10 things I’ve learned working from home
~600 days later
The big dream becomes a reality too soon. Before you even know it, you went all for it and you are already working from home, at your own desk, under your own terms, being your own boss. Everything seems so great and you pat yourself at your back feeling proud for the choice you’ve made. A smooth ride everything from here, you say. Well, not really!
The first week passes and then reality strikes back. Your boss is starting to be really mean to you and you don’t even know why. You just would like to open this one tab and enjoy some social media or the review of this great Video Game/Movie/TV show. Or go out for that coffee you’ve promised. Thinking about it, taking a nap would be a nice idea. Or answering that call since the phone keeps ringing. Work could wait. After all, you are working from home; you should be able to do whatever you want.
There are many things that may become an obstacle when you are working from home. You haven’t thought about them at the beginning, but that’s ok. You will figure them out in the process and you will enjoy it when you find something that helps you overcome them.
I would like to share what I’ve learned so far that helped me be more productive, save time and keep my own boss (can be really mean sometimes, believe me!) happy. So, let’s start!
1. When it’s not your day, get over it
In my opinion this is one of the most important things I’ve learned. There will be some days when you won’t be able to work. No matter what you do, you just won’t get there. If you try and push yourself those days, you won’t achieve much and most probably the work that you’ll do, will be at best mediocre. These are special days, when you should turn off your computer, stop trying to get anything done and just relax your mind doing things that you love. The next day, you will feel refreshed, more productive and eventually produce quality work in a shorter period of time.
2. Turn off that mobile phone
Another crucial decision that helped me along the way was to put my mobile phone into airplane mode when I’m working. It isn’t that I got that many calls but there were days that one phone call could distract me so much, that it was impossible for me to continue from where I left off. So, don’t be afraid to turn off your phone, especially if it is going to help you in the long run!
3. Start your work day the way you want
I know that the best time to get things done is early in the morning, after you wake up and your mind is fully relaxed. Nevertheless, my mind prefers to have a coffee first, read the news and even on some stressful days play a video game before starts working. This proved very helpful to me, so if you find yourself struggling to get started immediately after waking up, maybe you should consider doing something that you like first!
4. Set deadlines (trust me)
This is a simple and a really important one. If you do not set deadlines, you are going to have a bad time. There, I said it. It doesn’t matter what kind of deadline you are going to set, but believe me, if you do not, you will find yourself spending way more time on things that don’t matter or one of your projects will take much more time to finish. Also, try to go easy on yourself and be realistic with them at first. It took me over a year to eventually set deadlines for my own projects that I can keep up with, but it really helped me to have them in the first place!
5. Have a schedule that you follow
You are making your own schedule and you can work whatever hours you like. This is great but having specific hours and days you work in the week is even better. It doesn’t matter if you like working in the morning or in the night. By setting specific hours and days, will help your brain adjust and be more productive. At the same time, it will make your social life easier to handle and enjoy!
6. Take breaks
Taking breaks is one of the most important things you will have to do. I’m still trying to follow this simple rule because sometimes I get immersed in my work and forget about it. Many people like to take breaks every hour or so, and I wouldn’t agree more. It’s vital to not overwork your brain. I have experienced it a few times and it is always an unpleasant feeling!
7. Stay focused by setting goals
Set goals and read them out loud to yourself each day. Small or big, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that goals will help you stay focused and motivated. If you let your work set the goals for you, you will find yourself doing the same things every day and that won’t help you move forward!
8. Go out for a walk (it helps with stress)
Working from home can sometimes be really stressful and a walk can help you with this problem one way or the other. I always find myself more relaxed and calm after a nice walk. Stress can easily go away and you will think more clearly. As a bonus (if it’s a long walk!) inspiration and new ideas may strike, so it’s worth a try!
9. Discipline yourself (or at least try to!)
There are many apps out there that block your favorite sites when you are working to prevent you from procrastination. They can be really useful but they don’t solve the core problem (what if you procrastinate, let’s say, with something that is not digital — there is not an app for that!). It’s better to face the fact that we all like to procrastinate at least a bit and this is why it is so important to try discipline ourselves from the beginning. It may take a while but after a few months it won’t be an issue anymore and won’t affect your work!
10. Don’t forget to blink your eyes!
When you are working for hours in front of a screen, you usually focus persistently on a specific section and just like magic you cancel the auto blinking function your eyes have (which is vital for cleaning and keeping them wet). After a while, your eyes will dry out, turn red and start hurting (this is when you go full vampire!), so remind yourself to blink them more, it’s vital for your health!
Breaking the rules can be fun sometimes!
BONUS! 11. If you love what you do, everything will start making sense
I found out that when you do work that you love, you will always find that little something that will keep you inspired and motivated. Through that, you will always find solutions that work for you and eventually will enable you to work better and enjoy even more of what you do!
BONUS! 12. Never give up (unless you play a Dark Souls game)
I’m getting so close to finish it but I mean, come on! This game can be very difficult at times! I know it sounds cliché and maybe it is, but you shouldn’t give up, no matter what. After all, this expression became cliché for a reason! Sometimes, when working from home, things don’t go the way you would like to. You may feel frustrated and disappointed for many reasons. But that’s ok; it’s part of the process. Find the strength and motivation you need from people around you and things you love doing, and I’m sure that you will stop thinking about giving up. Happiness and the feeling of accomplishment will follow; there are parts of the process, too! :-)
The list finishes here but even if one thing helps someone improve her/his workflow just a tiny bit, I would be more than happy! I’m still working on improving my own but I think that eventually this is an integral part of working from home.
If you have any tips that you would like to share, feel free to let me know, you can find me on Twitter: @pixelcave