Ways To Become More Productive Working From Home
5 Ways To Keep Your Sanity While Working From Home
Two years ago, I started working remotely from my home office. The copywriting team is entirely distributed and working together via SLACK, with a supervisor sitting at the “Local Office” in Dallas, Texas.
Working from home there is no office dress code, and no office politics. If you want to start work at 2 p.m. and finish at 8 p.m. sometimes you can as long as you attend virtual meetings. Likewise, if you want to take a day off, providing the work gets done, a fixed schedule isn’t necessary in most instances. Personally, I have become more productive and been able to understand better now how to manage my time and keep a consistence schedule.
On a normal day, I manage through time-zone differences, misinterpreted emails, unreliable developing-world internet, and isolation syndrome… which I eventually came to love and appreciate rather than waking up to beat morning traffic and rushing home to prepare dinner in the evening.
Fortunately, for the past two years, I have been in the virtual business with experience managing copywriting remotely with minimum supervision. Although often times I find myself wondering when I don’t hear back instantly regarding an essay or an article I write and submit. Maybe they all think it’s no good and are reluctant to tell me… I fear…
And now because of this pandemic you may be facing these challenges for the first time. Here are 5 things I’ve learned working remotely that might help you navigate the brave world of working from home:
Set a routine
My original boss and mentor Yolanda Andersen used to tell me often “success is the result of heroic habit.” The older I get, the truer I find this to be.
Now that I’m working indefinitely from home and unable to go out, I’ve established a routine that has me rising at 6.30 each morning, brewing a pot of coffee, taking on trending workout routines with news in the background, then checking on my cosmetic business in Kenya, and downloading emails from overnight.
Emails and social media for Kenya business sorted and sifted, we eat breakfast, shower, dress, and sit down to write for two hours. Then I take a break for 30 minutes and quickly clean, vacuum and sanitize the house that will give my mind a rest and my muscles a stretch. I carry on working for two hours at a time with 30 minutes breaks for quick lunch and snack until 4 p.m.
Then Mario and I cook dinner, drink wine, play Scrabble or Chess with my daughter, and watch an episode of “Tiger King,” which we’ve recently discovered. Before bed, we sit in the patio with a good book and often doze off under the stars and call it a day.
I recommend, if you’re working under lockdown right now, as so many of us are, that you set this kind of formal daily program for yourself. Before you can pin it down, some days you won’t want to get out of bed early and other days you won’t want to work past lunch.
However, a routine that evolves into what Yolanda referred to as “heroic habit” can carry you through the tough times.
As much as possible, create physical separation between work and life
My home office space is not enough for all three of us, my daughter who is homeschooling and Mario who is also working from home. The, first thing each morning, we check each schedule and give priority to whomever that has video/audio calls to use the office workspace. We then convert our dining room to a workspace. Then the last thing we do each afternoon before shutting down our laptops is to put away all the office paraphernalia… and set the table for dinner. Make sure you eat together at the table it is a great opportunity to connect and share during these crazy times.
Don’t read emotion into text on a screen
Emails and texts today can be littered with emojis indicating the emotional state of the sender. But, when the person writing to you doesn’t include a sad face to give you reason for concern, don’t imagine one. As much as possible, stay in touch with fellow workers or clients using video chat. Facial expressions and posture go a long way to helping us understand each other. However, when all you’ve got are the characters on a screen, take them at face value. And give the sender endless benefit of the doubt.
Don’t apologize for your life
Working from home right now is more challenging even than working from home typically… because, right now, if you’re locked down at home… your entire household is likely locked down with you. If your daughter interrupts you to ask if she can eat that snack you said that she could not to eat or someone runs behind your chair while you’re on a video chat, don’t be embarrassed. It’s just life.
Remember time differences
My daily conference calls and video chats include people from US, Canada, Nepal, the UK, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and beyond. It’s not unusual for some of us to get the time wrong. I minimize the time zone confusion with help from TimeAndDate.com and numerous alerts on my phone.