I’ve been working from home for about 12 years now. I am self-employed rather than remote working, so that means I’m my own boss, which in some ways its easier. I don’t have someone checking up on me every five minutes, and I don’t feel guilty for taking an afternoon nap if i’m tired or a potter around the garden if its sunny. But, in other ways it’s much harder. You have to be your own boss, self-motivate, self-start. I’m all heads of departments in one, head of design, head of sales, head of finance, head of marketing, and chief tea-maker.

The reason I am telling you all this is because of this corona virus situation and we’re seeing a huge amount of people working remotely. And this is probably one of a thousand similar blogs out there addressing this issue. But I am going to write it anyway and hopefully some of you will find it useful. In no particular order, here are a few tips to get the most of working from home…

1. Wake-up when you want to

Controversial, and doesn’t necessarily work if you are remote working – your boss might have a fit. For everyone else, I think there is pressure to get up at a certain time and work certain hours, but really, you know your own body, and you know when you are most productive. If its 5am then great, get it all done first thing. If you are more creative and productive in the evening then that is perfectly acceptable too. You are free to manage your own time.

2. Get the most horrible or boring tasks done first

If you don’t get the most difficult tasks out of the way first, they will probably get put off until tomorrow. My advice is to get them done first and then you will feel a great sense of achievement for having done it. The rest of the day will be way more productive too.

3. Have a to-do list

Like I said before, make sure the most tasking job is tackled first. Then I get all the little loose ends done – it makes me feel like i’ve achieved loads. Then finally, after some much needed lunch or sustenance, have at the fun stuff, the tasks that really make your job worthwhile, that way, you will end the day on a happy note.

4. Take breaks away from your desk

Some people like to set timers and take these breaks at 25 or 55 minute intervals. I try to take them between tasks and when I’m hungry. These are the ideal times to fill the washing machine, get some exercise or water the plants. A change is as good as a rest and you will feel productive even when you’re on your break.

5. Stay away from social media and don’t check your emails every 5 minutes

Before you know it 2 hours has gone by and you’ll have nothing to show for it. Emails can wait, you don’t need to reply to people straight away. Every couple of hours is perfectly acceptable.

6. Keep on top of your admin

It’s easy to let this build up. Admin and invoicing aren’t billable hours so you put them off. This can cause a heap of unnecessary stress. Set a time each day or each week to get this done. Then make sure you do it.

7. Keep weekends as me-time and family-time

I have to confess I do find myself working some weekends. But we shouldn’t be doing this, unless your job specifically requires you to and then in which case take time off during the week to counter-balance this. Just make sure you don’t find yourself working 7 days a week , or you will burn out.

8. Keep hydrated

I keep a pint glass topped up with water all day. It helps me stay alert.

9. Learn, learn, learn

The danger of not having colleagues and a bit of rivalry you can become complacent and out of touch with trends, software and up-to-date technology. Invest in yourself and your office to ensure you stay on top.

10. Wellbeing

Doing these simple things will help you feel positive and stay productive. And they might sound obvious but actually its easy to slip in to a pyjama-wearing-unclean-mess tied to your laptop all day and its not healthy. So here they are:

  • Wash and dress everyday
  • Make your bed
  • Eat away from your desk and take time to digest (and be mindful of what you’re eating)
  • Get some fresh air – every day. You can go for a walk or if you need a purpose, go to the shops.
  • Socialise / Speak to someone, preferably face-to-face, but on the phone is fine.
  • Don’t work too late – remember we are working to live not live to work.
  • Be kind