For almost a year, I have been self-employed as a blogger–you may have noticed this. But you may not know that I rented an office in Zurich for the first six months simply because I was afraid to work from home. Home office phobia, I’d say. I was worried that I was not productive enough, slept too long, and didn’t have the right equipment. And that’s just a small excerpt from the many thoughts I had right before I became self-employed, which motivated me to take office. To make a long story short: I was there only about six times in half a year.
Instead, the home office quickly turned out to be ideal for me, even though I first had to lay down a few rules. Maybe even some of them to outwit myself–by the way, I can do that quite well, especially when it comes to food, e.g. when I only cut off half a piece of cake, because that’s enough. But then, an hour later, I still get the other half (and maybe an additional half after all). Who knows it? Okay, now I went off topic–that is also such a problem. But today, it’s not about problems; it’s about solutions. So I’d like to share five tips to work more focused and productive when working from home.
Creating a routine.
This means that I always get up at about the same time during the week (about 6.45 am) and start working at about the same time. Generally, it helps to plan more or less fixed working hours (e.g. 8 to 5). But it also means that I don’t just sit at the computer in a pyjama but rather get dressed like when I go to the office. Of course, I also occasionally treat myself to a pyjama day, but not too often, as it just makes it harder for me to get into work mode.
On this point, perhaps some people disagree with me, which contradicts the routine mentioned above. But I like to keep changing my workplace. Of course, not every hour or every day, but rather on a project-by-project basis. Sometimes I work in the living room, but most often, I tend to work in the kitchen, and sometimes I just have to go out and sit in a cafe with my laptop for a few hours to be surrounded by some people and their voices. Usually, I always look for places that don’t distract me too much and usually orient my workplace in such a way that there is no visual distraction (e.g. often, I face against a wall instead of into the room).
Good lighting positively affects our concentration, reduces error rates and ultimately increases productivity. Today, it is generally known that so-called blue light, e.g. from smartphones, keeps us awake and therefore messes up our sleep cycle, and I’m sure we have all noticed that flickering light, on the other hand, quickly makes our eyes tired. So light has a noticeable effect on our bodies and because we spend 90% of our time indoors, investing in the right light source is truly essential. Especially for me, because I spend most of my time in the same room with the same light. That’s why I chose to get the smart Dyson Lightcycle. It can adapt to daylight and thus supports the inner body clock. The special thing about the Lightcycle is that it adjusts the light temperature and brightness throughout the day. It regulates the blue part of the light according to the daylight on site and thus offers a constant light quality at any time of day. In addition, the intelligent lamp can be controlled via an app and has several pre-programmed modes to support specific activities. For example, the study mode, for desk work (I use it most), the relax mode, with warmer and darker light that provides relaxation but is still bright enough to read, or the wake-up mode, for a natural wake-up environment where the Dyson light switches on at a defined time and then becomes continuously brighter. The daylight of the Dyson Lightcycle is also great for my work as a graphic designer, when I work and evaluate photos in the evening/night, for example. The right lighting is essential to ensure that the colours are also correct in daylight. Because depending on the temperature of the ambient light, colours appear completely different. And apropos changing workplaces: This is another advantage of the Dyson Lightcycle, it is a floor lamp, so I can easily take it with me from room to room!
Anyone who works in a company automatically has social contact with employees and customers during the day. However, as a home office freelancer, I often happen to be alone all day. This makes it all the easier to get distracted from social media and WhatsApp, and that’s why you should either turn your smartphone over so you don’t see its screen all the time or, if it’s not even needed for work, store it in another room or at least not within easy reach. As mentioned above, I also like to work in a café from time to time, instead of at home, because I simply need a busier environment for certain tasks, e.g. when I have to be creative.
To-do lists and deadlines.
I got used to doing the most urgent administrative work first. I usually work through my e-mails by noon and use the afternoon for creative work. Sure, sometimes it’s the other way around, but I divide up certain times for certain work. Every evening I also write a to-do list for the next day. If it is particularly large, I set priorities. For long-term projects that are not that urgent, I always set a deadline because if other unplanned projects are coming in, it will be tight in the end. That’s why my motto is: Rather finish the work you can do instead of procrastinating at an undefined time.