For the past three months I have been working from home, doing both my ‘day job’ and blogging in the same environment which has proved to be both challenging and overwhelming in equal measure. There have been days where I have struggled to find a balance between work and play, often working late into the night with undefined breaks or working hours. While this has partly been perpetuated by ‘work’ who expect a lot from us, this has also been down to personal issues, such as being evacuated from my house, crippling anxiety and depression, and health issues, including being in hospital. While I was still working when all of these personal issues were going on, at the same time I found this made me compensate for any time missed by working longer, more intense work shifts, while managing my business at the same time which proved to be exhausting. It took me a while to get used to working from home, as I had worked in the publishing industry in an office in London since September, so the sudden stand still as lockdown took place was jarring, but at the same time I felt relieved. I had felt that blogging had taken a step back since 2019; I had fallen out of love with writing, my personal life was in disarray and it was a challenging time for my physical and mental health. Without mincing my words, last year was difficult; from family members dying, right through to being in a house fire, to being robbed twice, it was little wonder that I lacked the energy to focus on what I loved, when my world was crumbling around me.
This year wasn’t any easier, and while it’s not something that I am ready to talk about now, there are some positives to be found. Working from home proved to be challenging in the beginning as I was so exhausted from my main job, that I had no energy to blog as regularly as I once did, but gradually I found my groove. I re-found my passion in writing once more, I was able to look after my physical and mental health more effectively and I was able to separate working hours between my blog and normal job. For example I would work 9-6, do some blogging work on my lunch break and after work, and clock in more hours for blogging at the weekend when I had more time for my own personal work. In some ways, although I had worked full time as a blogger for two years before I became an editor, I found it difficult to work from home, when the hours would all blur into one, and the day was a never ending cycle of work-work-work. Without giving too much away, my day job was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting, and this took a toll on my productivity. It makes sense therefore that I had no motivation when it came to working from home doing what I actually loved.
But i’m babbling on, despite my personal circumstances, I re-found my love, passion and excitement once more, created high quality engaging visual content, tripled my traffic and most of all found tips that would help me create the best working from home experience that I could possibly wish for. While I still have a long way to go, my productivity has increased tenfold, and I have found that I am able to prioritize my time more effectively, while getting more work done. From sticking to a clear cut routine to give you motivation to creating an organised workplace that has positive energy here are 8 ways that you can make working from home as fun and as productive as you can possibly make it.
Work For Someone That Makes You Feel Good In Your Job
As someone who has worked in many toxic working environments, finding something to feel positive about in your ‘working life’ can be difficult, believe me I know. When you are constantly being criticized, being put down or being made to feel bad about yourself, this can dramatically impact your mental health and emotional state of wellbeing. It’s all too easy to feel downtrodden and down in the dumps, fixating on the ‘negative things’ that have happened to you, and being unable to see the positives, but it’s important to try and focus on what makes you happy, while still being ‘realistic’. For example let’s say that you are working in a toxic workplace and feel like you are being undervalued and your boss has made constant threats to fire you. While you would love to leave, you don’t have financial stability and want your next job to be something that you are passionate about, in a positive working environment. My advice would be that you absolutely need to get out of there, because noone should be working in a job where they are made to feel like they are not enough.
However I wouldn’t hand in your notice straight away until you have revamped your CV, sent job applications to companies that you feel align with who you want to be, and have received job offers that you are passionate and excited about. Let’s take the following scenario as an example; although you are working from home for your boss, you are still surrounded by toxic energy. You are never praised for any work that you do, even though you know it is high quality work, you are constantly criticized and put down, and above all, you have found that they are doing some things that are not above board. These are all viable reasons to want to leave this toxic workplace, and enjoy working from home for a boss that appreciates you and all your skills that you have to offer. They make threats to fire you and you realize that you deserve better. They don’t have valid reasons to fire you and you plead your case. You need stability, and this job offers you that, but it’s not a long term solution. You draw up a plan; you rejig your CV, make a list of job roles that match what you have to offer, and send out job applications, while you are still working in this toxic job. Although you get some rejection emails, you also receive some interview invitations which you are excited about. Finally you get the job offer that you have been looking for and with that stability in place you are able to quit that toxic job and start afresh.
After all, working in an environment where you feel valued and made to feel like you are good at what you do, helps you gain productivity, self-confidence and motivation. You have left a toxic job behind, have been proactive about finding a workplace that is positive and have been able to boost your self-esteem in the process. I promise you, whether you are working from home or are working in the office, no boss or colleague should make you feel like you are not worthy because this is simply not on.
