First of all, how are you all coping during these weird days of self-isolation against COVID-19? If you are working from home now, are you starting to get used to it as the new ‘norm’? It’s all a bit weird, isn’t it? There’s so much information out there about what to do and what not to do. But as a freelance worker I’m used to working from home, so it’s not much different from ‘normal’ for me.
At the beginning of isolation I felt like everyone else was getting a little taste of what my daily life is. But many of you are being forced to work from home in less-than-ideal set-ups, and still need to work the regular 9 to 5 (or similar) because you are an employee, and that is when you are required to work. So I understand if you’re not able to relate to some of what I’m about to share, but it may still help a little bit, especially if you are not used to working from home.
When I first started working for myself, I researched on how to be productive and stay motivated, I didn’t want to fall into any bad habits. But everything I read sounded too hard, too rigid, and just not me. So I ignored it all and found my own way.
I asked myself: ‘What time of the day do I do my best work?’ And then I set a regular work schedule around that time.
Simple, but very effective, especially if you have the flexibility to set your own schedule.
I am not a morning person. I find myself very motivated from around 10am, and then again late at night, creativity can hit again.
This is a typical day for me:
30 minutes’ work on social media before I get out of bed. I could schedule my posts but I like laying in bed for a while anyway. I shower and dress as soon as I get up. Do I get dressed up for working at home? No, don’t be ridiculous. I used to wear a corporate uniform to work every day, so I welcome the freedom of wearing whatever I want to.
My mind still has that habit of not being able to think creatively until I’ve hung the washing out, or completed some sort of domestic duty, so I get that out of the way first. I then sit on the couch with a cup of tea and my laptop. I like to complete a bit of administration work during this time, then I start my official work day at 10am.
I stop for a late cooked brekky, sometimes that might not be until 1pm if I’ve lost track of time (this happens more often than not!), and allow myself some down time. My partner, Pete, comes home from his full time job early afternoons and I like to sit with him for a chat, before he starts printing and framing. Sometimes I will work with him on this, but if I’m not needed then I’m back to my own work. I’m lucky Pete loves cooking, and so does my daughter (who is currently in iso with us), and they’re SO good at it too! I usually don’t stop working until tea is ready, and then it’s couch time. Bit of TV or Netflix follows. FYI: It’s currently 8pm and I’m sitting here on the couch with them while writing this blog, enjoying a glass of red, while they’re both watching Master Chef.
I do some of my best work late at night. The laptop always stays by my side on the couch so I can pick it up when inspiration hits. Or I might do a bit of painting in my studio when I know there won’t be any interruptions. Before I go to bed, which could be as late as 1am, I work out what I need to do the next day. I add it to my ‘to do’ list (just in my phone at this stage, no special productivity software for me just yet!). Then I work out what order it needs to be done in, with priority jobs at the top of the list. I map out my day so trips in my van are reduced to a minimum. I am not obsessed with my ‘to do’ list, but I make sure I check it throughout the day so I don’t miss anything. If I don’t get through the list, that’s OK too.
As you can see, I break a lot of ‘rules’. I don’t use our office to do my work, I use the couch. I don’t get up early, I don’t go to bed early. I don’t wear office work attire to do my graphic design work. I eat when I feel like it, or have the time to. I don’t set a day aside to clean the house. I don’t use any software to help me. I don’t allocate days off, I just take time out when I feel like it.
However, I am incredibly self motivated. I love my job. There’s always room for improvement, things I could do better, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I just concentrate on these three things:
- Stay focused – I have my goals. I praise myself on what I’ve achieved at the end of the day.
- Stay healthy – I eat healthy foods and go for walks outside.
- Stay social – I like to keep in touch with my friends.
I kept seeing on social media how you should not expect to be as productive during these times, and how it’s OK to spend a day doing absolutely nothing. So I started to fall in to this mindset, and slacked off a little. But then I started to fall behind with my jobs and I didn’t feel comfortable with that.
Just get through this the best way you can.