14 years ago, when Excite Media was born, I had never worked a day in my life from home. The concept seemed so strange – how could this possibly work?
I learned very quickly that it certainly CAN work, and it can work very well. It takes discipline and structure, as well as a focus on self-care.
At Excite Media, we promote flexibility, so we are fortunate that working from home (or “WFH” which has become a well-known term) is already the norm. Having said that, there’s a big difference between WFH for one day a week, and WFH for weeks or months on end.
With everything going on with COVID-19, I’ve had to quickly try and kick these old habits and disciplines back into gear.
Starting the day.
If you haven’t worked from home before, the first thing you might picture is someone slowly dragging themselves out of bed, and working in their PJ’s. However, your morning routine is crucial to your productivity and mindset for the rest of the day.
- Start Fresh and get yourself showered and dressed and ready to start the day. It’s a myth that you should work in your PJ’s. I know they are comfy, but you’re only setting yourself up for laziness and a lack of focus if you do.
- Be consistent with your start time, and stick to it! Structure your start-of-day around your daily duties (e.g. fighting to get the kids fed, dressed and off to school! )If you’re used to listening to a podcast on your morning commute, keep this in your life. Whack on some headphones, make a coffee and sit on the patio and listen to it for half an hour.
- Set up your workspace like you’re used to having at the office. Being set up with everything you need: phones; multiple monitors; and all of the things can help make you productive. Have a dedicated, productivity-focused workstation, and make this the place where you spend the bulk of your day.
Need some focused thinking time? Take your laptop somewhere zen, like the patio or the backyard.
Try moving your desk to different places in your home, to give yourself a fresh outlook. I couldn’t stand being in my home office every day, so I’ve moved my desk to another window in the house, with a fresh outlook.
A change of scenery is as good as a holiday and a great way to clear your head and reset your productivity.
NOTE: the couch will not help you – seriously, stay away from the couch
Communication and keeping the team together
This one is key! It can feel quite isolated working all day every day at home by yourself. So, it’s essential to stay in touch with your clients and workmates.
- Embrace video chat instead of just calling. Phone calls are useful, but seeing a human face feels so good when you’re used to working in an office. It’s also a huge benefit for clients to communicate face to face. Free applications like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Slack are great ways to keep you connected to your team.
- Keep your normal rituals helps to keep your team engaged with each other. If you had team meetings in the office, be sure to keep these up while you’re WFH. In fact, double-down on communication where possible. It might feel like it’s less productive, but in the long run, your company’s culture will benefit.
Focus on Health
When I started working from home, the thing that I found hardest was taking care of myself. Having no structure to your day or discipline in your routine can lead to an unhealthy mind and body.
It sounds simple, but when you’re stuck in the one building for an extended period, it’s easy to let things slip.
- Get outside and get your daily dose of vitamin D, so have your morning coffee or your lunch in the sun, or take a walk or a run before you start your day.
- Get moving to keep your body and mind in check. It’s so easy to let this fall down when you work from home, so make sure you have a plan to keep it up. Go running, get a fitness app or keep your gym membership active. You just need to make time for it!
- Practice mindfulness is great for staying focused. Mindfulness is a powerful tool, and you’ll need it more than ever when WFH. There are some great apps available, so hit your app store of choice and find the one that works for you.
- Plan your meals and snacks in advance. This will save you so much time, removing the need to duck to the supermarket or out for a burger in the middle of the day. If you know what you’re having, you can plan when you’re going to prepare it, and where you’re going to eat it!Try not to eat lunch at your desk where possible – take the opportunity to go outside and take a break. Breaks are important!
- Set yourself a finish time and stick to it. When I started working from home, I actually found it hard to stop. It was so easy to keep working into the night, which did not make my wife happy! When you are working from home, there is no clear-cut “finish time” – so try to be diligent and set yourself some boundaries.
Hopefully these ideas will help you, just like they’ve helped me. It’s not always easy to work from your home environment, but sticking to a routine and maintaining a level of discipline can really help you get through the adjustment.