Create An Organised Workspace That Has Positive Energy
I mentioned that being in an environment that has positive energy is so important and this goes beyond the people that you work with. From how organised your desk is, to how you manage your time, you can design a better working environment by creating an organised workspace that radiates positive energy. For example, when I first started working from home, I would be using my ‘bed’ as a desk because I didn’t have a designated working space and my room was quite honestly a tip. This would not only give me backache, but gave me no separation between my ‘day job’ and ‘blogging’ because the work would all merge into one. I was also working in an unorganized environment, was lacking in stationary and needed a desk to complete my work at, so that I could emulate the environment that I had. On top of that, I needed a new laptop, and the constant use of my laptop for work and ‘personal work’ meant that my laptop had a serious case of burn out so I needed to put practical steps into motion to create a workspace that wouldn’t stress me out to the nines.
Which is where the lovelies at Viking stepped in and saved the day, with their desktop essentials that have helped me prioritize my time, become more organized and above all increased my productivity. From colourful hole punchers that have helped me staple documents, written work and drafts together, to letter trays to store filed documents, notebooks and work journals, stationary has made me a lot more organized and proficient with the hours that I use in the day. For example, let’s say that I have several copies of journals from work that are no longer in use but I need to reference them in the future. Something like a letter tray, ring binder or folder will allow me to store these documents away, so that they are out of the way but at the same time if a client has a question about one of the journals or I need to obtain information about a previous journal, I can do this easily. Plus there is nothing that boosts your productivity and your sense of fun more than colourful eye-grabbing stationary that gets the job done. For colour lovers like myself, bright shades of purple, teal orange, red and blue are prevalent throughout their ‘Foray’ range, which allow you to easily create a home filing system without having to compromise on space. For example, I rent a room in East London, so I need to be able to use my room for both work and play, whether that be writing, having meetings, having calls with friends or playing games. This means that I have to take into account the amount of space that I have available, which is made possible with Viking’s desktop essentials that utilize the space that you have and turning it into a mini office.
Now that I have a small desk, I am able to choose to use this whenever I want, alternating between different working environments, with my fabulous stationary to boot. I have also ordered a new computer and am currently borrowing someone else’s laptop in the meantime, while having ‘home office essentials’ such as an extra mini chest of draws for pens, post it notes and hole punchers, a fan to keep the room cool and a clipboard, with notebooks to take notes on tasks that I do each day, as well as creating a to-do list. My current favourite goodies include my Foray turquoise and red abstract notebook, my Office Depot pastel sticky notes and my Foray hole puncher in pink and orange, which do wonders for enhancing my productivity, while working at home.
Stick To A Routine To Give You Motivation
Just like you would in an office, keeping clearly defined working hours with distinct breaks will allow you to remain productive while working hard. After all, if you are going to make working from home a reality, you need to follow the same working pattern as you would in the office. For example let’s say your job is from 9-5, with an hour break at 12 to recharge your batteries, eat and rest. Like you would do in the office, set tasks for you to do each day that will allow you to reach your goals and stay motivated in the process. For example let’s give you two scenarios which show how a routine enhances your productivity when working from home. In my instance I have two main jobs: my role as an editor in the publishing industry and a blogger in my personal time. In my editor role, my hours are meant to be 9-5, but I often have to do work out of hours. While in the beginning I found it difficult to work at my full potential during the whole time, I found that splitting my work (that could be done at any time of the day) meant that I got more done and at a faster pace.
The day would start with the daily newsletter which would have to go out in the morning, and after this I would be able to split my time and work out the tasks that I can do in the ‘peak productivity period’ and what tasks would be best to do when I am feeling more tired and am lagging in motivation. Of course anything that my boss needed to do would be of ‘prime importance’ so depending on what time he would ask me to do something, I would do it pretty much straight away (as we work to intense deadlines) and get it out of the way, before breaking this activity up with answering emails which takes less concentration and motivation to do. I would also use my peak productivity periods to undertake large projects for our journals such as designing the contents page and pagination, editing and proofing articles and writing for work. The remaining hour of the day would be answering emails again, pitching potential clients for editorials and press releases or drafting the newsletters for the next day, as well as writing up a to-do list for the next day and everything that I needed to achieve. Key things that I would need to do in my job would include creating newsletters, proofing and editing articles, scheduling content, pitching clients for interviews, editorials and news, as well as interviewing brands and companies, writing forewords, news and pitches, and creating social media content to promote the journal articles.
Work would end, I would cook dinner and go for a walk or run, and then blogging work would commence. For blogging, I would begin with checking my website states, looking at top-performing posts, trending articles, as well as visitors, traffic, identifying a common theme with the top 5 posts, and schedule content to be promoted, using blogging groups, social media and newsletters. This would be done before work, and I would also engage with other bloggers content, come up with new article ideas, and possibly do a bit of writing depending on how much time I would have before work. After work I would go over the stats again, continue writing blog posts and edit photos. I would also schedule in future content, brainstorm ideas using a keyword research planner and connect with other bloggers. I would do this for 2- 3 hours and then use the rest of the time to relax, creating a routine that is focused, makes me more productive and also allows me to have a semi-balance between work and play, as I have the remainder of the evening to relax and distance myself from work. This is the key, because you need a distinction between your home and working life.
