Top 10 Tips For Working From Home
As an interior designer who works from home normally, I love it. There might not seem like a lot of major changes for me, but there are some as it’s a bit of a change from my normal week. I am so used to going out to visit clients and various meetings with suppliers, but now everything is at home and daily household tasks have to be managed as well. I tend to get the housework out of the way in the morning before I start work to avoid those distracting thoughts; the washing gets either hung up or folded, the dishes get put away, hoovering is done if needed, and I tidy the sofa ready for the evening. So here are my top 10 tips for working from home and hopefully staying productive…
1. Get Dressed
I know the temptation to stay in your PJ’s because I am tempted to as well. But trust me, no one needs to see me in my PJ’s, slippers and dressing gown with messy bed hair. Getting dressed will help you feel a lot more motivated which will make you a lot more productive. So just in case of that video call, I try to make myself presentable. So after my morning concert in the shower (I am one of those who thinks she can sing, but really shouldn’t), I get dressed.
I try to stick to my normal formal (ish) work clothing as if I was going to see a client or a supplier meeting. Wearing your normal work clothes will help you feel more focused and motivated which will help you concentrate and be more productive.
Ladies and gentlemen, try to keep a good skincare and hair routine to make yourself feel more normal. My hair is a hot mess if I don’t brush it and take care of it because it’s so long. I mean medium size animals could move in if I didn’t care for my hair. I also usually put a tiny amount of makeup on to feel a bit more put together like it’s a normal work day.
A good way to avoid the temptation to stay in your comfy PJ’s is to choose your Monday to Friday outfits on Sunday evening, so you don’t have to think about it every morning.
2. Have a Dedicated Work Space
I am very lucky to have my home interior design studio where I sit down and work every day. You may also be lucky enough to have an incredibly organised home office or study where you can work. For those who don’t, a kitchen table, a dressing table or any worktop can make a wonderful desk space. Wherever you choose, make sure you stick to using that place as your work area. Having somewhere to work is essential to your productivity.
Make sure that you are comfortable in your work space (but not too comfortable that you might fall asleep), never work in bed. Try to choose a work area that you don’t have to clear away every time you use it. If you are using a communal family space such as the dining table, have a little box where you can keep your things, so it can be moved and put back quickly when you other half plans that romantic meal. That way all of your work stuff can be kept together.
3. Make To Do Lists
Use a notepad, pin board or whiteboard to create your daily to do list. I have lists absolutely everywhere. We all work differently when it comes to making lists. For me as an interior designer working from home, I like to have a list where I can physically cross or tick off my completed tasks. It makes me feel like I have achieved my daily goals. I do however reward myself a little too much sometimes with a nice snack to say “well done Antonia” to myself. Food is very motivational for me.
I tend to write a weekly to do list on my whiteboard and on a Word document, and cross things off as I do them. My daily to do list is usually written on a notepad the evening before, so I can get up and get straight to work without having to think too much. I get a few of the quickest tasks done first as it really motivates me to try and finish the list when I have some things ticked off.
Yes, I occasionally forget something and get those panic moments in the middle of the night, but I keep a pen and paper on my bedside table, so I can write reminders. I write lists for so many things, not just work related.
4. Stay Hydrated
I am very guilty of not drinking enough liquids, but I am really trying now. Please try to stay hydrated (with water or squash, the gin is for the evening). The benefits of staying hydrated and preventing brain fog far outweigh those extra 20 trips to the bathroom.
Dehydration is proven to cause tiredness and brain fog leading to poor concentration, feeling dizzy, headaches and many more physical and psychological symptoms that could prevent you from functioning at your best.
It’s a lot easier if you have a variety of different drinks so you don’t get bored. I have a bottle of water (sometimes infused with cucumber or other fruit), a couple of hot Ribena’s and a glass of apple juice to keep me going. Always have plenty to drink at your desk.
5. Have A Lunch Break
I love food and eating, and I look forward to lunch. Please make sure you have a lunch break and don’t work through it every day. And don’t eat at your desk as it is proven to decrease your daily productivity. Try to make your lunch break roughly the same time every day to encourage a routine.
To help with this, I meal plan both lunch and dinner to make life easier as both myself and my better half are working from home. It takes the decision out of the equation. Which brings me to, try to eat lunch with someone if you can and have a chat over lunch. This could be with your partner, family or even a video chat with someone while you both eat lunch.
Lunch is a great time of the day to look forward to as it allows you to recharge and get your blood sugar back up to prevent brain fog and increase productivity. I love lunch and often wish that there were 3 lunches per day.
6. Get Some Fresh Air
Try to take a regular “escape” from your desk for some beautiful fresh air to make you feel more alive. For me it is as simple as a little walk around my little garden to inspect my plants and look at my roses (after I have tripped over that piece of decking that I have been meaning to remove for the last few months). I walk around for 10 minutes or so and do some basic plant care. I love a little gardening break. It is especially lovely at the moment with the beautiful weather that we are having.
So take a walk around your garden, step out onto your balcony to look at the beautiful world around you, open your door or window and take a long deep breath. Times like this can really help us to appreciate the world around us.
7. Stay Connected
Most of you are probably managing to keep in touch with your work colleagues with regular video calls and meetings. For me who works alone, I have to really make sure I stay connected with people, with my clients, suppliers and other contacts.
WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email, Zoom and Skype are excellent for keeping in touch, working from home and keeping up with all of your industry news. I mostly use WhatsApp and Facebook to talk to my clients and tradesmen etc. And have chats with random business people on Facebook groups and LinkedIn. Also posting regular work content on your social media can help to start up a conversation with others.
Also stay connected to your family and friends, I really miss mine. I use WhatsApp to talk to my Mum every day, 8 miles away and I can’t see my family, but we are all in the same boat and we will see them soon.
8. Minimise Distractions
I am not going to lie, I get very distracted by thoughts of food as I’m always hungry. I have to have regular snacks, I can’t help it, but it does help to ensure that I get regular screen breaks from my desk. Maybe we all have something that distracts us. Maybe it’s social media and chatting to your friends, yes you need to stay connected, but set some time aside for your personal social media when you are not supposed to be working. I have had to do this as I get so distracted and consumed by it, and before I know it an hour has passed. So now, I set 10 minutes in the morning just to check there’s nothing important, then I can look at it to my hearts content after work in the evening.
9. Get Organised
I have to be organised to be able to think straight. After I finish working on my interior design projects, I like to make sure that my design studio and desk are left tidy, so that I have a lovely clean space to come back to in the morning. A cluttered work space is a cluttered mind and can also be very distracting when you are trying to work.
10. Create or Stick to a Routine
It can be difficult to stick to, but having a routine in place really helps you with productivity. To get motivated when working from home, it really helps to get up at the same time every morning, have a morning routine before starting work, then having a set time when you start work. The same applies during your work day when you set a time for lunch and a time to finish work. Going to bed at the same time every night also helps with the routine.
Give Yourself Something To Look Forward To
I love my work as an interior designer, but I also love having something additional to look forward to. Whether it’s a lovely meal, BBQ, baking or crafting, having a reward really helps with motivation. Whatever you enjoy doing would make a wonderful treat for you at the end of the day or maybe something bigger at the end of the week.
This evening I am particularly looking forward to making and eating pizzas, watching Friends with my Boyfriend on the sofa. Sometimes it’s the simple things, especially right now in this difficult time.
Keep safe, healthy and well.