My name is Bissy Riva and I work for American Rhino as Director of Design and I am based in Nairobi, Kenya. I have worked from home and remotely for over a year now and for those of you leaving an office to work from home, I thought I would share some tips to help with the WFH adjustment!
#1 Wake up the same time for your workday that you normally would. Now that commute time is not factored in, you can take time to stretch, clean your space, or make breakfast and actually have time to sit and eat it. Use your commute time to do all the things you normally wouldn’t have time to before running out the door. HOWEVER, be sure to get to your workspace the same time you would your office desk. Keeping on your daily routine is helpful for focus levels but since the days will continue to change, getting yourself to at least begin on an agenda will help energize you for the rest of the day.
#2 Keep your shoes on throughout the day or at least the morning hours. This helps start off the workday on a formal note, even if those shoes are flip flops or sneakers. Personally, I like to get dressed up for the day even if I don’t see a soul. Picking out my outfit is a fun part of my morning but that isn’t for everyone. So, shoes! Get those on to at least get your feet on the ground and out of bed.
#3 Change your clothes. As tempting as those PJ’s are, change your clothes. Wear whatever you like, as long as you didn’t sleep in them the night before.
#4 Set up a workspace for yourself. I am lucky now to have a room to myself where I set up a studio. However, I have also had WFH station where I placed a sewing machine on a collapsible TV dinner table at the end of a bed each day! Even if you don’t have much space, be sure to occupy an area of your room, apartment, house, that is distinctly yours for productivity!
#5 From this, arrange a desk with all the materials you need to get started. This desk doesn’t have to be permanent. If it is your family’s kitchen table, be sure to set it up and take it apart each day. This arrangement may be even more helpful as it gives you a start and finish time! When my day is done, I close the windows and door to my studio and don’t open until the next morning to turn off.
#6 If you’re working in the same space as a spouse or roommate, don’t. If you’re in the same room, turn yourselves in opposite directions. You have different jobs, so don’t try to hangout during your workday because normally you wouldn't. But hey, you could meet for lunch in the kitchen? Take breaks at the same time, or get together for an after-work drink? Trust me, this will save relationships.
#7 If you can, OPEN ALL THE WINDOWS! Get fresh air rather than a fan or AC. Even if it’s a bit cold, a breeze is a nice reminder that the outdoors are still out there.
#8 Write down a list of all the things you need to do that day. I mean THAT DAY. Not for the long term, but the items critical for you to accomplish before you turn off. I find handwriting helps me remember notes best but if you use an app, great. Have this list next to you and check off the things you need to do as completed. Many people already do this but now you don't abide by a 9-5 clock in and out situation, you wanna check those items off the list to know when to call it a day.
#9 Listen to your music! If doing visual work, podcasts! Anyways, put on your headphones. Just because you are home doesn’t mean you’re not at the office when you’re doing work. If you sit at a desk all day and listen to your favorite podcast series or repeat a Spotify’s Made-For-You radio, do the same at your home workspace. What helps you focus, helps you focus, so don’t forget about them just because you’re in a living room. If you’re in the midst of binge-listening to some Moth Story Slams, keep it going people!
#10 If you’re taking calls, pace. But pace near an open notebook.
#11 When you’re done and if you can turn off, do something for yourself. This means one thing in the afternoon or evening that separates the workday from the personal day within the same space. My turn off activities are either cooking, walking my enormous dog or calling a member of my family. If it’s hard to turn off, keep going on things you want to work on but do it because you want to, not because you feel like you have to! Being at home all day does not mean working longer and more than necessary. Warning if you’re rather neurotic like myself: this is easier said than done.
#12 Lastly, and this is a tip for those who struggle with attention, again placing myself in this category. Give yourself Three Easy Wins. For example, say you’ve been at your desk for a few hours, something outside catches your eye, your friend sends you a hilarious text, or you just remember that Instagram is a thing. Anyways, you lose your train of thought and have now killed twenty minutes. You’re refreshing tabs, trying to get your mind back to where you were. Now try this to stay motivated, give yourself Three Easy Wins. Three so little, so simple tasks to complete and get your confidence going. For instance, 1: Respond to that unopened email you keep unopening, 2: Print those papers you wanted to print, 3: Remind-text your co-worker that thing you meant to remind them. There, three easy tasks that you just completed successfully. Now get back to the big guy, the task at hand, and finish what you need to finish!
P.S. This also helps with cabin fever!
The key to a long term WFH routine is finding a balance. A balance between comfort and productivity, between working and living in one space. Anyways, these steps are here to help.
Now finish your work and call your family. You got this!