The coronavirus pandemic and social distancing mean that more people are working from home than ever before. As a contractor, you may frequently work at your clients office, at coffee-shops or co-working spaces. After all you can choose a workstyle that suits you. But, staying productive inside your own four walls can be a bit of a challenge, particularly if you’re not used to doing so.
Here, freelance copywriter (and expert at working from home), Daniel Nixon gives us his six top tips for getting work done without leaving the house.
If you've suddenly found yourself working from home for the first time, you've probably had something of a culture shock. Without the regular rhythms of a commute or the structure of a working office, you might have felt your productivity start to nosedive and your anxiety going through the roof.
Well, help is at hand. My name's Daniel Nixon, and I'm a freelance copywriter. I have clients all over the world, but I do most of my work from my home office. I've been working like this for two years now, and I've learnt some valuable lessons about home working along the away.
In this article, I'm going to share my top six tips for working from home. Have a read through, try them out, and let's see if we can turn you into a WFH VIP.
Set a time to stop and stick to it
When people first start working from home, they often worry about finding the motivation to get to work. However, you'll probably find that it is stopping work that's the problem.
You see, when everyone is leaving the office at 5.30pm, it's a great signifier to shut down your computer and head home. But, when you're home working, that shut-off signpost disappears. Before you know it, it's way past dinner time, and you're still grafting away.
So, every day, set a time to finish working and stick to it. I find that planning an activity at the end of the workday helps—a work-out or jog around the block can shake up your brain into getting out of work mode.
Work from a dedicated space
When you're at home, it can be tempting to work while sitting on your sofa, or even from your bed. But, that's really not the best way to go about getting your job done.
It's much better to find a dedicated spot in your home that can act as your office. It doesn't have to be an entire room, but having a separate space just for working will help you get into the right frame of mind.
Schedule check-ins to the minute
Keeping in touch with your team or client is often a vital part of staying productive. But, just like real face to face meetings, it's easy for Zoom video chats or conference calls to take over an entire afternoon, without really getting anywhere.
Instead, plan specific start and end times for any meetings or remote catch-ups. That way, the team can focus on communicating what they need to, without the meeting spiralling out of control.
Work to a timer
When you're working in an office, you get lots of little subliminal cues to look away from your screen regularly. Whether it's making a round of brews or having a non-work chat with a colleague, these little distractions stop fatigue and help you work better.
At home, of course, there are fewer of these cues to help you take a break. So, use a timer to help you to alternate between focusing on work and taking a break. I use a Pomodoro timer to keep me on-task (there's a great online one here). It helps me to work hard in 25-minute blasts before taking a five-minute break.
Learn to love your to-do list
The humble to-do list often gets overlooked as an organisational tool. But, when you're working from home, it can be a real godsend. Start each working day with a 15-minute to-do list session, and you've got a framework for the day right there, ready to go.
I write my to-do list alongside a gratitude journal every morning (you can read all about gratitude journals here), which helps me to quickly review my previous day's activities with an outline of what needs to be completed today. But don't worry about detail at first, just jot down your tasks and revel in the joy of crossing them off once they're done.
Tear up the rulebook if it gets the job done
While it's great to be able to stick to a schedule and maintain a disciplined home working practice, sometimes you have to pull out all the stops to get the job done. And when that's the case, ignore all the rules and focus on your goal.
It might mean working from your bed past midnight or foregoing regular breaks. Don't beat yourself up about it. Just get the work out of the door, and return to your more organised practices on the next project.
Working from home might leave you feeling anxious or overwhelmed at first. But, by following the guidelines above (and remembering to cut yourself some slack in these uncertain times), you might find working from home to be a surprisingly productive way to get your job done.
We'll be continuing to provide you with guidance, tips and advice right here on the Parasol blog, so keep checking back or keep your eyes on our social media channels for updates.
If you have any questions please get in touch with us as we'll be more than happy to help.