For many freelancers, working from home has long been the norm. But for countless other professionals, this major shift is only part of our new reality with COVID-19.
Whether you have a fully equipped home office or you just started working on the couch in sweats, certain challenges of working from home are almost inevitable — distractions, changes in time management, and stress, to name a few.
We solicited advice from superstar freelancers to help you keep your productivity and spirits high during this period of obligatory WFH.
Here are our tips for producing your highest quality work from home, reducing stress, and keeping your morale high.
If you’re not used to working from home, you may not be aware of the way mundane tasks in the morning help you prepare for the day. Something as simple as your regular commute can put you in the work mindset.
At home, transitioning from waking up to work can be hard. After all, now you have more time for that long breakfast and a second cup of coffee, right?
You can jumpstart your productivity by knocking something off your to-do list right away. This might be starting a load of laundry, doing last night’s dishes, or situating your kids. Whatever you do, get one productive thing done first thing — then you’ll be prepared to get to work.
Whether you routinely work from home or not, having a space that’s dedicated to working can help you maintain the same level of focus and motivation as sitting in an actual office.
For people who live alone, this will probably not be too difficult. For those who live with their partner, children, or roommates, this can be tricky (more on that in the next tip). In any case, try to find a quiet place where you can sit at a table or desk. If you can create a standing desk, even better!
You might be tempted to spread out on the couch with your laptop on your lap, but this is not a sustainable approach — it’s the least “officey” place to work, and can lead to more distractions, a bad back, and even falling asleep.
We are living in a strange and stressful time. We are home more than ever, and if you live with others, this can be challenging. When you have to concentrate on work, it can be even more difficult.
But, we are all in this together! With open communication and clear expectations, you can set simple guidelines for sharing space and minimizing disruption. For example, limit noise, use headphones, and chat only during break times.
Keeping a schedule will help you stay on track, maintain a high level of focus, better manage your time, and get more done. Create an agenda with all of your work tasks, home duties, meal times, and breaks.
It may seem strange to plan out your breaks while working from home, but this is an effective way to limit distractions from social media, the news, or texting (let’s face it — we can all use a break from the news by now).
When everyone is working from home, it may seem like any time is a good time for a call. However, unplanned phone calls are disruptive and break focus.
If you need to call a client or colleague or someone is trying to get in touch with you, choose a time that works and add it to your schedule — then stick to it.
Busy people are more productive. When you feel like you have all day to get a couple of quick tasks done, don’t be surprised if they take you twice as long as usual.
Stay busy with your tasks as much as possible. If you find yourself without a full day’s worth of work, stay busy with other things to keep your overall productivity high, such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, art, yoga, etc.
On the flip side of staying busy, taking enough breaks is crucial. Your brain needs to unplug and relax from time to time. If you go into overdrive, you’ll lose focus or burn out, and the quality of your work will diminish.
Breaks are a great time to interact with friends and family (virtually).
Chips are not a meal! Now is the time to take extra special care of our bodies and minds.
Prepare healthy food that will give you energy and stamina. Supplements like zinc and vitamin C can help boost your immune system. And don’t forget about mental health — be proactive about relieving stress with yoga, meditation, at-home or outdoor work-outs.
Just because you live in your office doesn’t mean you should work all night. When creating your daily routine, designating a time to clock out is just as important as clocking in. With a clear ending time, you can better plan your work agenda and more accurately estimate when you’ll finish projects. It will also help you keep your evenings free for fun and relaxation.
Some days will be easier than others. Treat everyone and yourself with grace and patience while keeping track of progress and productivity.
However you’re riding out the COVID19 storm and its likely longer-term impacts, it’s important to maintain perspective and maintain control over your professional and personal life.
The tips we provided should help, but keep up the conversations with your friends, family, and colleagues going to strengthen your communities and resilience. Staying productive, active, and optimistic will help all of us as we muscle through this together.