Having recently entered the world of virtual PR, there were a lot of unknowns when it came to working from home. The idea sounded great – working in comfortable clothes, access to unlimited snacks, the freedom to work from anywhere – but things aren’t always what they seem. After having floundered for the first few weeks, I finally started to find my rhythm and figure out what worked for me, literally. Although some seem obvious, I thought I’d share a list of ways in which I was able to successfully transition from cubicle to condo, to help others who are setting out to do so themselves:
Start your Day off Right
One of the many things I enjoy about my day is the start. Setting yourself up for a successful and productive work day can be elevated by creating a solid morning routine. I like to wake up, shower, make coffee and eat breakfast before I even think about checking emails. Another thing – getting dressed used to be something I rarely did, pyjamas are the best, am I right? But honestly, getting dressed has helped me to get into work mode for the day, put in the same effort you would if you were heading into an office. It’s a cue that I have created which allows for me to get in the right state of mind for a productive and smart work day.
Take Necessary Breaks
No one loves sitting at a desk for hours on end, so scheduling breaks is a necessity. I like to have my yoga mat rolled out and near me at all times so I can stretch and decompress my body when I need a break. Pocket Yoga is a great app that walks you through specific yoga poses, breathing techniques and even allows you to integrate your own music into the poses. I typically give myself a two song break, and then get back to work. If yoga isn’t for you however, making a quick snack, walking the dog, reading the newspaper, or even taking a dip in the pool (if you’re fortunate to have access to one) will do the trick.
Create a Distinct Work Space
For a while I found it hard to work from my desk without wandering around, moving to the couch or heading for the kitchen. After nailing down my morning routine and setting myself up for the day, I needed to set up a space dedicated to working. I was able to re-configure a guest room in a way that worked for me that included a desk, a papasan chair, and standing workstation (if you don’t know what a papasan chair is, you NEED one in your life). Giving myself a room dedicated to work while having three workstations still allowed flexibility in regards to where I work, while not confining me to a desk. It’s important to not only be productive, but also to enjoy your workspace. I have found this very helpful in keeping focussed and on-task, which flows directly into my next point.
Separate Work and Home Life
With a room dedicated specifically to work, it sounds easy for the lines of work and home to remain unblurred, but unfortunately it’s not always so simple. It’s important to both physically and mentally log off and leave work for the day. That’s not to say you can’t have flexible hours, but know when to turn your work brain off and home brain on. I’ve found it incredibly helpful to have a computer dedicated to work only. With 349 tabs saved, it’s easy to find yourself checking emails or logging onto a doc subconsciously in your off hours. What I’ve constantly had to remind myself is that the work will be there tomorrow and like a professor once told me “It’s PR not ER”.
Get Rid of Distractions
.. And by distractions I mean your cell phone. Typically, I allow myself to take a look at my phone once every two hours. Social Media breaks allow me to take 5 minutes, disconnect from the work I may be doing, and return reinvested. That being said, if I’m really on a roll, I won’t stop just to scroll through Instagram. There’s a time and a place, but removing your phone from your line of site can help to alleviate the desire to reach for it throughout the day.
Plan, Plan and Plan Some More
With a tad bit of self-diagnosed OCD, planning is my best friend. Organizing and planning my week allows my productivity levels to always be at their best. Knowing exactly what tasks I need to complete and goals I need to achieve each week are the motivators of my success. I am the type of person that has 17 notepads filled with notes and tasks, but at the end of the week the goal is that they are all crossed off. Something about drawing your pen across a task on a list unleashes the drive to want to do it until the list is complete. Personally, I don’t have any rave or amazing apps to suggest here, I’m a classic pen and paper type of girl, but I do know colleagues who rave about Wunderlist.
The Backbone of Productivity
What helps the most is being part of an amazing company that doesn’t hesitate to reach out and support their associates. Being backed by people who trust and believe in your work only helps to strengthen your capabilities and performance. While working from home can have its challenges, it can allow you the chance to figure out the best version of work-life balance for yourself.