How to work from home

samfloy~21 March 2020 /Work

I hope you’re all doing well on the coronavirus front. As more and more places seem to be asking people to work from home I thought I’d share some thoughts I’ve had from doing it for the last 3-4 years.

If you have any good tips, please share, and I’ll send them around next week!

I should note that I’m assuming here that a job can be done using a computer. If not, I’m not sure what to suggest

The main idea

Make a conscious contrast between work and non-work

When it comes to working from home, I find it can be easy for the day to become one big blur.

The times I’ve found myself feeling low from wfh is almost always a result of work spilling over into time I’d not want to be working, or non-work affecting my ability to feel satisfied at getting good work done.

So, with that in mind, here are some tips:

Get dressed

I found it very easy to slumber around in the morning and open the laptop whilst in my PJs. For me, putting on normal (though nevertheless comfy) clothes is a good signal that work should begin.

Accept there may be mess

In the mornings I have most of my energy and so typically try to use it for “thinky” tasks that I’d be too distracted to do in the afternoons.

The trouble is, after washing up breakfast I might notice that I also need to clean the chopping boards, or that the cupboard needs to be rearranged and before I know it it’s 9.45am and I’ve not started work.

I’ve begun accepting that things will inevitably need tidying up, but that I’ll do it “after work hours”. Perhaps whilst listening to a podcast.

Make a workstation

Even if it’s the kitchen table or the bed (where mine currently is), make a conscious effort to clear away non-work stuff in preparation for work to happen.

Trying to type away whilst there’s half a bowl of cereal in sight won’t do anyone any favours.

Give yourself breaks

In an office environment it’s easier for natural breaks in work to occur e.g. when you chat to someone in the kitchen. Unless you have roommates, this little (beneficial) switch off for your brain is more tricky to make.

Some people recommend the pomodoro technique.

Go for a walk

Even 10 minutes around the block. I generally find that by 11am the boost of being in a different surrounding + body movement + some fresh air often outweighs the diminishing marginal returns of an extra 10 minutes at the keyboard.   

If you’re in self-isolation maybe you could go in the garden, or on a balcony, or… put your head out the window?

Go for a run?

Or some other exercise that wouldn’t normally be possible during the workday. 

It’s probs best to clear it with your team that you’ll be offline for an hour, but one of the upsides of wfh is to do things in parts of the day when you wouldn’t normally.

Note, it took me a while to factor in shower time after doing a run, especially if you need to be back for a call. 

Backfill your calendar

At the end of a day I often feel guilt at not having got enough done. After even a couple of days it can seem like “What did I actual do this week?”

A way around this has been to make events in my calendar for when I did certain things. For me this is “Research about X”“Planning out Y” but also, for example, when I have lunch.

For me, I rarely put in anything smaller than 1 hour (so I’m not documenting my whole life). In cases where I’ve got lots of little things to do I’ll typically have an event called “Emails + admin tasks”.

Facetime when you can

There must be some science around why it’s good to see people’s faces, but wfh typically means you’ll see fewer.

My default is always voice call, but I try to make an effort to see people when the internet connection permits. Assuming I like the person, I’m always left happier after the call than when I just heard their voice.

Move the other person’s face on a video call

A little technical “hack”. By default on a video call the other person’s image is in the bottom right. By moving it to just below the camera it’s easier to imitate “eye to eye” communication which is nice. More explained here.

Play music

In an office (most) people consider other people and keep their listening to themselves.

A small win when wfh alone is to ditch the earphones and actually play music out of a speaker.

Close everything down

Going full circle, I try and make sure I tidy away anything that looks suspiciously like work at the end of the day.

This practically means closing down my laptop (+ charger) and hiding them away out of sight (if I need to use my laptop for non-work, I’ll first close down all work tabs). 

If I’m getting up after a day sat down I then like to do something mildly exercise-y (some stretches, a walk etc.) before inevitably settling down again to watch Netflix…

Again, if you have any tips you’ve developed from working from home, do let me know!


In other news…

I’ve been speaking with some designers this week about coming up with some brand principles for my new business Cofruition.

The universal advice was “make a Pinterest board”. I’ve never used (nor really “got”) Pinterest but it actually made the task of finding examples of designs etc. that I like pretty easy. 

The other thing I’ve been working on is planning out a new podcast I’ll be starting.

If you listen to podcasts enough to feel you have an opinion on what makes a good/ bad one (and would be willing to chat) then please do let me know! I’ve got some questions that would be great to get your opinion on.


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