Wednesday, 14 December 2016

LET'S TALK: The Learning Curve of Working From Home



Food. My main motivator in life...
**Here is where I would like to have put a glam little office space I have in my house, truth is, where I work isn't quite as Pinterest-worthy as I would like. Also, lazy. Rearranging my desk, moving the papers, moving the pile of magazines that I pop my MacBook on so I can watch something while I work...it all would all take too long and I'd just get a crap shot anyway...**

In July this year I started working from home. I have roughly one day a week in the office, events/meetings in London quite a lot but the bulk of my working time is now spent in my little cottage.

I must admit, it really has been a learning curve. One that I can’t say I dislike but sometimes, it’s not the easiest to get motivated when your desk is a 30 second walk from your bed or you know you're not going to see anybody all day so it's totally fine to just wear your dressing gown. The temptation to stay in bed answering your emails and making phone calls is hard to resist but you just have to have a routine. I think that’s the main point of this.

That said, with my job it’s really, really difficult to have a routine. As I’ve babbled on repeatedly on here – I travel quite a bit throughout the year and not every week is the same. I work in Events and Marketing but a lot of this is centered around overseas tradeshows, press events, out of the office meetings and a chunk of this is not on routine days/times.

 
1. Write a daily to do listAhhh, the satisfaction of list making. This really is possibly my top tip for staying organised. I usually pencil in a few things on a Friday afternoon that I 100% need to do next week then revisit it on a Monday morning and do a more solid to do list. I have one of those daily planner pads so I can give myself a few tasks each day to complete. Obviously, if I get bits and bobs done I can move onto the next day. I am super forgetful so without these daily/weekly to do lists, I would be not only completely disorganised but also very unmotivated.

2. Get up, get showered, get dressed
This is something I have majorly struggled with but do as you would before a day at the office or before a meeting. Get up at a reasonable time – I would usually get up to go into the office about 7.15am but find if I get up about 8.15-8.30am I am a little more awake. Have a shower, get dressed, put a little bit of makeup on – do the things you’d usually do so you have a daily routine that is applicable to both working at home, being in the office or whatever lies ahead for the day.
I’ve had times this last 6 months where I’ve waited until like 8pm before bothering to have a shower or get dressed and by that point, well, it seems a little bit pointless.

3. Make time for a bit of fresh air
This is another crucial part of my day. Especially this time of year, being stuck in the house during the grey and dark days isn’t the best for motivation. Before I start working, mid-morning, lunchtime and mid-afternoon I make myself a coffee or a fruit tea and go and sit outside for 10 minutes in the garden. I try and avoid making phone calls, checking social media etc so it gives me those little 10 minute boosts with no distractions at all. When the weather gets a little bit better, I’m going to make it my mission to have a 15-20 minute walk around the village either in the morning or around lunchtime as part of my break.

4. Know when to switch off
When I first started this job, although I was office base, I worked all the hours under the sun. I was running myself ragged waking up at half 6 and doing an hour of emails/bits and bobs before heading to the office for 9, working through my lunch until 5 then carrying on for an hour when I got home, plus answering my emails until I went to bed. Although it’s good to have a strong work ethic, work shouldn’t be your life. Work should be a part of your life that you enjoy as much as you can but it doesn’t take over. Obviously, the dangers of working at home mean you have this intense work ethic that means you never switch off from your job. I’m still bad for this – I’ll remember something late at night and send an email there and then so I don’t forget. Sometimes, that’s ok but you really need to have that time to unwind before your working day begins again.
I vowed to myself when I moved into this house that I would stop looking at emails or doing work by 6.30pm at the latest each night. This may sound quite early but it means I can cook a meal from scratch (something I’ve always done), do the dishes, have a bath if I want, watch some tv or read a book…just have some time to relax and empty my mind a little.
Obviously this isn’t always possible but trying to do this 80% of the time makes me feel more motivated daily rather than struggling to get out of bed the next morning to be chained to my desk again.

5. Have a dedicated work space
I would occasionally work from home at my previous house but when I moved in here, as I knew I work be working from home, I told myself “you’re having a desk, that’s where you work everyday. Not on the sofa, not at the dining room table, not in bed.” And I still feel this is so important.
If you work downstairs on your knee from the sofa, it’s easy to get distracted AND get a stiff neck (same with working in bed!). Working from the dining room table just means I leave paperwork everywhere and rather than actually being able to sit there and have dinner, it’s just a mess. So I have my desk upstairs in one of the spare rooms. I’ve got my candles on there, a little plastic drawer set (which I hope to replace for something nicer soon) with my paperwork in, a little desk lamp and a big window so the room is as light as possible. I mean, this is 'office goals', my current situation is a little less glam.
My brain knows that my little desk upstairs is where I work. It knows that when I step away from this desk, I’m not working. It helps me to switch off after a day of working because my work is left at that desk (literally!) I know not everybody has space in their home for a dedicated working area but believe me, it really helps. And there are so many companies that make smaller desks or something that can achieve a similar use.

6. Eat properly and drink plenty of water
I find when I’m at home I drink less than when I’m actually in the office. God knows why, maybe it’s because it gives me an excuse to move from my desk and stretch my legs in the office.
It is SO important to make sure you drink enough during the day anyway, but especially when you’re working. I have one of the plastic refillable water bottles from Tiger that I bring up with me everyday and make sure I refill it at least 3 times as well as drinking my coffees and fruit tea.
Foodwise – it’s a luxury being at home. It means I can having a more filling breakfast to keep me going (usually poached or coconut oil fried eggs with crumpets or rye bread with a bit of spinach sprinkled with chilli flakes) and then a lighter lunch (either soup or a juice/smoothie and some nuts). It is very tempting to reach for the unhealthy snacks so I’ve had to cut down on buying them BUT, I must admit, having the bigger breakfasts stops me feeling the need to snack throughout the day.
7. Communicate. Have a break.
It can get very lonely being at home all week, especially if you’re used to being in an office with people to chat to when you need a break. I make sure each day I give my dad a call (which usually ends up being a couple of times) as well as ringing one of my friends at office. I also make sure I catch up with people via whatsapp/on the phone as a break away from work.
Once a week, I nip out with my Macbook to one of the local coffee shops for a couple of hours to have a drink, be in a sociable environment and get work done there. It’s amazing how this couple of hours in your week can keep your motivation levels up.

8. No distractionsThis might sound obvious but it is really important to not be tempted by the distractions of being at home. “Oh there’s some washing to do” or “I can just clean the bathroom quickly”. If you spend time doing these odd jobs throughout the day, it can take up more of your time than you realise! To avoid household distractions, I write a house to do list and spend no more than half an hour each day ticking a job or two off – if I can assign the jobs to specific days then I will.
I have to have my phone with me all the time as it’s my work phone BUT I try and avoid using it as much as possible for whatsapp/social media whilst I’m working. As we all know, five minutes can easily turn into an hour of browsing Instagram.
I try to have some music on in the background rather than something on Netflix but will occasionally put something on but it has to be something that doesn’t require a lot of focus. Putting on an episode of Luke Cage or Planet Earth is a no go as I just want to watch every minute. Putting something on like One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl etc means I’m not overly distracted! On the other end of the scale, working in total silence makes me distracted. I need a little bit of noise!
These are just a few things that help me stay on track. I can't say they work 100% of the time, but just like those working from an office day in day out, you don't always stay 100% focused. Work isn't always fun but it's a necessity (and luckily, I thoroughly enjoy my job so it makes it a tad easier) so staying motivated and upbeat is important.


Do you have any working from home tips for me? I'd love to know!


xo

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