Lockdown has, in my mind, changed the working culture of the UK forever. I’m sure that there will be a huge surge in the number of companies cutting rented workspaces to save cash and keep employees at home. We’ll no longer be tied to the 9-5 grind. Whether this will be for the better or worse is yet to be seen.
Some working lifestyles simply won’t manage the switch. As a teacher, I for one won’t give Zoom lessons for the rest of my career – nor would I want to. As necessary as the school shutdown has been over the past few months, there’s something irreplaceable about face-to-face contact.
However, as a freelance writer and blogger, I can work wherever I please. I’ve worked from home, in coffee shops, libraries, Universities and even on trains, but completely understand how difficult it can be to stay productive outside of an office.
These are my tips and tricks to maximising your productivity while working from home.
Set a routine
Routines are so essential. I’ve written about that before but want to take the idea further today. Establishing a consistent pattern of hours will help to maintain your focus. On the other hand, if you wake without an alarm and work when you please each day, you will develop a fundamentally lazier attitude; it’s inescapable. If you tell yourself that you will start work at 9, break at 11 and 1, then finish at 5, you’ll trick your brain into believing that these hours are for working, not for Netflix or Animal Crossing.
Equally, it’s hugely beneficial doing the same thing at the same time every day, as far as possible. When I spend the day writing, for instance, I know that I’m starting the day by creating content, then the hours after my break will be to edit the posts. After lunch, I’m going to create the thumbnails and social media snippets. By setting myself into this routine, I know what has to be done and when, making me feel less inclined to keep on putting off the tasks until later.
Plan out your day and you’ll feel much better because of it.
Tip #2 is a little trickier if your home isn’t well-endowed with space, but we can make it work. I’ve set up a space in my bedroom that is dedicated for working, comprised of a tablet, laptop, phone charging stand, an in-and-out tray and second monitor, in the rare event that I need three screens. Whenever I sit in my chair, I know that it’s time to be busy. When I’m on my bed, it’s time to relax.
Ideally, I’d have a separate office space to truly split work away from leisure, but beggars can’t be choosers.
The issue that comes with working from home is that your rules are self-imposed. You’re not told when to go home, nor to switch off and spend time with family and friends. When that happens is up to you.
It can be hard for some people. 5 O’clock could roll around and you’ll eagerly write ‘just one more’ email. Quickly, 6pm has approached, and you’ve found a new task to ‘quickly sort’ after dinner. Before you know it, it’s 9pm and you’ve put in 3 hours of unpaid overtime.
I think this issue comes from a lot of people presuming that, if they’re working from home, they have to work constantly, with only an hour off for lunch. Slacking off away from colleagues would cause you far too much guilt, and you end up feeling inclined to work harder and for longer. However, studies show that workers in typical offices spend up to an hour every day slacking off. Why should you work differently, simply because you’re away from your colleagues?
Go easy on yourself. Work smarter, not harder.