8 Tips on How to Work From Home by a Travel Blogger
With the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 in early 2020, big companies like Google have been moving rapidly to contain the spread among its workforce by letting their employees work from home.
It has become more and more prevalent now that working remotely is the way of the future and in a situation like this, the only option available to stay safe and maintain the level of productivity a business requires.
I have been working remotely since 2012 when I decided to quit my office job, start freelancing and have been working remotely, both from abroad and from home ever since. Now, that I have been travel blogging full-time for the past 2 years, I have learned a lot on how to manage my workload and optimize my workflow at home.
Working from home is definitely not for everyone and it requires a lot of willpower and self-control consistently and confidently unlike anything you have done before and if you are one of those people who are asked to work from home during this tough time, here are a few tips I can give you to maximize your comfort and efficiency.
1. Create a Routine
One of the first things I learned after working sporadically while traveling the world is that my productivity dropped dramatically if I do not work in a routine.
You see, our brains work in different ways at a different time and without a proper routine that fits the type of person you are, you will likely be utilizing your brain ineffectively hence affecting your work outcome without knowing it.
For example, I know that I am a morning person and so I will often work on the hardest task that requires my brain to be fully engaged first things first in the morning right after coffee (very important for me 🤣) and leave the mundane tasks for the evening when my brain is not at its best.
You may be an early bird like me or a night owl who works best at night, and so it is important to create a routine that will allow you to maximize your creativity and productivity to the fullest depending on your preferences.
Set up a routine for weekdays just like when you are at an office, for example, wake up at 8 AM, breakfast at 9 AM, start working until 12 PM, go for lunch until 1 PM, and focus on more mundane tasks until 4 - 5 PM, and enjoy your free time for the rest of the day.
2. Create a Personal Workspace
This is also another important point on how to work from home effectively. Having your own personal space that is not on a sofa or in your bedroom is essential to keeping you productive for the rest of the day.
Find a space that you can work without any distractions and commit to working in your workspace every day. This will allow your mind to associate the environment with working and help prepare your body and mind for the task at hand.
Make sure that your workspace is ergonomically comfortable with an office chair that has a lumbar support, a table that is low enough for your hands to be in slightly 90° angle, especially if you work on a computer all day, and make sure there is enough natural light coming in so that you will feel more energetic when you are in your workspace.
Do not work on a sofa in front of a TV. This is a sure way to get yourself constantly distracted and/or fall asleep unintentionally. Also, avoid working near a bed as for me, a bed is like a magnet. It keeps pulling me in for a nice little nap and then 3 hours later, I ended up even more tired and still, got nothing done all day.
3. Maintain a To-Do List
This is one of the easiest yet most important changes to make when you start working from home. When I started working remotely for the first time, I was completely lost and was struggling to keep myself motivated throughout the day due to the fact that I did not have a particular goal in mind.
After a few months of aimlessly shooting for a non-existing goal, I decided to use Google Tasks, which is perfectly embedded within Gmail, and started maintaining my to-do list every day. I often create new tasks in the morning and ticking them off one-by-one at the end of the day.
With a to-do list, it allows you to trim down big tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks that you can focus on each day and by the end of that day, you can see exactly what you have accomplished and what you can expect to work on the next day.
4. Eat Properly at Proper Time
With all the talks about the importance of working effectively while at home, you might sometime forget that without your good health, none of these tips matter. Working from home can really ruin your body if you are not careful and so it is important that you have a proper meal at a proper time each day.
Set up your preferred lunchtime and dinnertime and commit to them. For me, I would often go for lunch at 1 PM and dinner at 6 PM with enough time to digest before going to bed before midnight. With the constant in-take throughout the day, you will have the energy to tackle your work stay productive while working at home.
5. Optimize your Communication Tools
I use to work as a freelance before I became a travel blogger and with that job, I had to be in communication with many people in the company I was working for and so I know how important it is to stay connected and keep the work flowing while working at home.
Be sure to optimize your communication tools before you start working from home. Your company may have their own list of preferred communication tools but if not, I often use Slack to communicate with people company-wide, and if there is something urgent, I often use Skype to talk directly to the people I am working with.
That said, I always keep the communication on Skype below the 15 minutes mark and no more than once per week as you don't want a Skype session turning into a daily meeting which personally I think is a waste of time and is not compatible with a healthy work-life balance we are aiming for. Keep your Skype communication, short, concise, and straight to the point.
6. Maintain a Regular Schedule and Stick to It
One of the things that working in an office gets right is providing you with a regular schedule to stick to. With working from home, you can be unintentionally interrupted by almost anything throughout the week, or worst, you might unknowingly work overtime and lead you down the rabbit hole of being burned out.
To avoid these problems, you need to keep a regular schedule and make sure to stick to it whenever you can. For example, I would often work from 9 AM - 4 PM with several breaks scheduled throughout my day, 5 days a week, and ended my work right at 4 PM sharp.
There might be some situations where I might have to move the time slot around but I will always compensate for the change and will continue to stick to the schedule I came up after so that my life does not intervene in my productivity.
7. Do NOT work after Hours
Continuing from the point above, I can not stress how important it is to maintain work hours within a reasonable time frame. When working from home, the line between work and leisure can be blurred to the point that can lead you to burn out which is something I will never put myself through again.
If I set my work to end at 4 PM, any work that comes after 4 PM, the client can expect it the next day. I made this very clear with all my clients (or even when I was working in an office) early on and with their expectation managed, I was able to keep myself sane and work with them more effectively in the long run.
It is important to manage your employer's expectations when it comes to deliverables. Do not set yourself for failures and do the work that comes after the end of your workday. Once you do it once, your employer will expect you to do it again. Manage their expectations, stick to your schedule, and do not overdo your work.
8. Stay Healthy - Exercise
Last but not least, keep your self healthy and exercise regularly! Now, that you are working at home and have been freed from the nightmare of commuting through the horrendous traffic jam, you now have the time to stay healthy and work on yourself, ideally starting an exercise routine after work.
Recent scientific research has claimed that in order for your body to be healthy, you will need at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise per week.
With you working at home and sticking to your schedule religiously, you should have more time and energy to finally start integrating exercise into your daily routine. That way, your mind, and body will be synchronized which should drastically improve your work performance as well as your health and so much more.
The Solo Traveler’s Resources is a series of posts by Bucketlistly where we will explore the ways of life of nomads including how we work, travel, and what we carry in our backpack.
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