As the COVID-19 cases continue to surge in number, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that we are headed for a possible lockdown. Already, some employers have requested their workforce to adopt a work-from-home model to stay safe from the rapidly spreading virus. If you are among those who have found themselves working from home, on behalf of all freelance writers on online workers I say “Welcome onboard!”
With an IT background, I have worked as a technical freelancer, curating IT blog posts for clients around the world on various online platforms for 2 years now. My foray into freelance writing was triggered by the need to generate a passive income which thereafter became my main source of income after the company I worked for folded up citing economical challenges. I consider myself lucky for the soft landing that my side gig gave me during that tumultuous period and I’ve never looked back.
Sometime this year, I’ll be marking 3 years of a successful work-from-home career. It’s been a rollercoaster of a journey, but with some discipline and grit, I’ve somehow managed to get a hang of it.
As an experienced work-from-home person I have come across lots of misleading advice on what it takes to be successful in working remotely. For instance:
You must have a separate room for your office: Let’s face it, not everyone owns a mansion or has a separate room that is not being put into use. Whilst it may be ideal having a separate room that can be converted into an office, You can always find some space in your living room or bedroom and fix a table and a comfortable chair and you are good to go. You can work from your couch, rocking chair, or even by the poolside. It’s purely a matter of personal preference.
You need special tools: If most of your work entails getting things done online, then all it takes is a laptop and a stable internet connection. And probably a notebook and a pen.
Stick to “work hours”: Unless you have a time-sensitive task like video conferencing or Skyping, remote work gives you the flexibility of scheduling your own working hours. You can work away the entire night and sleep during the day. What’s important is getting the work done.
You need to dress the part: C’mon really? Okay, it may work for others, but working in your pyjamas or drawers won’t prevent you from sending that important assignment.
What it takes to work from home
Transitioning from the office environment to working from home is not as seamless as many people might seem to think. Usually, the coziness at home is likely to cause a lull and impact your productivity. Social media and Netflix is likely to throw you off balance. Trust me, those are one of the greatest time stealers.
So how do you make the most of your time at home and post maximum productivity? Here are a few tips:
Plan your day beforehand
Working from home does not diminish the value of your job. Your work comes first, and much of your focus should be directed to getting things done and meeting your targets. You may have kids to look after or something else that may compete with your work in getting your attention.
For this reason, planning your day is paramount in making the most of your day. Usually, I’d advise planning your day beforehand as you turn in for the night. Create a mental picture of what needs to be done the following day and determine which tasks need to come first. Separate your chores from work-related chores. Planning your day ahead of time saves you copious amounts of time that you’d have spent in decision making. So before you have a restful shut-eye tonight, draft a to-do list for tomorrow.
Maintain a daily ritual
Creating a routine is one of the powerful catalysts to helping stay focussed and keep you going. The same way you had a routine when reporting for work is the same way you should maintain one when working from home. It could be as simple as waking up at 6:00 am, taking a shower, having breakfast and rolling your sleeves. Or taking a nap in the afternoon to cool off or taking a stroll in the estate in the evening. Adopt a regular sleeping pattern. Having a daily routine will help you foster habits that will increase your productivity and help keep you from activities that are likely to waste your time and impact your progress.
Don’t overdo it
I tend to switch off after working for 3 hours. My thinking becomes foggy and consequently, my productivity takes a dip. For some, their battery will run out after 4 hours or 5 hours. When you run out of juice, take a breather. Put on some good music, grab a snack, read a magazine, take a stroll or an afternoon nap. You get the picture. Intermittent breaks will help reinvigorate your mind and give you the impetus to keep going.
Starve your distractions
I won’t lie to you, I have been guilty in allowing distractions to come in the way pf my work. Quite often, I have constantly found myself on Facebook, Twitter or watching a clip on YouTube when I should be penning down an urgent article. I’m guilty of putting off work and hanging out with my friends when I should be doing some important research. Or doing some other unimportant tasks that steal my time and add no value.
With time, however, I have learned to starve my distractions. The trick is to give yourself a work curfew within which you are supposed to complete a task after which you can access your social media handles or watch a movie. Before I can glance at what’s happening in FaceBook or get a glimpse of the trending topics on Twitter, I endeavor to complete a project or work on a task for about 2 hours. Remember, your work always comes first and much of your time should be directed towards it.
That said, working from home should be as hard as people make it appear. At the same time, it requires a decent amount of discipline and dedication to get your job done. Of course, there will be slow days. Days that you won’t feel like kicking your duvet away and all you want to do is remain in bed. Mental fatigue will be another enemy that can drastically slow you down and power blackouts will stop you in your tracks. Life isn’t perfect and all you can do is take it in your stride and hope for a better day tomorrow. All days won’t be the same but thankfully, you can always recover and get your mojo back. Lastly, enjoy working from home and stay connected with your colleagues and stay up to speed with what’s happening around you.