I’ve been working from home since June 3, 2019, which I counted as my first official workday as a full-time writerpreneur after I quit my teaching job on May 24.
So when the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many employers to allow any of their employees that could do their jobs remotely to work from home, not much changed for me (on that front, at least).
For those of you who are working from home for the first time, here’s how I’m managed to successfully work from home in the past 9 months or so.
Do what works for you.
Chances are you’ve been reading a lot of articles on how to successfully work from home. Several of the women in my circle have written similar posts. Check out An Extrovert in Isolation by See Jane Write Collective member Audrey Atkins, Everything I learned in six years of working remotely by Maree Jones, and 10 Ways to Work From Home Like a Boss by Vic Styles.
But once you take in all of our tips, in the end, you must do what works for you. Try out some of our suggestions and if they work — great! If something doesn’t work for you, ditch it!
Get out of bed and get dressed — or not.
Almost everything you’ll ever read on working from home will suggest you need to get out of bed and get dressed. And for a while a followed that advice. I would get up, shower, put on a cute outfit, do my hair and even put on makeup. And on days when I had to go to meetings, run errands, or shoot a video this was a great idea. But on days when all I needed to do was sit in front of my computer and type getting dressed felt like a complete waste of time.
So I stopped.
For some people, getting dressed puts them in the mood to work or simply lifts their spirits. But for me, I know that I do my best work first thing in the morning. So, now on most days I just get up and get to work — in my PJs and with messy hair. And it works.
Have a designated workspace or two (or three).
Some folks will tell you to have one designated workspace and to work there and only there. That simply doesn’t work for me. While I do have a home office, I tend to move all over the house throughout the day. When I get stuck, moving to a different work area helps me to get back on track and keep going. Sometimes I work in my office, sometimes I work at the kitchen table. Other times I work on the sofa. I even work in my bed.
Related Reading: Create an Inspiring Workspace
Be a woman with a plan.
I plan each and every hour of my day, every day. When I was a teacher I lived my life in class periods and in a way I still do because the system works. I always overestimate how much time it will take me to complete a task in case something unexpected pops up. And if nothing does, then I have free time!
Eat the frog.
Whenever possible do the thing you’re dreading the most first. Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Or as blogger Mattie James likes to say, you’ve got to “David your Goliath.”
Do the hardest thing on your to-do list first and everything else will feel like a walk in the park. Eat the frog and everything else will be a piece of cake.
If you need help getting through tedious tasks, try the Pomodoro Technique, something I’ve been using for years. With this technique you break down your work in 25-minute intervals, taking five-minute breaks after each one. After four work periods, you take a longer 20-minute or 30-minute break. Then repeat as needed. The technique is based on the idea that the frequent breaks will keep you sharp and the focused work will keep you productive.
When practicing Pomodoro I focus on one task at a time — which I try to do always. Multi-tasking DOES NOT work for me.
I love the Pomodoro Technique because I’ve found it helps me get things done faster, thus freeing up more time to do things I enjoy.
Give yourself a break.
No matter how busy I am, I make myself take a lunch break. I close my laptop, grab some grub, and plop down on the sofa in front of the TV to watch an episode of N.C.I.S. Los Angeles (I have seasons 1 -10 on DVD).
I’m a workaholic and I will work from the moment I wake until the moment I fall asleep if I’m not careful.
Also, this year I’ve challenged myself to walk for exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. (You can follow my progress on Instagram @seejavaciawrite.) Taking a walk outside is definitely a great way to spend your break.
Research has shown that even though remote workers take longer breaks than office workers, remote workers are more productive. In fact, these longer breaks may actually be helping them get more done in the long run.
At the end of the day or at least at the end of the week, be sure to reward yourself for all of your hard work with some self-care or time with family and friends. And yes, you can spend time with others even while practicing social distancing. Get family and friends to hop on a Zoom call with you. If you’re an extrovert and miss being around your co-workers try to schedule a time to FaceTime with your work buddies or even plan a virtual happy hour.
Working from home can work and it can work quite well.