Working from home can be hard - noisy neighbours, slow wifi, the constant magnetic pull of the snack cupboard, and don't even get me started on loadshedding...
Here are some #TuesdayTips that I've come across over the past year and a bit which might just make your daily grind a little easier!
1. Take clear breaks
Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you have to be working 24/7. Take a break - make some lunch, get some sun, unplug from your computer for a bit.
Just like when working in an office, taking some midday me-time is essential. It’ll increase your productivity and keep you sane. You're entitled to those lunch and smoke breaks regardless of whether you're in the office or not!
2. Stick to your regular 9 to 5
Despite what we may have thought in the long-long-ago-before-times, working from home has definitely not helped with our precarious work-life balance.
The boundary between work time and personal time has become increasingly blurred over the past year and a half - just because you’re online, doesn’t mean you're available.
Treat your home work-day like your office work-day - once the clock strikes 5, that’s it. Email closed, Do Not Disturbs on, and your to-do lists becomes future-you’s problem. Present- you is officially off the clock and off for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
3. Separate your home and work spaces
Speaking of blurred lines (and no, I don’t mean the trashy Robin Thicke song), our work spaces have suddenly encroached quite obtrusively on our private homes - kind of like that weird cousin who comes to couch surf for a couple days and then never leaves.
Working in bed may sound like a fantastic idea at first, but it demolishes the boundary between what is your ‘office’ space, and what is your relaxation space. It can very easily feel like we’re hemmed in on all sides by Zoom calls in the kitchen, client emails in the lounge, and crisis control in the bathroom (take that whichever way you will).
The point is, it’s very easy to start feeling trapped if you let your work invade every square inch of your home.
Home is meant to be your safe haven; your respite from a long day of bullshittery at the office. If it all follows you through your front door, where else do you have to go?
It’s important to designate one specific area of your living space to be an ‘office’ - be it a study, the dining room table, or a corner of lounge between your dusty yoga mat and the shake-weights you bought with good intentions but have never actually used.
This is where your work lives. It will sit shackled to that corner with a ball and chain. When you leave that computer at the end of the work day, it does not follow you. Boundaries are one of the most important things to maintain when it comes to working from home - you need some place where you can go to get away from the every-day stresses of needy clients, overbearing managers, and lackadaisical coworkers.
With our states of lockdown in constant flux, the last thing you need is to feel like a prisoner in your own home.
4. Create (and stick to) a morning routine
Wake up early. Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Make a cup of coffee and some breakfast. Sit in the sun for an hour, light some incense, or heck, even crack out that dusty yoga mat for some morning stretches - whatever takes your fancy. Whatever you decide to do, make it your morning routine before the hustle and grind of the work day
Especially for us over-anxious millennials, routines are a fantastic way to keep yourself grounded.
They help you start the day off with a clear head and reduced stress. A routine is also a great way to make sure you’re looking after yourself and getting that extra little bit of ‘me-time’ before Karen from Finance starts nagging you about monthly status reports.
5. Embrace the magic of the humble to-do list
As a photographer, I (for one) am a very visual person (duh). But being visual isn’t restricted just to when I’m behind the camera - it extends to the way I learn, the way I plan my schedules, and the way I keep track of all of my administration. If I’m not staring at a task for about eight hours a day, I forget about it.
As someone with generalised anxiety and just a smidgen of ADD, I can become very easily overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do in a day - even if its not very much at all. Everything I have on my plate comes rushing at me all at once, and I have no idea which way to turn to get the ball rolling on any one of them.
The ridiculously simple solution to this problem? Making a to-do list.
Regardless of what you do - whether you’re a graphic designer, bookkeeper, or beekeeper - a to-do list helps you visualise all of your most important tasks and prioritise them. No more drowning under the weight of our responsibilities, thank you. Does a task on your list still seem too big? Break it down into little chunks in a to-do list of its own. The possibilities are endless.
At the beginning of the day (or the week), jot down all of the tasks you have to focus on. Once you’ve done that, prioritise them - by deadline, importance, scale, or whatever else makes sense to you.
Not every task on your to-do list has to be done in a single day, but it helps you keep track of the things that need your attention most. It's a way of organising your thoughts while keeping you on the ball and on top of your workload - no matter how large or small it is.
Did you find any of these tips helpful?
Working from home is a strange beast, and we've all learned to cope with its challenges in different and unique ways. Some of these may work for you, and some may not - and that's okay!
What's important is that we re-define that fine balance between work and home life, and keep making time to take care of ourselves during this incredibly stressful time in our collective lives.
Stay safe and keep thriving!