In 2018, I was lucky enough to secure a job that would allow me to work from a remote location. What that means is that I’ve been working from home (WFH) long before it became a necessity. Because of the Movement Control Order (MCO), Malaysians have been stuck at home for more than a month, many of them having to work from home for the very first time.
Even though the MCO may end soon in May (there are signs of it happening), some companies may stick to a work from home arrangement for the foreseeable future. If that’s the case, some of us should be prepared to work from home for an extended period of time. I know it’s not been easy. I had trouble adapting too when I first started.
But, having worked from home for quite some time, I do have a few proven tips to help make it easier for newbies. So here are ten tips to help you make the most out of your WFH situation, even if it is only for the next two weeks.
1. Pick a designated work space
Rule number 1 of choosing your work space: don’t choose the bedroom! While it may be tempting to wake up five minutes before work and immediately clock in, our minds are wired to associate our bedroom with rest. That’s why working in your bedroom is likely not a good idea and will usually lead to plenty of time-wasting.
Instead, I suggest setting up a workspace in your living room or some brightly-lit area in the house. Natural light works best but if you don’t have large windows where sunlight can pour in from, consider getting a simple table lamp. Not only is working in poor lighting bad for your eyes, you will also tend to get tired more easily since our minds connect dim lighting to sleeping.
2. Make sure to keep your workstation clean and organised!
I have to confess: I’m a bit of a slob when it comes to my workspace. I tend to make notes on random pieces of paper and then just leave them all over my desk. You can imagine how it can sometimes get really annoying when I need to look for something in particular but can’t find it because it’s buried under a pile of trash.
Don’t be like me. If you want to be productive while you work from home, make sure to keep your desk clean and organised. Not only will you be able to reach for something quickly when you need it, having a clean workspace also dramatically improves your mood!
3. Get an organiser and set goals
WFH is not just about organising your workspace. You need to declutter your mind as well! Having worked from home for two years, one of the easiest traps to fall into is not organising or planning your day as you normally would in the office. This can easily derail your work schedule and impact your performance.
To solve this, you can download apps like Forest or ToDoist to help you keep track of your goals for the day. It may also be a good idea to turn on some soft music if that’s something that can help you concentrate on a given task.
4. Don’t place snacks near your workspace!
As you work from home, you will inevitably feel peckish at some point during the day. While it’s 100% okay to have a snack or a cup of coffee every now and then, excessive snacking can lead to plenty of health-related issues down the road.
This is especially true since not everyone can exercise from home and burn off the extra calories. However, do remember to keep yourself hydrated! That means water, not beer.
5. Take a break when it’s time to do so
In the office, even if you don’t look at the clock every five minutes, you’ll know when it’s time to take a break. That’s because your colleagues around you will most likely leave their seat during lunch hour or when it’s time to go home. When you’re working from home alone, it’s easy to lose track of time and be overly-engrossed in your work.
While being a dedicated employee is commendable, it’s also important to not overwork. When it’s time for a break, take a break. Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself that it’s lunch time. Or, schedule your laptop to “sleep” at a specific time so that you remember to take it easy once in a while.
6. Prepare your meal beforehand or order takeout
One good thing about working from home is that it allows you to cook your own meals. Not only are home-cooked meals healthier but they are also usually more cost-effective. However, cooking your own meals can sometimes take a lot of time, especially if you’re still new to this.
You’ve got two ways to overcome this problem. Either prepare your ingredients earlier (maybe the night before or in the morning) or simply order food delivery for days when you’re really in a rush. Apps like FoodPanda and GrabFood cover most cities and urban areas in Malaysia, so it shouldn’t be a problem at all. Just make sure to order a little earlier in case there’s a long wait time!
7. Invest in a good chair
Face it: if you’re working from home, chances are you’ll be sitting down in front of your laptop most of the time. That’s why you should invest in a good chair. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gaming or office chair (although they ARE comfy) as long as it has decent back support.
Sitting for a long time with incorrect posture can lead to several annoying complications like migraines, tight necks, and even backaches. Do your body favour and get a comfy chair if you don’t have one already!
8. Get dressed
I know what you’re thinking: what’s the fun in WFH if I have to dress for work? Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be working in your boxer shorts. However, the very routine of dressing up and getting ready for work has actually shown to have a positive effect on your productivity.
Mentally, certain clothes have a profound effect on our mindset and help set the tone for the rest of the day. That’s why we often dress our best for a big presentation even when we’re not asked to. It’s not just about looking presentable and professional, it also makes us feel more confident. So while working in your pyjamas is convenient and fun, try not to make it a habit!
9. Set boundaries with your family
This might be a difficult thing to do, especially if you have children. While working from home definitely gives you more freedom in many aspects, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re supposed to be “working”. Unfortunately, some of your family members might not understand that.
It’s your responsibility to make yourself clear that you’ll be working from home and hence need to minimise any distractions. I mean, you wouldn’t like it if your family member starts playing Youtube videos on ma volume while you’re having an important conference call with a client, would you?
Also Read: How COVID-19 Has Changed Our Life Forever
10. Stay connected with your colleagues
For me, one of the greatest challenges of WFH is the feeling of disconnect between yourself and your colleagues. You won’t necessarily feel lonely, but let’s be honest, there are certain topics that you can only talk about with your colleagues.
So, as much as it is annoying to sit through a laggy Zoom conference, it is a necessity. Just be careful about who you’re gossiping about. You never know, that person might just be lurking in the chat room!
And there you have it! Ten proven tips to maximise your WFH experience! Granted, you may not need to work from home for that much longer, but for those who want to make the next two weeks count, this is for you!