Work-from-home tips

Because of COVID-19, companies have had no choice but to implement work-from-home arrangements for the sake of social distancing.

For some, working from home sounds like a dream come true – you don’t have to get up hours earlier because of awful city traffic, you can avoid the hassle of commuting after that, and you can wear your pambahay and no one will ever know.

However, working from home also has its own challenges that might baffle those who are new to it. Here are some work-from-home tips & tricks to help you out in your transition from your office cubicle to your home’s couch.

1. Avoid waking up just before you start work

a lady eating toast
Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

Even when working from home, you still have to have a few minutes to yourself before getting down to business. Just like the time you take to shower, eat breakfast, and just breathe before braving the long commute to the office, remote work also requires the same things.

As millionaire freelancer John Pagulayan said, “Build a routine.” Following a schedule, from breakfast to checking out of work, is key to getting yourself into a productive headspace.

2. Find your perfect spot to work from home

a lady working from home in a nice room
Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

Instead of having your designated cubicle or space in the office, you now get to choose your new workspace at home. Try out the couch, the dining table, or even the floor of your living room – there’s no telling where you’ll be most productive, but when you know, you know.

When you find that spot, stick to it so that your mind registers it as your official workspace, and not just another area in your house where you can lounge around.

3. Avoid working on your bed

a lady trying out a bed
Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

Though you can work pretty much anywhere, try to avoid working on your bed. We’ve all had moments back in school where we’d stay in our comfy beds with the promise to finish that essay, only to fall into a deep sleep.

It’s hard to escape that tendency even after you’ve entered the workforce. If you’re a brave soldier, you can try it, but make sure to set up a hundred alarms in case you do fall asleep.

4. Dress up to get in the zone

woman putting on lipstick with a mirror
Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

While getting to work in your pajamas is a plus, it can blur the lines between a day at work and a regular day lazing about. If you’re having trouble with this, try throwing on a blazer, applying your favorite lipstick, or even wearing a wrist watch – these can be reminders that you’re supposed to be working.

This also comes in handy when your boss surprises you with a call – imagine the horror of being in your raggedy high school t-shirt with your hair a mess! At least, this way, you’re ready at any given moment.

5. Turn off all work-from-home distractions

a guy on his phone distracting a guy on his laptop
Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

Social media, TVs, extra tabs on your laptop – they’re all way too accessible and distracting. That’s why you need to distance yourself from them to focus on work.

Put those phones away, turn those TVs off, and as for extra tabs on the laptop… that’s sheer self-discipline, but having two different windows helps – one for work and one for play, to make it easier to separate the two.

6. Keep snacking to a minimum

a lady working from home and snacking
Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

All that free food at home sure is tempting, and we love snacking under the guise of consuming “brain food”. While brain food is a legit thing, having a box of cereal, several bags of chips, and cups of soda to yourself is hardly healthy.

Watch your snacks because you might be overeating without knowing it. Plan out your meals and list down what you eat so you can keep track of your dietary habits and know when to stop. You can surround yourself with healthier options like fruits, too, to avoid feeling so guilty. Health is wealth, after all.

7. Communicate with your peers who’re also working from home

a woman looking at her phone
Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

It can get real lonely working from home, away from your workmates, but that’s when chat rooms and video calls come in handy. When the feeling of isolation is at its peak, drop your office mates and friends a message or two, or even go on a short 10-minute video call. Rather than being a distraction, it can actually boost your productivity and remind yourself that you’re not alone in this.

Make sure to observe a strict schedule though. Without self-control, a 10-minute video call or chat can easily stretch out to hours, and next thing you know, you’re behind on work.

8.Try out proven productivity techniques

a lady working from home
Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to be productive, try out different productivity-boosting techniques. These include: 

The Pomodoro Technique, which is immersing yourself in a task completely for 25 minutes straight – called a Pomodoro – then taking short breaks every time the timer goes off. You can take longer breaks the more Pomodoros you complete successfully.

The Flowtime Technique, for when timers distract you more than help. This technique focuses on getting into a work-oriented headspace. Instead of setting a timer, list down tasks and the time you started working on them. Take note of how long you can work on a task before you get tired or lose focus. You can also reward yourself with breaks in between.

The Eat That Frog Perspective is built around the belief that if you had to eat a live frog every day, you should do it first thing in the morning so you can focus on other things afterwards. Similarly, you should tackle the hardest tasks or the tasks you dread doing first, so that you can get them over with.

9. Work processes are not one-size-fits-all

two coworkers looking at a monitor
Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

The reason why there are so many productivity techniques and work-from-home tips out there is because there’s no one method that will work for everyone. David Guison likes bringing his work outside of the house and CJ Cajoles has to adjust her routine to accommodate being a mom – we’re all different people with different work processes, factors that affect our work, and ways of thinking.

The reason working from home is so difficult is that the learning curve of figuring out what’s best for you is steep. It will be frustrating for a while, but once you do find something that works for you, you’ll discover just how productive you can be.

10. Set time limits when you work from home

a smart watch
Image credit: @thesmartlocalsg

As someone who works from home, it’s easy to lose track of time. Days start to mesh together – what more hours that are only separated by one-hour lunch breaks.

Knowing when to stop working is just as important as being on time when starting work. There’s the tendency to work beyond working hours because there’s no boss around or physical cues to stop you.

It’s all a matter of shutting down your laptop or closing those browser tabs. Don’t forget your life outside of work – play with your kids, watch that TV series you’ve always meant to watch, and read that book you’ve been putting off for months. You’ll need to recharge in order to have energy to start work anew the next day.

Work-from-home tips for first-time remote workers

As fun and petiks working from home might sound, it poses its own challenges. But hopefully these proven work-from-home tips from those who have done remote work for months to years will help you out.

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Cover image adapted from: @thesmartlocalsg, @thesmartlocalsg, @thesmartlocalsg, and @thesmartlocalsg

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