freelancer's tips

As a business owner and avid “work from home” fan, the self-isolation thing that comes with the coronavirus outbreak is not new to me. This is my life! Except now I have my kids at home with me, which is pretty awesome. I know some of you are battling with the new setup, and are possibly losing your minds, but just think how fortunate you are that you actually can work from home. There are so many service-based businesses that would love to be in your shoes.

So that’s the first thing you need to do: acknowledge the fortuitous position you are in. Be grateful that you are still able to earn money during this crazy episode of life on Earth.

Here are a few of my own tips that will help you crush your new “work from home” lifestyle without strangling kids or filing for divorce.

Maintain A Morning Routine

I admit that my alarm is not set for 5:30 am anymore as I don’t have to sit in traffic to get my kids to school. However, it is set for 6:30 am, which is reasonable. Having a set morning routine is key to getting your day started right. Get going quickly, without mooching around and scrolling through social media. You’re not on holiday, you’re simply getting your day started differently.

Top tip for productivity: get up and make your bed. That simple act alone will help you roll into the day instead of rolling back into bed.

Get Dressed For A Normal Day

Staying in your PJs all day is a one-way trip to letting yourself go. It might seem like a great idea for the first few days, but you might find that it starts leading you towards depression. It’s easy to feel a little down during these times of uncertainty, so it’s important you do whatever it takes to lift yourself up.

  • Shower or bath, wash your face, brush your teeth
  • If you wear make-up and it makes you feel good, then put that face on
  • Brush your hair and do whatever it is you normally do with it
  • Get dressed in clothing that is comfortable, but makes you feel good about yourself

I had such a giggle when I saw one of my friends having a video call with his work colleagues and he was all suited up, tie and all. If that’s what makes you feel good, then roll with it and champion your day! You are still in charge here, so dress the part.

Create A Designated Office Space

The couch is a great place to work, especially with Netflix rolling in the background. But let’s be honest, it’s not really conducive to getting stuff done. Create a designated space that will now be known as your office. You don’t know how long you will be doing this “work at home” thing, so you need to make sure you’re comfortable and that it suits your needs.

If you have a desk and chair, use them. Get all your notebooks, stationery, plants, knick-knacks and any other things together to make it feel like your workspace. When you sit down, it should feel like a place where you want to make magic happen! It should be a space that helps you thrive.

Allow Yourself Time To Play

All work and no play makes for a really dull day. Don’t limit yourself to extended hours in front of your laptop or device. You’re at home! Use it to your advantage!

The best thing to do is intersperse your working hours with a bit of physical activity. Whether it is strolling around the garden, jumping in the pool for a quick refresh, or walking around the block with the dogs and the kids. If you have kids, schedule breaks where you can play games with them or help them out with whatever they’re doing.

For me, I tend to squeeze in household chores during screen breaks. Hanging up the washing, stacking the dishwasher, emptying the dishwasher etc. All those menial tasks are an opportunity for your brain to process information and even problem-solve. If you get stuck on something with your work or are battling with inspiration, do something that allows you to autopilot and switch off. It’s in those moments that the solutions suddenly pop into your brain, or you manage to see things from a different perspective.

Make A List Of Your Daily Deliverables

Maybe this is me and my aging memory, but I need to write things down in an order of priority. Each day, I start a new page of actual paper, and using an actual pen, I write down all the tasks I need to achieve in order of importance. Keeping a record of what I need to do keeps me on track.

As I achieve them, I cross them off, which gives me incredible satisfaction. It’s almost as if I haven’t yet achieved that task until I’ve physically drawn a line through it with my pen. This is akin to being rewarded with tokens or badges in a gamified application, just old school.

Zoom, Skype And Hangouts Are Your BFFs

If you’re feeling isolated and in need of some human interaction, schedule daily stand-ups or regular meetings to touch base with your team. Zoom is a wonderful invention, as are all the online video conferencing platforms. You will almost feel like you’re back at work in your boardroom, provided you have a great Wi-Fi connection.

On that note: make sure you have a great Wi-Fi connection. Everything hinges on this. Upgrade it if you need to.

Accept That The Fridge Will Always Call You

You are at home. Snacks are a few metres away. Accept this and plan accordingly by keeping healthy snacks readily available. The last thing you want to deal with on top of coronavirus, mass panic, and the total disruption of your working environment, is growing three times your size during the process. Stay fit, stay healthy, and eat clean to keep your system at its peak.

My go-to snacks between meals are apples, carrots, sugar snap peas, raw almonds, raw cashews, plums, peaches, nectarines, cereal bars, and loads of herbal tea!

Make Time For Exercise Daily

When you are cooped up in your home all day, every day, you need to get out… even if it’s just out the gate into your neighbourhood. The best part is that you will have available time now because you don’t need to commute to work. Use that time wisely and squeeze in some exercise. Go for a run, go for a brisk walk, get on your yoga mat, or do a workout through an app. Whatever it is that you favour, just get out there and do it.

You will feel more refreshed, more productive, and you’ll cope with the strain you’re under a lot easier. Making this a daily habit will help you rock this work-at-home game with ease.

When All Else Fails… Breathe

When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with cabin fever, screaming kids, not having anyone to talk to, or simply being inundated with work (lucky you… again, be grateful you can pull an income), take a step back and take a deep breath. Hold it for five seconds, and exhale slowly for five seconds. Do this a few times until your heart rate returns to normal and until you feel a state of calm washing over you.

The beautiful thing about this is that we are all in it together. Everyone is experiencing disruption and we all have different ways of dealing with it. You might feel like you’re failing one day, and charging ahead the next. Take it day by day and don’t fret about the smaller details. This too shall pass and we will all be okay in the end.

Photo by Anna Auza on Unsplash.

Katherine Stott
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