I’ve been mostly working from home for eight years now, and right now many of us have no choice but to do that. A lot of you might not have done this before and so today I wanted to share my 5 tips for staying structured while working from home.
I drink a lot of coffee while working from home
Personally, I love working from home! I get to sit in a creative environment that I created: on cold winter days I light candles and sit bundled up in a thick knit, in summer I open a window, sit barefoot and my music is more energetic. If it’s really nice out I can take a break to sit in the sun or go for a walk, and continue working later. I am my own boss, can make more mindful decisions throughout the day since I am free from affecting anyone else – nothing needs to be rushed because someone needs to know right away.
But with all of that comes responsibility and the need to stay very structured and so you also need to have a lot of self discipline (I’m still working on that last part). But, here are my 5 tips for staying structured while working from home:
1. Use a calendar
Planning is so important. But for the whole week, but also individual days. I use the bullet journal method as I like the freedom of it. Just like with work, I don’t like being to constricted and boxed in – which is most likely why I work as a freelancer and choose to use this type of calendar. It also allows me to be a bit creative amidst the planning which helps keeping me inspired. On Mondays I start my morning with some coffee, sitting by out kitchen table in the sun making my spread for the week and putting down goals, intentions and things that need to be done.
I have some things that I put into specific days of the week, but I also have a running to-do list underneath my weekly spread and some things are in a list further back that just need to be done sometime in the current month. This is different for everyone, but I don’t want to be told that I have to do a thing on a certain day. Unless I have a really tight deadline I work better just knowing it needs to be done sometime during the week but that I can choose when to do it.
2. Take breaks
Depending on where you normally work, this might not be something you can do in the same way – but working from home you have the freedom to take more breaks. If you work in front of a screen it’s good to let your eyes rest. Our hands and wrists also get very tired if we’re doing a lot of typing or clicking around. So get up, go for a walk, read a book or magazine, do a 10-15 minute workout or yoga session. Have a nap or work on something creative. I like to head down into our workshop to work on jewellery or maybe I’ll do some tidying up around the house, sit and read for a bit or draw a little. Sometimes my break will be a break from work, but not the screen, and I will watch a YouTube video or two.
What you choose to do is up to you, but it’s so good for your brain and body to get a break from whatever you’re working on, when you come back to continue you’ll feel refreshed, have some new energy and maybe even view what you’ve done so far in a different light. We always need a different perspective and something to see our work in relation to. For me this is especially true when editing photos; When I come back to the screen after a break I might see that my photos are a bit too dark or the colors too green.
3. Change your environment
Another thing that I love about working from home is that I can change where I work. If I am doing things that only require a computer I can sit at my desk in the morning, but then take my laptop and sit in the kitchen for a bit, or on the couch by the open window in the afternoon sun (unless I’m editing photos, sunlight is sadly not recommended for that activity) or I can even bike into town and sit and read and write at a café for a bit.*
*With COVID-19 going around though, I suggest just finding new spaces at home for now.
Do you have other friends that are also working from home? Maybe you can work together. My desk is very big so sometimes Linnea comes over and we sit and work side by side. Since we are mostly on our own it’s nice to have some company. We can bounce ideas back and forth, give each other feedback on our editing and there’s also someone there to hold you accountable so that you actually sit and do your work. If you know you might procrastinate a lot or not like being home alone this is a great way to combat the two.
Another bonus tip for feeling less lonely while working from home is to listen to the radio or podcasts. Hearing someone talk makes it feel like there’s someone else there with you. I also have a few colleagues in Finland and through out our workdays we send a lot of voice messages back and forth, talking about our day and what we’re currently working on which makes it feel like I do have colleagues even if I sit and work all by myself.
5. Check things off
Make sure you check things off as you do them. Even though they’ve been completed, it feels very satisfying and rewarding to check things off your list which will in the long run inspire you to continue keeping lists and completing your tasks.
We’ve had to make changes very drastically now which is never fun, but I think it makes for people having to problem solve and actually act on things they could otherwise ignore. I am hoping that this will, in the long term, lead to bigger corporations realising that we do not need to travel for meetings and that their staff members can be productive without always coming in to the office, and in other hours than strictly between eight to five.
What are your thoughts on this, and how is COVID-19 affecting you where you live and work? Are you currently working from home, and is it a new experience for you or something you are familiar with?
I’d love to hear about the challenges you’re facing or any tips you might have to share!