I’ve been working remotely for 5 years — Here’s how I’ve mastered WFH

It all started when I was a bored student at university. My degree was super easy and I had a lot of free time. I did a bunch of stuff on the side to stay busy, and one of those was earning some money from freelance writing.

Photo by 白 晓东 on Unsplash

When the time came to graduate, one of my clients offered me a full-time remote job in marketing. Of course, I wasn’t going to be picky when jobs were scarce for a fresh graduate so I happily accepted.

My new boss was great and to this day we’re still friends, but I must admit the next few months were depressing. Being cooped up at home brought all kinds of dark thoughts to mind. I just wasn’t happy.

It took time, but eventually I got my life back on track. I’ve achieved much more than if I were working a regular office job — (a published research paper, travelled the world and founded a startup!).

Here’s how I did it.

1. Separate your workplace

I know it’s tempting to work from your bed. Don’t.

First off, it messes with your sleep. Second, it makes you lazy.

Designate a desk just for work. The further away from your bedroom, the better. I used to work from a desk in my room which worked well, but I found my productivity peaked when I moved my desk to an entirely different room.

I know not everybody has the luxury of a spare room at home, but if you do, convert that to a study/ home office and use that for work only. It really helps your mind switch into work mode the minute you step foot into that room. It also wards off family members from interrupting you when you’re in the flow.

2. Have a side project

I think the greatest thing about working remotely is that you have time flexibility. I use that to fill my day with other projects so I’m not constantly chained to my desk.

It can be anything under the sun that interests you. If it involves other people, even better. You don’t need to google ideas, it should be something you’ve always thought about doing, but couldn’t find time to do it. You know what I’m talking about.

For me, it was research & coding. On the side, I published a research paper, learnt to code and built fun apps. One of those apps actually turned into a startup!

3. Be social

Set up frequent coffee dates with friends. Join a book club. Take up guitar lessons. Go to that distant relative’s wedding you were invited to. Pay your grandmother a visit.

Don’t become a hermit.

(In the time of a pandemic, I know this suggestion sounds useless. But with the internet, you can still have virtual hangouts and stay in touch with a phone call. Don’t find excuses to not talk to people outside the people you live with.)

4. Don’t work on the weekends

I know weekends don’t feel too different from weekdays when you work from home. But you’ve got to make it so by not working.

You need the break.

Make it clear with your employer that you will not be available on the weekend. Spend that time with your family. Catch up on your reading list and Netflix. Cook something new. Build a bird house. Do whatever makes you happy and just relax.

5. Time-limit social media on your computer

Gain back control on your time, by limiting social media.

I use a Chrome extension called StayFocusd to block Twitter, Reddit and Facebook after 10 minutes of use per day. It’s really changed the way I spend time on these sites. After a week, you’ll find 10 minutes is more than enough to check up on things you’ve missed and tweet a random thought.

On my phone, I’ve disabled all social media notifications. But I still had a problem with Twitter & Facebook as I would absent-mindedly open and scroll through. So I ended up deleting the two on my phone.

I’m not telling you to delete you account on Facebook, just limit your time.

6. Get out of your pyjamas

I’m not going to elaborate. Just get dressed.

No need to wear a suit, but you get the point — Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

7. Travel

I’ve travelled to 4 countries and multiple cities during the past 5 years and stayed for weeks at a place. All while working remotely. Isn’t that the best part about working from home? You get to chose your home.

(Note: again to anybody reading during the pandemic, I realize this can’t apply in the current climate, but it needs to be said for when you’re reading it after the crisis is over. )

8. Watch a movie you’ve seen before

Now I don’t know if this will work for everyone, but it works for me so I’m putting it out there. When work is boring, I like to open Netflix in a side window or my iPad. It helps the time pass by quickly and lets me focus on my task without looking for an excuse to get up.

I recommend movies or TV shows that you’ve seen before since they don’t require you to actually watch. It’s more like listening and just a glance at the screen when things are interesting.

Hope these tips help you. Happy working from home & stay safe!



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