Fight The Urge To Multitask And Focus On One Thing At A Time
If there is anything that I am guilty of, it is doing multiple tasks at the same time, as I scrabble to tick off everything on my to-do list. As someone who not only has two jobs but also has multiple side projects including freelance writing, and running a blogging groups and events company in the past, fighting the urge to multi-task is a real struggle. For example in my day job, I could be writing up a newsletter at the same time as answering emails, scheduling social media campaigns, having calls with my boss and clients, anscwering messages, drafting articles and proofing editorials, which means that the original task aka the newsletter takes longer to do, because I am trying to do too much work at the same time. When I split my day into productivity periods, and align work at different times of the day (see above), I am able to complete tasks faster because I am concentrating on completing one task at a time. And it’s the same for blogging too; I could be writing an article at the same time as checking stats, engaging with other blogger’s content, editing photos and content, as well as doing Keyword and SEO research, reading articles and answering emails/messages. If I split my time into productivity periods, like above this helps me streamline my working process.
After all a career that lets you work from home can be invasive in your personal life, so in order to maximize your productivity and increase your work performance, you need to have a healthy work schedule which means focusing on task at a time. Easier said than done I know, but with time you will find that working from home gets easier with time, especially if you fight the urge to multitask.
Get Creative And Think Of Ways To Make Working From Home Fun
During lockdown we are spending more time at home, which naturally means we are doing everything from work to play without getting out much. This can lead to ‘cabin fever’ which makes finding motivation when we are ‘bored’ and ‘tired’ very difficult, even if you love what you do, which can be frustrating. Which is why it is important to think outside the box, and come up with ways to make working from home less of a drag, to boost your work ethic, ability to create high quality work, take well-defined breaks away from your job and improve your overall capacity for productivity. As a basic not so out of the box example, let’s say that like me you have multiple jobs, which at the moment due to the lockdown means that you are now working from home instead of the office. The first step is to ‘pretend that you are going into the office’, as the mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive. So to start, do everything that you would normally do to prepare to come into the office. In my case that would be setting an alarm, doing some light blogging work, showering, brushing your teeth and hair, changing out of your jim jams and preparing your bag for work. While you don’t need to pack a bag to stay at home, you can use this time to get your notebooks, documents, post it notes and to-do list sorted for the day, made all the easier by friends at Viking.
Although this is basic, by simulating your office environment it makes it seem like you are going into work, instead of having a slump and sluggishly making your way through the day. You may also play some music, perfume your room and take breaks every hour to walk around and stretch your joints so you aren’t too stiff. If you are looking for a more creative way to break up your day you can do the following:
Turn Your Home Into A Mini- Starbucks – If coffee is your kryptonite and gets you out of bed in the morning, then use that as a propeller to make working from home more fun. How, I hear you ask? Well it’s simple, use your breaks to create a ‘Starbucks experience’ by taking time and care to create your favourite coffee treat- in my case this would be a decaf gingerbread latte with cream and cinnamon sprinkles-and place it into a Starbucks ‘mug’ to get the authentic experience at home. You can use this coffee break to watch videos, message your friends or read a magazine to recharge your batteries.
Play Team Building Games With Your Company– For many companies, working from home is the future, and they have come up with new and fun ways to keep entertained as a team. Team building is a great way to build rapport, improve communication skills and unwind so come up with fun games to keep your team motivated. If you are working on your own or your company is not open to the idea of team building excercises, play one of your own games that don’t need another player. You could play a game on your phone, create a Tik-Tok video or do a treasure hunt.
Put On Some Fancy Dress And Relish In The Silliness Of It– Depending on what your office attire is, i’m pretty sure that most companies wouldn’t allow you to come into the office in fancy dress. But now that we are working from home it is finally your chance to embrace your fun side and put on the silliest fancy dress that you can find. You might decide that you are all about the clown life, was Shrek in a past life or go down the fancy route by putting on your dreamiest ballgown.
Discover Your High Productivity Periods
I mentioned earlier that I have peak productivity periods, and set work according to how productive I am during this times. Let’s take blogging as an example; I already said that I work two jobs and have set hours for my day job, which means that I have to do blogging work before and after work, to separate the two jobs. While I focused on the tasks that I do during weekdays, including checking stats in the morning and drafting blog posts in the evening, I will now outline how I find my ‘peak productivity periods’ during the weekend too. For many of us, our working life ends at the weekend, as we use this time to relax, catch up on shows, see friends and family and do our chores. But for some, including me, work does not end at the weekend and while it’s difficult to find the motivation, when everyone else is not working around you, its important to try. Even if you dedicate just two hours each day to work on your blog, you can use this time effectively to work without exhausting yourself. For example before lockdown, I would normally spend 2 out of 3 days of the weekend at my boyfriend’s, where we would go out on dates, review places or relax, which acted as a buffer after a long, hard week. The remaining day where I would go home, I would be tired, so I would catch up with Ru Paul’s Drag Race and then do some blogging tasks that needed to be done, whether that be drafting up a deadline, researching content ideas, scheduling campaigns or promoting content.
