Hello Dixi Pack!
I’ll give a brief introduction to myself and how it’s come to be that I work from home. I'm Keely and I used to work in the Dixi Office but sadly left about 18 months ago to explore new opportunities. (Not that I can leave them completely, because here I am! I’m always around to be a helping hand if and when the lovely Dixi ladies need it.) After being made redundant a few months ago, and a string of false starts with seeking new employment - I took the plunge into self-employment. That was in August 2019, and I’m grateful to say that it’s still going well!
With the recent outbreak of COVID-19 (I know, I know. I’m sorry - but I couldn’t not mention it) more businesses are allowing their staff to work from home. For many, this is a brand new experience so I’m here with a few tips and tricks on how to remain productive while working from home.
I’ll start by saying, I’m no expert! It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m typing this from my soft office - aka. Bed. This isn’t something I’d recommend making a full-time habit of, but every so often doesn’t hurt.
Set yourself an alarm - I find sticking to a routine is the best way to keep me focused and make the most of my day. I start my workday at 9am, so I like to set myself an alarm earlier than that so I can throw on some comfortable clothes and make a cup of coffee.
- Get.out.of.bed - That’s a note to myself too. This is particularly important if you struggle to switch off at night time and finding sleeping a bit of a challenge. It’s so important to separate your ‘workspace’ from your ‘relax space,’ so by keeping work away from the bedroom, you’ll erase the risk of cross over.
Take breaks - Just as you would in the workplace, take your regular breaks. Breaks are important for a reason, not only are they an opportunity to refuel but they allow your brain to take a bit of a breather - so when you start work again, you’ll be feeling much more refreshed and ready to tackle your workload.
- Leave the house - If you’re self-isolating, ignore this tip. This is a general tip for more normal times. As a self-confessed introvert and homebody, this is something I have to really make a conscious effort with. Looking at the same 4 walls can send you a bit stir crazy, so I find it helps to get out of the house even if it’s just for a quick walk or session at the Gym.
Remember to socialise - As above, this is something I have to make a real effort with. I can tell I’m not doing a good job when I spend my evenings harassing the boyfriend for attention because I’m socially deprived. We’re so lucky to have things such as FaceTime at our fingers tips, so seeing a friendly face and having a good chat is so easy. If you can, pop out at lunchtime for a coffee with a friend or family member. (Again, ignore if you’re self-isolating and just make the most of FaceTime!)
To-do Lists - I find that working from home means using my initiative a lot more, or you end up spending most of the day waiting for a lot of responses. I like to write myself a list of things I can do immediately and things I need further information to complete. I’ll kick off my day by firing out emails or messages to gather any information I need or clarify some points, and while I wait for responses, I turn my attention to my ‘can do now’ to-do list and work through that.
Save work for working hours - With your laptop at your fingertips, it’s so easy to spend all day and evening working, and even working over the weekend. Suddenly your 40 hour a week job has become closer to 80 hours and you’re wondering why you’re exhausted. If you’re used to, for example, a 9-5pm work schedule, stick to that. Put.the.laptop.down!
- Pay attention to when you’re most productive - A little contradictory to the above, but if you know you’re more of an early bird or more of a night owl, take advantage of your ability to tweak your working hours slightly. For example, Start later and finish later, if you find you’re better in the evenings than in the morning. But, the same rule applies - don’t go adding on extra hours and exhausting yourself.
Praise yourself when you do something well - Everyone likes to hear when they’re doing a good job, but if you work for yourself, that’s something you tend to miss out on. You might not realise it, but praising yourself when you’re doing a good job is super motivating.
- Put your phone down - Unless you need to be on it, keep your phone away from you. When I worked in retail, I used to go hours on a working day without my phone even near me, but these days my phone is either by my side or in my hand. This is a tip I need to enforce for myself, and I am easily distracted. Studies have shown that it can take 20 minutes to enter full-concentration mode after being distracted by your phone, even if it's just checking a notification. So do yourself a favour, if you don't need your phone for work, then put it away.
I hope you find this little guide helpful. My journey with self-employment and working from home is still a learning experience for me, but these are all things that I’ve found to make the transition a little easier. Or, let’s be honest, some of them are things I have to really remind myself of so maybe this list will a nice little reminder for me too.
I hope you’re all keeping well during this weird, scary time. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.
All photos are from unsplash.com