5 Ways to Successfully Work From Home

02/08/17

How To Be Productive At Home

Location: The Hamptons, New York
Being self employed and therefore able to dictate my own timetable, is something I truly love about my chosen career. My days are of my own creation and I work around the meetings and appointments that I have chosen to take on. Working from home is such a luxury and one I don’t think I’ll ever not appreciate. Not having to face the dreaded commute on a daily basis, especially living in London, I know is a dream position for so many.

I worked in retail while studying for my degree, I interned throughout my summers and then I was a lecturer at the University of Manchester after I finished my PhD. The combination of shop floor customer service, through to being chained to a desk from 9 till 5 followed by the combination of lecture theatres and office work, helps to me appreciate my situation even more so. Some people don’t realise it, but I did work before I became a fashion blogger, and I can absolutely relate.

Yet, although I adore working from home, of course I sometimes struggle with organising my own day. You’ve seen recently how I buried myself under too many events, meetings and travel in July but even when I don’t fill my calendar to the brim because of a case of FOMO, the working from home aspect of my job does sometimes  still derail me. It’s very rare that I spend an entire day at my desk, it’s more usually just a portion of it but no matter the time spent, it has taken me years to really be productive with my time in my own office. I thought that setting out a few of the ways I’ve learned to be productive might help anyone else out there struggling with their at home ‘freedom’ too.

DITCH THE DISTRACTIONS

It’s the greatest feeling when the rest of your week is spent flitting between different events to sit and play catch up in front of the computer but distractions are a huge issue for me. If the apartment isn’t completely tidy, I’ll often find I get up and wash the dishes, then I’ll go and fold some laundry and sometimes I’ll go all out and decide it’s time to reorganise my entire shoe collection by both brand, colour and style. Then I’ll remember I should have been working for the past 2 hours. The only way I know I can be productive now is to cancel out any distractions before I even think about sitting down to work. A quick tidy around the apartment, pop my phone on do not disturb and then closing the office door means I can actually get on with my work.

2

ROUTINE IS KEY

On the very rare occasion I get an entire day to myself at home, I relish the opportunity to spend hours making a dent in my emails and ticking off that ‘to do’ list that’s got on top of me during the week. Even though I don’t often get a 9-5 day at home, I still try to ensure my work is spread out like any day at the office would be. I give myself a break for lunch, I try to get up every hour to stretch my legs and I’ll reward myself with a coffee when I complete a task. My brain can only do so much and coming up for air, especially when I’m ‘in the zone’, ensures not only am I productive but the work I’m doing is up to scratch. When I get tired, I zone out and I procrastinate for hours at a time and then I lose so much of my day. So get up, move about and find some more energy when you feel that tiredness creeping. And another thing that’s key for me is to attempt to aim for an end to my day. I’ve often spoken about how I struggle to define my work day from my evenings with Alex but I find myself being able to ‘clock off’ more now than I ever have previously.

3

CREATE A PERSONAL SPACE

I would love to have a huge office space for both Alex and I to work in, but living in London and saving for our first home together definitely restricts us. We have all of our office tools and equipment crammed into just one room, but we make it work. We each have our own space filled with the things that help us to get on with our work, and I think that no matter what the space you have to work with, personalising it is the way to go. I have my favourite prints hanging on the wall above my desk, my diaries and notebooks to hand in front of me, and knowing my penchant for distractions, not too much else. Even if your work space doubles as your dining table in the evening, setting it up to work for you will always help you along.

4

SWITCH OFF THOSE EMAILS

This one has helped me to find an end to my working day more often than not. There are still those days where I find myself exceptionally motivated and literally can’t step away from my work, but 9 times out of 10 I now end my working day earlier, because I have learned to switch off from emails. I used to step away from my laptop and pat myself on the back thinking my work day was over, when in fact I would just continue my emails on my phone on the sofa a few feet away from my desk. I would respond to all my emails, no matter the time of day, no matter the situation and that reinforced to others that I would reply to anyone despite there being no urgency in the contact. Now that I have built relationships with work colleagues and am further into my career, I feel comfortable now getting back to emails a little later. I have realised that a slightly later reply is understood – I’m running a one woman show here after all. And I just cant reply to everything immediately. People get it; I just had to get it also.

5

LET’S BE HONEST

I know my downfalls. I identified them early on when I started working from home. I can work for 14 hours straight if I don’t plan my time in advance, I can get distracted by the nearest unnecessary task if I’m unprepared and I cannot force myself to be productive if my work environment is noisy and not set up for work. Those are my personal hurdles and I know myself and my space well enough now to realise, within minutes of sitting at my desk, if I’m going to be productive. Working from home isn’t for everyone. I have people say to me ‘How do you not just watch Friends re-runs all day or get distracted by Twitter every 5 minutes?’ and the answer is, I can to a certain degree, find that extra motivation needed. But it’s very difficult and I feel it comes down to my sheer workaholism. If you’re self employed and struggling perhaps a shared work space might be a great option to help separate your work and home life. Or what I find that I love – if you can afford it, get yourself a card for a local members only club or restaurant, think Soho House vibes, and take your laptop there everyday! I absolutely love doing this too, especially for my meeting!

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I’d love to know if you have any tips to share on working from home or if you think you have the discipline to do it yourself. I really love when we all come together to share tips and help each other be the best we can do, so feel free to share below!

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