Due to the new government directives put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, many people find themselves working from home now. 

I have been running my business since 2012, and during that time I have transitioned from working in clients’ offices to working completely remotely. This has meant I have been able to travel to China, Malta, Spain and Tenerife in the past 6 months and continue running my business the whole time. And crucially it means that since the outbreak of coronavirus, operationally my work life has not changed one bit.

This may be completely new to you, and I know for many this sudden transition will be tough. So how do you keep motivated? How do you stop getting distracted? 

 

Get dressed and ready like you would for work

This is a psychological thing, and it’s true. 

I delivered a workshop via Zoom last week when many people were in their first few days of working from home. Many of the participants didn’t want to turn their camera on and say ‘hi’, because they were in their pyjamas. And that’s fine, for the short term.

The novelty of this new working arrangement means people are understandably thinking, “I can work from bed/in my pyjamas and I don’t have to shower or brush my teeth because I won’t be seeing anyone!” I know this, because I’ve been there.

The long term effects of this, though, are a drop in productivity and motivation. You will feel less professional and this will impact on the work you do.

Get up, get showered and dressed and if you can, set yourself up in a dedicated workspace that feels as professional as possible.

 

Shift your mindset

I have noticed that people feel much more relaxed about what hours they are working now they are working from home, and that is a good thing. If you want to take time off in the week, and work at the weekend instead to make up for it, that is OK. I do it all the time and my business does not break. It makes me happier and gives me more freedom.

My ‘official’ hours are 10-6, Monday to Friday. All this means is I have boundaries. I don’t want clients thinking they can call me at all hours of the evening or during the weekend when I might be relaxing with family or friends. My phone is on and open to client calls during my official opening hours. If I want to take calls or answer emails outside of these hours/days, I can, but that is my choice. I don’t want clients to expect a response from me.

As a business owner it is less about the hours I work, and more about getting the work done. I haven’t started a business to create another 9-5 job for myself. I started it so I could have more freedom and control over my life.

 

Take advantage of the benefits

Working from home is great. Without that daily commute you have just won yourself more time. Use that time wisely.

Because you’re in your own home, you can use your lunch break to do some yoga or meditate. I find this helps keep me focussed in the afternoons.

You can structure your own time and use it however you wish. Through experience, I now know some very important things about myself and how I work:

  • I write better in the morning, so I write client’s blogs first thing in the morning.
  • If I’m tired, I will not produce quality work. So I don’t do client work when I’m tired. But I can manage some bookkeeping, so I do this instead.
  • I am not a morning person, so I don’t start work early. 10am works great for me. There’s no shame in that and I still run a successful business without getting up at 6am.

You might not know these sorts of things about yourself until you’ve been doing it for several months. Tune into your own energy and listen. 

 

Distractions, distractions… Everywhere

“I’ll just do this bit of washing up… I’ll just tidy the coffee table… I’ll just make a cup of tea…” The list goes on. The distractions are endless and everywhere.

Personally I find it easier to work from home because I don’t have colleagues popping over for a chat, office phones ringing or other interruptions. But for many this new working environment is more of a challenge.

I use a productivity technique called The Pomodoro Technique, and it really works for me. I work for 20 minutes, then take a 1 minute break. Work for another 20 minutes, and take another 1 minute break. Then I work for another 20 minutes, and take a full 5 minute break. Rinse and repeat.

In these short breaks, you can get up, look around the room and quickly tidy that coffee table or put that wash on. This way you are allowing yourself to do the things that were distracting you but in a structured way, with 20 minute bursts of focussed work activity in between.

The added benefit of this technique is that you are not sat in your chair for hours. I find it’s great for preventing an aching back and shoulders. It keeps your blood circulating when you’re moving around, making you more productive and creative.

Some distractions are unavoidable though…

 

Final thoughts

  • Work on your most important task first thing in the morning
  • Don’t start the day by checking your emails, unless you’re expecting something really important. Leave it until 11am or midday. The world will not break and it will give you the chance to get your most important task done first.
  • Limit the number of times you check your emails in a day. Check them at 11/12, then again at 3/4pm. This has only caused a problem for me once in the last 7 years.
  • Turn off notifications from emails and social media. They are a HUGE distraction.
  • If you find social media a big distraction, download an app to limit the number of hours you spend on certain apps.

And lastly just to say, this is horrible right now, but it will pass. Life will change forever because of this, but I hope for the better. Stay well, stay safe and stay home.