Tips For Working From Home - 1 Month Update!
If any of you follow me on Instagram you will know that I recently left my full time day job in order to start Uni this month. I’ve been very vocal about how i’m finding the transition so far over on my socials, plus it’s been approximately a month so far, so I thought it would be a perfect time to tell you about how it’s been.
I left on a Thursday and had the Friday to relax and process the emotional event that was leaving a job I had worked in for 3 and a half years. Then it was the Bank Holiday weekend so I was preoccupied with that, meaning that I officially got in the swing of it on the Tuesday. I think it was a mixture of being incredibly emotional at such a big change in my life and routine and not really knowing where to start that meant that I felt weird and unproductive for at least the first week and a bit.
Going from working a full time job in the day and working on your business in the evenings and weekends to having all day to work on your business, I found quite strange. At first it was as if my brain wasn’t as motivated to do everything because it was used to having barely any time and now it had loads. So I was used to having to cram all my work in to tiny amounts of time and now that it had all of the time, it was struggling to cope. I think from speaking to other creatives that have made this leap, there is a real transitional period that people don’t really speak about. I had the assumption that I would leave my day job and would be able to go straight into working from home because when I would have days off from my full time job, I was super productive. I quickly realised that it wasn’t going to be that way when you don’t have a regimented job for someone else to do.
I understand now that it was always going to take time to adjust as you are going from working for someone else and putting your business and dreams on the side burner to now being in charge of you work, your productivity and having your business centre stage. I asked on Instagram for tips for working from home and I began to try out a few to see how they would make me feel.
1. Getting dressed - People always say to make sure that you get dressed properly in order to make sure that you don’t get too comfortable and lazy with your working. I tried it for one day in jeans and a shirt and that day was more productive but I’ve switched to comfy leggings and a shirt to compromise. I found jeans were too restrictive for me to sit comfortably at my desk all day so I’m comfy on the bottom but business on top and I find that works well for me.
2. Eat away from your desk - I am very guilty of eating most of my meals at my desk as I normally watch a Youtube video or something whilst I do it. I tried eating my breakfast, lunch and snacks at my dinner table for a whole day and I did find it was actually quite helpful. I was able to designate food time with browsing my phone, which meant that I was less inclined to use my phone at my desk when I should be working. It also allowed me a clear separation between eating and working which meant I actually gave myself lunch breaks rather than the time it took me to eat and that’s it. This meant that my productivity was actually better as I had clear breaks to re-jig my focus.
3. Listen to music or podcasts - As I said before I usually watch Youtube videos when I work and sometimes it works but I am the sort of person that puts something to watch on in the background and I find myself watching it more than working. I’ve discovered that working for yourself means finding what works best for you and doing that as much as possible. That doesn’t mean that I can’t watch programs in the background whilst I work it just means that I should limit it when I want/need to actually get work done. I have found that listening to music and podcasts works best for me when I’m writing blog posts, drawing or packing orders. There’s nothing I can get distracted by watching and it allows me to focus, be motivated or be happy depending on what I’m listening to.
4. Set achievable to do lists and write Done lists - I found that during my first couple of days I would end the day feeling quite disappointed with myself because I hadn’t achieved all the tasks I had written down, even though I did do lots of work. So I came up with the idea of writing Done lists at the end of the day because the work day can throw up unscheduled tasks. This means you’re still busy and have been productive but because it wasn’t on your original list, it looks as though you’ve not been working, when you have. A Done list has been working well for my own motivation and self-esteem, so I think I will definitely carry it on.