During lockdown however my routine of course has changed, so I now use two out of the three days to truly focus on my blogging. I will usually have a lie in on the Saturday, then begin my day with breakfast and a shower, before getting dressed to set me up for the day ahead. At this point, it will then be around 10- 10.30 Am, where I will begin my days work. At this time I am feeling pretty motivated while working from home, so I will use this time to do ‘bigger projects’ such as writing blog posts, scheduling social content in advance and doing research on topics for future posts, SEO and keyword research or fixing errors behind the scene/ doing technical work such as improving the SEO on previous posts. I will then have lunch around 12/1/2 depending on how motivated I am feeling and treat myself to a well earned rest, eating lunch while watching videos. Depending on how much work I have to finish or how energized I am feeling, I might schedule calls with my friends/family/boyfriend which helps break up the day, create activities for myself like going for a walk or eating cheese and drinking wine and use low productivity periods to answer emails, find inspiration on social media or read other bloggers posts. I would then feel energized once more and continue doing work on the bigger projects, before having dinner, or in some cases start working after dinner.
Get Dressed And Don’t Start Your Work Day In Your PJ’s
Whether you put on a suit and tie, chillax in loungewear or put on your fanciest ball gown, it is important to not start your work day in your PJ’s because it has a mental association with relaxing, being in bed and feeling comfortable which isn’t the best state of mind to be in when you are trying to get deadlines done. While I do technically wear some pj’s as outerwear, it is ok for me to dress in these clothes because I would wear them in a public as well. Depending on the weather, on a warm day I will wear dresses, skirts or jumpsuits and on a colder way I will wear fluffy loungewear, co-ords and loose fitting clothes that are comfortable and are not restrictive. However as I mentioned earlier, not everyone wants to feel ‘cozy at home’ because this can impact their productivity levels. So like earlier when you were simulating your work environment, you can do the same for your clothing choices. In my case I would wear a colourful suit or wear formal trousers or something that is casual smart to nail working from home as though you are in the office. This is not my preferred outfit of choice when I am home, but if I have client meetings, this is a great day to get me in the working mood and look professional even in my own home.
Beyond mentally getting you in the right mindset for work, you’ll be ready to handle any kind of video chat and will be physically and emotionally prepared for the day ahead. After all while it can be fun to do work in your jim jams, getting ‘dressed for success’ isn’t just a corporate catchphrase but a mantra that can help you take charge of the day and get you in the mood to kick virtual ass.
Make An Effort To Connect Beyond Work
It can be all too easy to disappear under your workload when working from home and fail to strike the balance between work and play. However it is important to not fall into this rabbit hole, and make a visible effort to connect with others beyond work, especially now that we are spending large amounts of time at home. For example, while I would see friends a lot before lockdown, I wasn’t always the best at answering messages or calling friends/ family, which is something that I have improved upon during lockdown. Not only did I reconnect with people that I hadn’t spoken to in years, but I also set up weekly zoom/ Skype calls, checked in with my friends and family more and reached out to people online to make new friends. I was always one to look out for my loved ones and check in as often as I could, but now I am being more proactive about fostering my relationships with others, and it has shown me who my true friends are in the face of a crisis. Connecting with others could be doing something as simple as scheduling a Skype call, or it could be something as grand as organizing a cheese and wine Zoom night with your partner for quirky date ideas for couples in lockdown, but whatever you choose to do it is important to connect with others beyond work.
After all if you become consumed with work, you lose track of time, and along the way can gloss over milestones, achievements or important dates in other people’s lives who are central to you. So make sure that you focus on living life in the moment, show others who much you care about them and let off steam by taking time away and disconnecting from work. After all, I find that taking breaks and socializing with others, even if it is done virtually helps me recharge my batteries, and can even improve my work ideas, as I can get inspiration from other people’s conversations. For example a friend of mine told me about how they threw a socially distanced anniversary party with their parents, which followed the theme of a virtual pub crawl, which in turn inspired me with content ideas including ‘How To Celebrate Your Anniversary inn Lockdown’, ‘How To Have A Socially Distanced Birthday Party’, while her idea for naming each room to represent a different activity inspired me for an upcoming post on ‘How To Recreate A Spa Day At Home’. So you see, the more you make an effort to connect with others, the better your balance between work and play will be.
What Are Your Tips For Working Productively From Home?
Please note that I was gifted products from Viking in exchange for this post but all thoughts are my own.