How to Have a Productive Day
Hail to the modern world of connected devices and accessible wifi, where the dream of working from a faraway sandy beach is totally possible, providing your connection is strong and you don't mind your own reflection squinting back at you from your screen.
If like me, you're lucky to not have the old chain and ball of a 9 to 5 and enjoy the freedom working from home brings, you probably have already experienced the tremendous sense of responsibility that comes with it.
Your home is where all the fun things are and it's very easy to stay in your pjs until noon, put on some Jeremy Kyle and binge on Coco Pops without anybody judging you harshly. Not ideal for one's productivity. Or one's health.
So as a seasoned work-from-homer (not that Homer) here are my tips to working from home, efficiently.
1. Set yourself a timetable. And stick to it:
Yes, you should enjoy you're not constricted by a typical 9 to 5 BUT you need to make sure your brain is switched on to work mode for a period of time in the day. The good thing here is that you get to choose it. Make sure it works for you. This may take some time but your body and mind will know exactly when you're most productive. For example, I'm really good at going through emails and planning my day first thing in the morning (cup of tea in hand) and get the most writing done in the evening. I am absolutely gone from 2pm-3pm so I take it easy then because I know I'll make up for that time later.
2. Find your perfect working space:
Your home can quickly pick up those stressful office fumes if you allow it to. Though it's pretty cool to work from the comfort of your sofa, you won't have anywhere to run away to and recreate at the end of the day. You know that feeling of getting back to your cosy home after a long day at work? That is completely lost when you work from home so make sure you set parameters so you can shut the office door (however figurative) and start your evening of free, you time.
3. And keep it tidy:
Nothing blows off creativity and clear thinking quicker than mess. At the moment of writing these lines, I am sitting on a really stiff futon, in a half unpacked room (we've just moved!) looking out at cables, unbuilt furniture and unfinished business. And it's making work a slow and stressful progress. Give your mind the space to roam by keeping your working area tidy, minimal and pretty. Invest in storage space so you can tidy things away, opt for rooms with plenty of light and mild colours and decorate areas with plants and flowers for freshness.
4. Get out as much as you can:
Or at least once a day. Your safe haven can quickly become your hell if you don't escape it every once in a while. Go for a quick run first thing in the morning, have your lunch in the park or run errands during your least productive periods. Exercise and fresh air will work wonders for the quality of work you produce.
As an added bonus, having your own flexible hours also allows you to do things like join the gym on an off-peak membership (cheaper and quieter!) or hit the shops in solitude when everybody else is at work. It's a win/win situation!
5. Human contact:
Beware the perils of the hermit! I'm lucky to have my boyfriend work alongside me often but the days when he's away, I turn into a right old weirdo. Peace and quiet are a true gift but when you're constantly alone, your social skills decrease and your good ideas start to get stagnant. If you have a team, make sure you call them up regularly, even if it's a quick catch up in the morning, or get together at least once a week to reconnect and refocus on your targets. If you don't, make sure you visit clients, take part in networking events or go for coffee with friends, family or people in your industry. Human relationships are the key to happiness.
6. Get dressed:
This one, is a big struggle for me. Even though the fact that I don't have to cake on my make-up daily or blowout my hair every two days is working wonders for my skin and hair, it's sometimes to the detriment of my self-esteem. I for one hate catching glimpses of myself in slouchy clothes with my unruly hair up in a tight bun. And the more I do it, the more I start thinking that perhaps that's just the way I always look. Now, don't get me wrong, I am all up for natural beauty and accepting yourself but only if it's working towards the better version of who you really are. You can't kick ass professionally in sweats and crusty eyes. Dress to impress, even if there's no-one looking. Pleasing yourself is the ultimate goal after all.
7. Take breaks:
This one is obvious but my advice is to use your breaks cleverly to manage your personal affairs. My breaks are no longer a coffee and a nag with a colleague or starring aimlessly at a beam of light, I use five minutes here and there to put on a wash, call the bank or pop on a face mask. Think outside the box and you'll find you get a lot more out of the same 24hours.
8. Switch off:
I'm a huge advocate of this one. Nowadays, it's impossible to get away from the world. We're in constant contact with people we know and people we don't, get emails at crazy hours and unwanted reminders on weekends. My advice to you is, switch off! Research repeatedly shows it's unhealthy to sleep so close to our mobile devices and how looking into screens before sleep makes it harder for us to get proper rest. SWITCH IT OFF! I turn my laptop off after work and my phone off before I get ready for bed. And I leave it downstairs so I am not tempted to grab hold of it seconds after waking up. What are we becoming? How much do we think we have missed in 8 hours? Forget technology, pick up a book, do some meditation or just catch some sleep. It'll do you much better than checking your Facebook into the late hours.
I hope my experience in the stay-at-home field serves you well. And for those days when work is piling up and you can't find the motivation, cut yourself a little slack. Think how many people are sat in their offices scrolling through BuzzFeed. It's not always easy, my amiga!
As always, mucho love :)