plants, etc. It’s your creative workspace.
Treat your day like a workday.
It’s absolutely imperative to treat your day as an actual workday and respect your online or business hours. When your home becomes your office, it’s hard to turn work off and easy to let work flow into other aspects of your life. It leads to stress and a constant feeling of burnout.
Have a designated time for starting your work and wrapping up your day. And, most importantly, don’t forget to schedule in breaks and time to eat! I can’t tell you how many times I worked for hours without stopping for food or just a quick walk or break away from the screen when I first started working remotely. It’s beyond unhealthy mentally and physically.
Do not think you can just wake up and go about your day because it will never turn out the way you have in mind. Why? Because your day’s unplanned. Not planning out your day is the easiest way to become unproductive with no direction or goals and not get anything done despite thinking you’re “busy” all the time.
I like to spend one day, typically Sunday, planning out my entire week. I use Google Calendar and block out chunks of time for writing, client work, and any appointments or meetings I may have. Then, I schedule in personal tasks like working out, language lessons, etc. The good thing about planning is that you have a good map of what your week will look like and you can be flexible as needed. Rearranging is literally as easy as clicking-and-dragging in your calendar.
Create to-do lists.
One of the easiest ways to keep track of your accomplishments throughout the day is to create a to-do list. Prioritize your list by adding three big things that must be done that day no matter what. Then, fill out the rest of your list with other things that you’d like to have accomplished by the end of the day but you’re more flexible with.
For me, in a day, my three big things could be along the lines of sending article pitches to a client or creating Pinterest pins for a blog post that’ll be published soon. My minor tasks could be anything from brainstorming blog post ideas to running errands like doing laundry or paying bills.
So, I first want to say that working in your pajamas is very much a thing and totally acceptable in the remote world. I highly encourage it from time to time because it’s awesome. It’s a remote work perk that should be taken advantage of.
Personally, though, I need to have a routine most days and that includes showering and getting dressed. I certainly won’t hop into work clothes, but leggings and a nice t-shirt or shirt do the trick. If I have a meeting, I can easily throw on a sweater or a jacket. It helps me create work-life balance and separation, plus it gets me into a work mindset.
I don’t think there’s a bigger distraction than working near family or friends, especially older ones. I’m convinced that because of the generations they were raised in that any work performed on a laptop is unserious. My parents like to carry conversations with me about the most trivial of things and they’ll have no clue that I’m busy typing up pitches and proposals or doing client work.
After a while, you’ve got to say no. It’s important to create boundaries. This is the time to stand firm and bold and demand respect for your business or work. And if they get offended,
screw their feelings politely explain to them that if you were working at an office, they would not be calling you at 10:47am to complain about their inability to find ripe plantains in December.
Silence your phone.
Texts and social media notifications are huge distractions, and because you’re working from home and on your own time, it’s easy to form a
bad habit of answering messages immediately. What it does, however, is cause you to break focus. Even though it only takes two seconds to respond to someone, you’ve broken your productivity cycle. Worse yet, constantly checking your phone leaves you susceptible to the counterproductive mindless scrolling on Facebook or Instagram.
Silence your phone throughout the day and only check it when you’re on a break or lunch. You wouldn’t answer your phone immediately in an office more than likely, so treat your remote life with the same respect.
Have a morning routine.
When you were working at an office, you likely had a routine every morning. Wake up, hit the snooze button 7 times, shower, get dressed, make coffee, sit in traffic, etc. They might’ve seemed like a chore at the time, but they triggered your brain and let you know that you were getting ready for work.
When you’re working from home, it’s easy to wake up and start working from bed, sometimes straight from your phone (please don’t do this). Give yourself 1-2 hours every morning to do what’s important to you before you show up to work. The chances of your best self showing up increase tremendously.
It’s important to have a workout or fitness routine if you’re going to be working from home. Office or cubicle life is sedentary as is, but at least you were walking to and from a car or public transportation, and getting steps in an office. Now? There’s a good chance you’re not even leaving your bedroom for most of the day. The pounds will pack on if you’re not careful.
Incorporate activity by talking walks 1-2 times per day. I try to walk or jog 3-4 mornings per week and also walk to Starbucks or wherever it is that I’m working if weather permits. If you’re driving somewhere, park far from the entrance to get in some steps. You can also get a yoga or gym membership and get active that way.
Get out of the house
Staying in the house for most hours of the day gets old reeeeal quick. Initially, it’s fun and can’t believe that you get paid to not leave your house and work in sweatpants. After a while, social isolation sets in and you’re tired of seeing the same surroundings.
Mix up your work routine by working at a different location once or twice a week. I like going to a coffee shop at least once a week and it’s a designated day (Tuesday) if I can. Airports are also fun to work in (not right now though ‘cos coronavirus), as well as libraries, coworking spaces. Have a hotspot? Bring your laptop to a park or scenic spot and get some sunshine.
Virtual co-work with friends or fellow remote homies.
Social isolation is an unfortunate reality when it comes to working remotely. 21% of remote employees or workers cite loneliness as their biggest struggle. You can combat this by having meetings or virtual coffee chats with friends and colleagues. I use Zoom and have regular meets with friends from around the world, including the United States, Canada, and Jamaica. Sure, we often talk business and share ideas, but sometimes it’s just to stay connected and chat with someone who gets the lifestyle.
Do what works best for you.
Having the opportunity to work from home can definitely be a blessing; it has been for me. It’s not always as easy as it looks, however, and there’s definitely a transitioning phase until you truly get the hang of things.
Don’t feel the need to be one way or the other. The truth is that every day is a new day. One day, you’ll want to jump out of bed and get your day started because you’re full of energy. Some days, you’ll be in bed sending emails and article pitches in pajamas until you realize it’s 1pm and you still haven’t brushed your teeth (it happens more times than you’d think).
The beauty of working from home is that you make of it what you want. So, use some of these tips and get started on your new journey!
Did I leave anything out? Share your remote or work-from-home tips below!
Ready to work remotely? Here’s a post on the best websites to help you find your dream remote job!
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