For me, working from home in the last 3+ years has been a learning curve that I got to enjoy and still enjoy. This is not to say that I have not encountered ‘work-threatening’ challenges like erratic power supply, super tight deadlines, annoying clients, data issues, and zero motivation.
In the midst of all these, I have learnt that being able to work from home effectively has everything to do with being disciplined and focused. There will be days you will not feel like working. There will be days you will wish you had 29 hours in a day. However, if you are really serious about enjoying the freedom that comes with working remotely, you need to start focusing on how you can work more effectively from home.
Here are 4 tips that have helped me in the last 3+ years:
Have a dedicated work space
I find it quite funny that whenever I tell people that I work from home, they usually have this mental image of me lounging on my bed, with laptop in front of me, a bowl of popcorn close by, and a bottle of water (this fitfam thing must work!)
I wish this were my life but it isn’t. I have a dedicated workspace (aka my blue table and my matching blue chair). I sit there during my working hours and only take breaks when the need arises. This office-like arrangement keeps sleep and ‘well-intentioned’ friends at bay.
Schedule your daily activities
As a rule, I never start working without creating a to-do list. I joke about the fact that nothing makes me happier than staring at a completed to-do list at the end of each day. Scheduling my work activities ensure that I do not leave out anyone and complete activities based on their level of urgency. It also helps me guard against distractions and know how to fit in unplanned activities that can’t be re-scheduled.
Get family and friends to respect work boundaries (time and space)
To be very honest, achieving this in the beginning was quite difficult. I recall having those annoying conversations that began with ‘Since you are at home, why can’t you do it?’
What I have come to realize is that well-intentioned family and friends do not understand that working from home is every bit as serious as working from the office. To avoid unnecessary conflict, you need to have a structured work routine that they are aware of. For me, I maintain an 8am – 4pm routine. My family and friends are well acquainted with this and know better than to drop by for a visit or schedule an impromptu meeting.
There are days I feel ‘somehow’ about being rigid with this routine but I remind myself that if I had a regular 9-5 job, no one will ‘drop by’, ask me to babysit, or call in to give ‘breaking news.’ These days I make it up to them by keeping my weekends work-free and catching up with them later in the evening.
Take regular breaks
There was a time I was taking on more jobs than I could handle. In order to keep up with deadlines, I would spend long hours working, wake up early, and sleep late. I was doing this for a while until I literally burned out. Trust me, burning out is as ugly as it sounds.
Thankfully, I learnt a great deal from this episode and became serious about taking regular breaks. I cut down on my work schedule and began to be more intentional about who my clients were. I no longer had issues with turning down gigs or referring clients to other writers. Funnily enough, my productivity, income, and work-life balance improved tremendously the moment I began to do less work.
Though, I am yet to become the poster child for work-life balance, everyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I have made great progress. This can also be the same with you.
You can live your best life working remotely – excellent productivity, great income, and (a decent) work-life balance. Simply choose to start working effectively and follow through on these tips.
Please! Don’t hesitate to share your journey with me. If you know any tip that would be of great value to remote workers like you and I, do share with in the comment section below!