Having spent plenty of time working from home for myself as well as part of a traditional role, I’ve gathered plenty of tips and tricks to enhancing your working day when you’re, essentially, going it alone. There’s an entire ‘Careers’ archive on Daisybutter about this topic and similar subjects, so I’ll try not to rehash too many of those points. Instead, enjoy my comprehensive guide to getting the most from your WFH day.
Create a Large, Ergonomic Workspace
Top of my list is workspace-related. In an office provided by an employer, your desk and seating is already prepared to ensure an ergonomic space. Adjustable seating, a large worktop and things like screen-level monitors and comfortable keyboards all fall under this category. Of course not all of us have the room for a home office or even a desk, but there are many other options available.
First up, use somewhere with a large surface area. A dining table is great! I really recommend elevating your laptop to eye-level with a laptop stand^. I have a collapsible one that also doubles up as a sofa desk, meaning I’m at ease to work around the house. I use it at my desk and at the dining table, and also propped up on the sofa for more relaxed tasks.
If you’re in a position to, a second screen can be really helpful. I find it ups my productivity to no end as I can have multiple documents or windows up to reference from. For those whose WFH measures are not permanent, see if you can get hold of a HDMI cable and link your laptop to your TV, or share your screen via Apple TV.
A supportive chair is also key. You’ll want adequate back support, so consider using decorative throw cushions on your dining chairs to do so. I also like these slim support cushions^ via Amazon! If your role includes conference calls or video meetings, be mindful of creating or finding a neutral backdrop so your fellow meeting mates aren’t faced with a wall of clutter. It’s easier on the eye. Plus, keep headphones in close proximity for said calls.
Establish a Physical Separation Between Work and Personal Time
Much like you would in a normal 9-5 job, establish some sort of separation between your job and your own time. Because there’s no commute, this can be achieved in several ways.
I always recommend continuing to tidy up/away your work area. Put laptops in drawers. Pens back in pots. Restore normality to dining and coffee tables. Then, establish a physical separation from that spot. This could be going for a shower, heading outside for a short walk, or donning your gym kit and doing a workout. I always do the pack down and then shower and get into pyjamas, after being in casual work wear, so that it aligns somewhat with my normal routine.
Keep to a Routine
Speaking of which… Keep to a routine! I would strongly recommend it not 100% following your usual one; take advantage of the fact you’re home! My WFH routine includes waking up with my usual 6.30am alarm, but replacing the lengthier getting-ready routine and commute with a freshly made breakfast and coffee, and a solid reading session. Then, I get my desk set up for 8.45am and start whittling through my emails. I continue to take coffee/tea breaks throughout the day, and will always make space for lunch in a different part of the house.
If your workplace is flexible enough to allow it, take an extended ‘lunch break’ and get some fresh air. Walk around the block and listen to a podcast, or enjoy the sounds of the outdoors, before heading back for an afternoon of work. And always, always sign off at a normal time; don’t let presenteeism encroach into your home-working days.
Set an Hourly Alarm for Water & Stretching
Something I’ve only recently adopted is setting a regular alarm to remind myself to fill up my water bottle or drink it, and do some light stretching. One of my past workplaces was soooo good at encouraging us to do this; trained professionals would come round and teach you stretches that you could do at your desk. So I try and do these once an hour or so to keep my body mobile. If space and your own body permits, you could also take your laptop stand and work standing up for a period of time, which is great for posture!
Make a To-Do List, the WFH Way
The humble pen-and-paper to-do list hits differently when you work from home. Of course there’s the BAU tasks to check off and often an exhaustive list of Important Things to get through, but the obvious benefit of WFH is that you have your work hours to yourself. No colleagues to drop by your desk and ask whether or not you’ve received their email. No snack announcements to distract you from a great workflow. It can be really easy, from experience, to a) dilly-dally for hours not knowing where to start because a new environment can be sensory overload, or b) overwhelm yourself with 101 things to do, so make the most of minimal distractions.
My one to-do list tip is to write down three big ‘goals’ for the week. List out your five days or use the CGD London Weekly Desk Pad, and divvy out the tasks that you do throughout the week, to ensure you reach each goals. As an example, my big goal for the week might be to complete the first draft of a 1000-word editorial feature. Here’s my weekly break down in manageable chunks:
Monday: AM — Create a skeleton framework for the feature. (30 mins)
PM — Research key themes for feature. (45 mins)
Tuesday: AM — Collect quotes and write first paragraph. (1 hour)
PM — Further research according to skeleton. (1 hour)
Wednesday: Write and complete first draft. (1 morning)
Thursday: Write introduction, headline, meta data. (1.5 hours)
Friday: Final round of edits and send to editor. (2 hours)
Remember to Take a Breather!
Last but not least, remember to take a breather and make time for yourself. Whether you’re WFH because you’re waiting in for a tradesman or because you’re looking after a poorly child, take time for you. Of course don’t just sack off work for five hours and be completely unreachable, but don’t be afraid of heading out for a midday walk or getting away from your workspace and reading for 30 minutes. These pockets of calm and ‘you-ness’ can ignite focus and creativity, and make you even more productive afterwards.
Other posts I’ve created about working from home:
- These Are Some Things I Do When Working from Home
- Weekly Organisation Tips for my Freelance Lifestyle
- My Work-Life Balance
- I’m Not Busy and It Feels Good
- Why I’m Not Letting My Career Define Who I Am
Happy working-from-home!! Share your one top tip for home office life with the Daisybutter community below!