As I record this in mid-March 2020, the spread of coronavirus means that many more people will be working from home. I left my day job in 2011 and I know it's a challenge to adapt to a new working environment, so in this short video, I provide 5 tips for how to effectively work from home, whether you choose to, or whether circumstance forces you into it. Stay safe, creatives!
In this video I cover:
- Establish a routine
- Set aside a specific place for your work
- Time blocking and timed work periods
- Get out of the house and preferably into nature
- Connect with your loved ones and your community online
You can find more tips in Productivity for Authors: Find Time to Write, Organize your Author Life, and Decide What Really Matters
Hello, Creatives. I'm Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com and today I'm doing a short video on working from home since as I record this in March 2020 it's becoming a reality for many more people now. I've been working from home since I left my day job in 2011 to become a full-time author entrepreneur, so I know it can be difficult at first. So, I have a few tips for you today.
(1) Establish a routine
Now, I know this is difficult, but if you're working from home, you don't necessarily need to set the alarm and get up and get to your desk at a certain time. But let me tell you, it's a lot easier if you do because otherwise, you end up wandering around going, ‘well, what shall I do?'
Then you'll be checking your phone too much, checking the news, and it will all just fall apart. So I would suggest that you try to follow the same routine as you would do normally. So yes, I'd suggest setting your alarm, having your shower. You don't need to put on the suit if you do wear a suit to work, but certainly put on some clothes and get out your pajamas and try to get to your work desk within your home office or your workspace, at a decent time.
(2) Set aside a specific place for your work within your home
Now I know that many people will find it impractical to have a home office, a separate room. If you have a big enough house, then fantastic. Make sure you have an office to go to. But many people won't be able to do that. The important thing is to set aside a specific place, maybe even just one end of the kitchen table, somewhere where you wouldn't normally sit.
It's very important to separate the place where you work from the place where, for example, you watch Netflix or if you do gaming, then where you do gaming. The brain likes to have routine, and if you're going to be working from home for an extended period, maybe even if you intend to do so, then you need to make sure you have a specific place for that.
So even if it is a chair in a specific corner with a laptop or something, you need to make sure that it is a different place to where you do other things. It just helps your brain separate the different things you're going to do.
(3) Time blocking and timed work periods
Now it can be very difficult when you start working from home because the time seems to stretch on you.
Like, ‘Oh, well I've got all day to do this thing.' But time seems to disappear, especially if you're checking the news and your Skyping with colleagues or you get text messages or WhatsApp messages, and that can be very distracting. And what you can find is that the hours go past and you haven't actually done anything.
This is just as hard for writers because you can sit down to do some work and if you just have an open time period, it can feel like you don't get anything done. So what it would suggest is you set aside a time block that might be 20 minutes. If you're trying to write something, it might be longer.
If you are trying to achieve a bigger task, I tend to like doing an hour, at least turn off all your phone notifications. You can even unplug from the internet if you want to go hard. Then set a timer. And this is a really important part of it. Set a timer so you know you have a specific time block and then do the work.
This is important because it's very hard to focus otherwise, especially when things are going a bit nuts in the world around us. So set a timer and then concentrate, turn off notifications, do your work in that different place, and then when the timer goes off, then you can go check social media. You can go check your email, then you can get back online, check the news, etc. But if you don't have these time blocks, it can be really hard to get anything done.
(4) Get out of the house
Now, I realize that as I record this, we might be moving into a time of social distancing, and some people may even be in quarantine, but there are ways that you can get out of the house without coming into contact with other people.
Obviously, if you're sick, you're not going to do this, but if you can and you're working from home, then you can go into your garden. Even if it's raining, get some fresh air, stand there with an umbrella, and actually breathe some air out of your house.
If you can go for a walk, say, for example, I live quite near a canal where I can go for a walk and I don't have to touch anyone or be near anyone. I can just go for a walk. Being outside and seeing nature is also really important. When things seem a bit crazy, I'm hearing the birds singing and we have a little snail colony near us.
I like visiting the snails, seeing the flowers. These things can help us get some perspective.
Because sometimes if we're at home and things are going a little crazy, it can feel even more intense. But if you get outside and especially if you have an animal, you walk your dog or whatever, you can still manage to get outside in nature oftentimes without having to be close to other people.
So I find that getting out of the house every day is really important to my mental health. And that is a very important part of our life.
(5) Connect with your loved ones and your community online
If you don't have a way to connect with the community, now is a really good time to sort that out. If you're a writer, of course, there are lots of groups on Facebook [I recommend the Alliance of Independent Authors which has a private FB group]. There's Twitter and other social media.
It's very important to have a community that you can talk to at this time. If you are trying to set up things with family, then help people with Skype and other devices where you can contact people without physically seeing them. This can be a really good idea.
Now, if you work from home for a long time, then you will have your online networks and they are incredibly important to your life as a creator, as well as just a member of society.
So make sure you do your work, get outside in nature, but also check in with your friends and family over time. So those are just some of my tips from working from home for nearly a decade now.
And I have some more tips in my book, Productivity for Authors, which is available in ebook, print, and audiobook narrated by me. So happy writing, stay sane and stay healthy and I'll see you next time.