Snacks, PJs and Netflix
I am fairly sure that many who have been asked to work from home imagined that a productive day at work would mean getting up around 11, sitting in their pyjamas all day in the living room surrounded by snacks, working on their laptop with Netflix running on the TV. For the first day or so it might work, however, it will soon be evident that you can’t do that every day. It would be nice, don’t get me wrong, but it really can’t work long-term.
As odd as it may seem, in order to have the peace and freedom of working from home, you need to have a strict routine.
Schedule your day. If you’re working at home for the first time, it’ll probably be very tempting to work on the fly and wing it. You might manage a day or two of fitting in work here and there and still get enough done but it’ll catch up with you. Eventually you’ll justify taking full mornings off or four hour lunches and end up getting almost nothing done. You need to have a strong routine in place. For example, my working day starts at 6am. I have breakfast at 7:30 and get ready. I start again at 9 and take an hour for lunch at 12. I have a 15 minute break with a coffee at 2 and finish up at 4. It’s straight forward and easy to keep to.
It’s a good idea to have set times for answering emails and calls. If you don’t, you’ll be checking them all day long and breaking up your working time. I prefer 6am to catch up on emails from international clients and then 9am, just before lunch and before I finish up for the usual working day correspondence.
- Set the timer function on your coffee machine before you go to bed (waking up to the smell of coffee in the house is a great motivator!)
- Get dressed before you go to work
- Eat a decent breakfast
- Go for a walk on one of your breaks
- Flip your phone to ‘Do not disturb’ mode while you work and try going offline to help you maintain focus
You really do need your own space that’s just for work. Relaxing on the sofa with a laptop with people coming and going and having the TV on is a sure way to be distracted or drop off to sleep. Pick a spare room if you have one and close the door. Set it up like a real functioning office space with everything you need close at hand so you’re not wandering away from your desk every five minutes to find something.
Set boundaries. This is something I have trouble with, having two young children. You need to have the work equivalent of a sock on the door knob – DO NOT DISTURB.
Make sure that the environment you’ve created is conducive to working. How you do that and how strict you are depends on what you’re doing. For me, if I’m animating something complicated, figuring out code and math – problem solving – I want silence. If, however, I’m emailing people or doing mindless animation work, I don’t mind having a podcast on or some music or even Netflix running on another screen.
- Shut the door
- Let the family know when you’re not to be disturbed
- Work in silence if you can and use headphones
- Keep your space tidy
- Have a large bottle of water at your desk
This whole Corona Virus thing is madness but you might as well make the most of the circumstances. Staying home is the right thing to do. You can look at it as being forced to work from home or as being granted the freedom of working from home. Once you get into a good routine and you have somewhere that you associate with working, you’ll soon find that you’re much more productive than you were in your place of employment. There’s no work commute, no pointless meetings to attend and distractions are cut down to a minimum. Being relaxed and feeling in control is invaluable. Some employers have caught on to the benefits of working from home pre-COVID-19 and I imagine that many more will jump on the bandwagon after being ‘forced‘ into it.