The ability to work from home can open up so much freedom and flexibility that it can seem like the pinnacle of career goals. Having said that, the number one question we get asked about working from home is: how do you stay focused without working side-by-side with your team and under management in a regular office?
The entire team at Vine Street Digital work remotely. Our staff are not only working from different homes but sometimes even in different time zones and countries. The team have put together their top methods for making it work.
Have A Routine
Everyone is different, but for me, sticking to a routine is my #1 tip. This doesn’t mean it has to be super strict, but I like to have a set time to start and a rough finishing time. This helps me to plan my personal life around my work, to make sure I’ve got a strong work-life balance.
Dedicated Working Space
For me, the most important thing for working from home is to have a dedicated space. In my previous house, I was working at a desk in my bedroom. It always felt like I was spending all my time in the one room. Now that we’ve moved, I’ve got an office. I know that when I’m in the office it’s time to work, and when I’m done for the day I can leave that space. This has helped me become a lot more productive and comfortable working from home.
Use Timers For Productivity & Health
Working at home by myself means I don’t get the more conspicuous break reminders of a regular office (such as coworkers suggesting a trip to the local cafe). If I get stuck in the zone, it’s easy to forget to stand up and stretch. Having an app like Time Out (MacOS) is great! It reminds me to take “micro-breaks” every 15 minutes, and then a larger break every hour. You can adjust the break length and frequency to suit you.
Alternatively, sometimes I try the Pomodoro method. You work for 20 minutes, take a break for 5 minutes, then repeat this cycle a few times before having a longer break of 25 minutes. It can help me focus on tasks one-by-one. Sometimes it feels less daunting (especially when approaching a bigger task) to give yourself just 20-minute blocks. There are many apps for this on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows; such as Tomighty.
Clean Your Desk!
I find that I am at my most productive when my working space is clean and tidy. I make sure to take five minutes at the end of every day to put things away, remove any cutlery and crockery, and do a general de-clutter. Once a week I wipe my desk down with a surface spray. When the spirit moves me, I grab a bunch of flowers either from my garden or the florist. Tidy desk equals a tidy mind for me.
Take Advantage Of Your Situation
One of the biggest lessons I have had to push myself to learn is that remote work allows you so much freedom. Freedom to get out and enjoy a sunny day, work whilst travelling, and enjoy activities within “office hours” that you might have otherwise had to condense into the limited hours outside of 9–5. Being at home alone and glued to your screen all day is not healthy, and is not making the most of your situation. Work from a park or the beach. Go for a walk during the day, or do an activity that you enjoy. You will feel a sense of renewed energy, appreciation, and a shift in your attitude toward work, making for more productivity during the hours you are getting stuck into your tasks.
Make Your Work Setting Work For You
I have found that you will go through stages of comfort when working from home. But, once you have found a balance between working from home and other destinations, you will be set for success. I have my home office set up in a way where I can have the comforts of the outdoors in my dining room. That’s right, my office is my dining room – I don’t like small rooms. My desk faces two large windows so that I can always see the trees and weather. I have a few knick-knacks to fiddle with, such as a slinky, a fake talking bird, and pens for days.
Cafes are my second office of choice. I love working at cafes – it allows me to still have human interaction and soak up the noises of another atmosphere (including eavesdropping on chatter) whilst having a new space to enjoy during the day. My favourite is a little cafe called Gramps in Red Hill. I sit in a recliner chair for 5 hours, sipping on batch coffee and enjoying the music, whilst building out accounts and talking to clients. It’s the perfect setting.
However you do it, it’s always a plus to make your workplace work for you. When you have a work-from-home arrangement, you hold in your own hands the power to set yourself up for success. Get creative and forge your own path!
Your agency, your clients, and your health will thank you.