5. Allow yourself to rest and lie in if needed - When I was working full time and I had a day off it was so easy to wake up at 7am or earlier so I would have as much time as possible to work on my business. When I left my job and could have as much time as I wanted to work on the business, waking up at 7am became a lot harder. It could have been that now the sun rises later, my body clock was adjusting but I think that I punished myself for waking up at 8/9am for the first week more than I should have. I was still processing the big emotional change, was still feeling overwhelmed with it all and I should have allowed myself the flexibility without feeling as though I was failing. One day I allowed myself to sleep until 9am because my body needed it and I felt so much better and ultimately was more productive that day because I was less harsh on myself. As I am writing this (14th September) I have been waking when my boyfriend wakes up 6:30am and I have been finding it a lot easier this time round. From this, I have learnt that whilst I am more productive in the morning and I’m easily a early bird, I need to allow my body the rest that it needs. If I wake up an hour later, it’s not the end of the world. I need to work smarter rather than for longer.
6. Get some exercise in / get active - When I began to give myself designated lunch breaks I found that going for a walk to the shop etc was such a boost to my productivity, fitness and mental space. It’s not always possible everyday to get outside, if it’s raining I find it hard to go outside if I don’t have to but I try and do some form of exercise most days. If it’s not a little walk, I like to do Yoga when I can. It pays to be a little bit active, especially if you’re working from a desk all the time. Due to this I am looking to invest in an adjustable height desk after Christmas. Being able to adjust my desk from sitting to a standing position will mean that my back and blood circulation will be better and I can mix up how active I am for different tasks.
7. Give yourself frequent breaks - Regardless of whether or not you have an adjustable desk, making sure you take regular breaks to get up and walk around is important. It can allow your brain to refocus and the rest from screen time is beneficial. Spending long periods at my desk is something I’m guilty of and I’m trying to improve. I find I’m easily distracted if something else is messy or needs doing. For example if the dishwasher needs emptying and reloading, I’ll use that as a break incentive. Once I’ve done some work, I’ll go and do that task so it doesn’t distract me plus it means I’m up and away from my desk.
8. Use apps or extensions that block certain sites or apps that distract - When my phone is nearby I am frequently guilty of picking it up when I hear a ping and then end up scrolling for periods of time. No one is perfect at not scrolling through their phone but I am getting better at realising when I am aimlessly scrolling and stopping myself. There are blocking apps you can get for your phone or extensions for your browser that block access to your frequently used social media sites to help improve your productivity.
9. Allow your mood to dictate what tasks you do - I write a to do list for each day of tasks that I would like to do and I put the most time sensitive ones at the top so that I can focus on them and then allow my mood to dictate what ones I would like to do after that. I find that doing the most laborious or tedious tasks first can help your productivity as you have the more fun tasks to look forward to afterwards.
10. Find when you’re most productive and utilise that time - As I said before I am 100% an early bird, I love getting up early as I feel so more productive in the early hours of the day, when it’s quieter. I feel like I have so much more of the day to work with and I can get so much more done. I think it stems from working late for a few years at a music venue, my sleeping patterns were so all over the place because I wouldn’t get to bed until 4am and would then sleep through the day. I don’t ever want to have to go back to that pattern so I embrace and relish in being a morning person now. Therefore I am more productive and have more energy first thing in the morning and I can lull in the afternoon. I do my most important tasks in the morning and then take it slower in the afternoon.
I am by no means saying I have all the answers and that what works for me is the only way to do things. I am writing this post to say that it’s 100% okay to have a transitional stage when you leave a full time job to work for yourself and that it will take time to work out what works for you. No one really mentions a transitional stage, especially when you’re on social media it can seem as though people have their shit together and that you’re somehow failing because you’re working at different speeds. Everyone has bad days, good days, in between days. All that matters is that you are taking each day as it comes, always trying to move forward, finding out and trying different things that work for you. It’s important that if you do have unproductive days or feel unmotivated that you allow yourself to accept them for what they are, evaluate why you’re having a bad day and look for ways to improve that in the future. All feelings are valid feelings. No one has their shit together or perfect productive days 100% of the time.
I hope that this post may have helped some of you that are just starting to work from home, been working from home for years or are just considering it. We are all winging it and all anyone can ever do is try their best each and every day.