For expats living in rural destinations, working from home is the norm. But as fun as it sounds to walk three steps from your bedroom to your study and get to business in your pjs, working from home can be really difficult. It’s hard to find the same stimulation, motivation and productivity you’d have in an office.
I’ve been working from home for almost three years now and over that time, I’ve picked up some tricks and tips that have definitely helped me focus more and get things done during the day.
keep track of what to do
At the start of every week, I write a to-do list of everything I want achieve over those five days. Then I break it up into daily lists and break those up into achievable steps that I can follow during the day. That way I have a list of everything that needs doing each day and don’t get distracted by less important tasks.
NB: There’s no point giving yourself more work than you can do in one day, so be realistic. You don’t want some huge list that you freak out over every time you re-read it.
beautify your space
Whether you have a dedicated office space or not, it’s important to keep your area clean, organised and free from distractions. I don’t want to see a load of shirts that need ironing every time I look up!
At the very least, make sure you have everything you need – pens, papers, diaries, calculators – within reach, so you don’t have to keep getting up to root through drawers in search of an eraser. My desk has a few personal items to keep me motivated like a picture of my husband, a pot plant and a few muesli bars in case I get hungry. I know I can just get up and go to the fridge, but having food on my desk stops me from heading to the kitchen where there are plenty of distractions (hello dirty breakfast dishes).
keep your own hours
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you should have crazy hours. Set yourself the timeframe you need to get everything done. If that’s 9 to 5, great! If you prefer 10 to 7, that’s fine too. As long as you’re getting everything done, there’s no need to feel guilty about not keeping regular hours.
At the same time, you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting distracted on YouTube for 10 minutes at 11:30. If you’ve ever worked in an office, you know no one sits down at 9 and works without stopping until 5. They read the news, they get up for coffee and they chat to colleagues. You need breaks throughout your day too! A quick skim of your favourite cooking website or blog will refresh you and help you stay focused.
On that note, when you do decide to set those hours, stick to them. Don’t get distracted by household chores. Imagine that you’re at the office and leave the dishes or dinner prep for when you clock off. When lunchtime rolls around, try not to waste three hours preparing a feast just because you can. Keep your meals and your lunch breaks brief and efficient just like you would if you were in an office.
mix it up
The worst thing imaginable to me is working on the same task for endless hours. I find I’m the most productive when I move from task to task. If I’m staring at a blank page when I should be writing an article, I know my brain is fried and I need to wake it up with something else like editing photos or planning a shoot for the blog. This clears my mind and usually I feel refreshed and ready to roll when I return to the task.
get out and about
Working from home can be lonely! After a couple of months of solitude, you might feel like you’re going stir crazy, especially if you don’t have any colleagues or clients to communicate with.
My trick is to get out of the house. If I find I’m feeling antsy, I’ll stop what I’m doing and go for a walk. I might head to the supermarket or a cafe and just chill for 20 minutes with other people around me. I don’t necessarily have to have a conversation with them. It’s nice to just get out of the house and remember I’m not the only person on the planet.
dress to impress
My last tip is a little controversial. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you should work in your pjs. I try to keep the same morning routine I had when I worked in an office. I get up, have a shower, dry my hair properly, dress and eat breakfast before I head into my study.
I could very easily spend all day every day in track pants and a t-shirt, but I don’t because I think the way you dress is closely connected to your psyche. I don’t want to feel like I’m bumming around home doing nothing. I want to feel like I’m still a working professional even if I am at home. So I wear comfortable, pretty outfits and look presentable, even if it’s only the cat that sees me.
Hopefully you’re inspired to start working from home too! It’s not all that bad! xx