Here’s our 5 step guide to starting and staying successful, from the comfort of your own home.
Working remotely has many advantages and disadvantages, like most things in life, it depends on your personality, your job, your role within an organization, your family life and other commitments or strains on your time. Some relish a bustling office or perhaps have an easy commute while others would prefer the silence of working from the comfort of their own home without the stress and hassle of commuting and fighting to be heard over their co-workers.
For those of you out there who have taken the leap into working remotely, we’ve come up with 5 tips to ensure you reach and maintain peak productivity. Read on to find out more.
Step 1. Declutter your workspace.
Have you ever gone to sit at your desk only to find it covered in papers, snack debris and goodness-knows what else? It’s hardly an encouraging start to your work day to spend time every morning cleaning and re-organizing your workspace. From the outset of your remote working adventure it’s important to have a simple filing system that maintains order and removes distractions. Whether it be an in-tray with projects completed, to-do, and in process or perhaps research, edits and completed articles, an organised filing system will mean you can find exactly what you’re looking for first time and every time you go to look. It also means that you won’t waste your workday sifting through stacks of papers - everything will be in its place and just as you left it.
BEFORE - A photo from our marketing specialist Pam who works from home as freelancer
A desk organizer will also help you to keep necessary materials on hand, whether they be post-its to mark a page, pens and pencils for illustrating or jotting down notes or staplers to keep relevant documents together, making sure your equipment is on hand will further save you time and eliminate frustrations.
Some people also find it helpful to have an itemized list of things to do so you can check things off as you work and prioritize the most urgent or segment larger tasks, a calendar to mark important dates and deadlines and a note pad for ideas or drafts to help organize your thoughts.
Making sure everything is at hand and has its own dedicated space on your desk will help you to focus and increase your productivity.
Step 2. Set a daily schedule.
If you’re making the switch from commuting to working from home there’ll obviously be a significant change to your morning routine. Rather than setting an alarm for the crack of dawn, maybe you’ll be able to sleep an extra half hour? Maybe you’ll still have to be up to get the kids breakfasted and ready for school, but will be able to have a calming cup of coffee in a suddenly silent house instead of a rushed cup on the way into the office?
Everyone’s lives are different and unique so there’s no ‘fits all’ solution or suggestion, but one thing that is essential in shifting to working remotely is this: establish a new routine. Studies have shown that we humans are happier in a routine, we make better use of our time because we can plan the day and we know whats coming when. So whether your new routine is to sit down at your desk with a cup of coffee while you read your emails, go ahead. Maybe you want to check in with your boss? What if you’re a freelancer looking for new projects? The most important thing is to arrange your day in a way that suits your commitments and that enables a high level of productivity - just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you can be complacent.
Establishing a new routine can be challenging at first, but don’t get disheartened, its not unusual for something new to take time to set in. A time of transition means a time of trial and error. Find out what does and doesn’t work for you. Setting a daily schedule is just the start of this new phase of your working life. A daily schedule might even include such simple things as making sure you’re up, showered and dressed by a certain time. Though it might be tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day, you might find that in doing so you actually feel slow and sluggish because you’re more relaxed.
Think about how you work - would you rather be comfortable in workout gear? Do jeans feel a step above pyjamas but down from a suit? Or would you prefer to keep your office attire to help you get into your working mood? We’ve known people who regularly have video calls and conferences so they have adopted a half-half wardrobe solution with business up top and party down below (if they can’t see they won’t know, right?)
Making sure you schedule calls at the right time is also important and key to maintaining your professionalism outside of the office - who can forget the now infamous BBC presenter who’s children burst into the room while he was on air? Will your children be arriving home from school in the middle of a conference call? Their shouts echoing around while you give a run-down of new accounts as colleagues smirk into the computer? As far as you can, schedule phone or video calls for a time that's quiet and that won’t eat too much into your day.
Working from home can mean eating at your desk rather than stretching your legs to grab a sandwich or take your allotted lunch break. Make sure you schedule regular breaks into your day, time to refresh should be a part of your daily routine - we at TDSmaker often find that having a brief respite from the computer allows us to come back to work feeling refreshed and energized. There might also be a temptation to work through lunch and not even eat, despite the kitchen being so close, or on the opposite side of the scale, to take too many long breaks. Keeping a regular, timed break will help establish your routine.
Maintaining a regular, workable daily routine with clear, achievable targets is key to maximizing your productivity and ensuring you don’t spend your free time working. Remember you started this for a reason, you don’t want to be chained to your desk in the comfort of your own home.
3. Set achievable daily and weekly goals
We suggest making a daily to-do list, with achievable, specific goals - the more general a goal the more likely you are to get bogged down in unnecessary details, procrastinate or distract yourself from the task at hand. This overreaching and lack of prioritizing will only mean you spend more time at your desk and less time appreciating your new found freedom.
Along with your daily list, make a weekly or monthly list of clear, achievable goals, just like when you embark on a new fitness regime, being able to see tenable results and evaluate your successes will spur you on to work harder and more consistently.
Maybe you keep track of this in an app, on a note pad, desk organizer, calendar or even in a bullet journal. No matter the place, jotting down daily and weekly goals will ensure you have a clear and consistent timeline to work to, making life easier, cutting down on unnecessary work and reducing the likelihood of procrastination.
4. Network with other remote/home based workers
Part of the fun (and frustrations! Office politics, am I right?!) of going to the office is mingling with your colleagues, meeting new people from other departments and generally being a part of a larger community. Some people who make the transition to working from home find themselves suddenly isolated and cut-off from the outside world thats not to say all remote workers are agoraphobics or incapable of human interaction (speaking self-reflexively, of course).
With the rise of remote-based employment and digital nomads, online communities are popping up all over social networking sites and across apps dedicated to working from home. Engaging with people in the same position as you will make you feel more connected and less isolated, its hard to talk to friends who are stuck in a 9-5 office job and crammed commute who think your life is easy-breezy now that you "sit at home in your pyjamas".
Finding like-minded people will expand your professional network, give you new ideas for setting your daily schedule and goals and may even lead to new and exciting opportunities and friendships, you’ll never know until you bite the bullet and make the connection.
5. Get out of the house
As part of any work-life balance it's essential to practice self-care. People that work from home may find themselves working more and more now that their desk is just a short walk down the hall or upstairs. Make sure that as part of your daily schedule you set a regular finishing time (that you stick to) and that you make time in your day to go outside for a walk, to run errands or maybe even go to the gym or for a run.
The longer you stay inside at your desk the more you increase the likelihood of insomnia, stress, feelings of isolation and possibly, anxiety and depression. Giving yourself the time to get outside and get some fresh air will relieve feelings of stress and anxiety through the release of endorphins and will give your eyes and brain a much-needed rest and a chance to reboot, so you can come back to work feeling refreshed and relaxed and ready to tackle the next task.
Team meeting - A moment from our marketing team meeting. We like working from home and drink tea together :)
When working feverishly to a deadline its easy to ignore this last point, but do yourself a favor and make an effort to get out and move - you’ll find even a short walk around the block can do wonders to relieve stress and boost your energy levels. You'll feel energized and refreshed, making you more productive and happier overall - remember we don’t live to work, we work to live well.
For more tips on work-life balance, and professional advice and applications, check out the TDSmaker blog
TDSmaker is a cloud based software application that helps businesses large and small create datasheets, product specification sheets and technical sheets. We are experts at working remotely and are on hand to help with more tips and tricks up our sleeve, check out our blog here to find out more.
Side note: Thank you Pam for photos ;)