Working from home rule #1: It is not an extended weekend.
You probably know by now that all over the world, Governments are dishing out Work from Home (WFH) orders to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading further.
Working anywhere in the world, est. 2015.
At The Travel Intern, we’re no stranger to the concept of working from home. Long before COVID-19 was a thing, Fridays were WFH days for the team.
While we’re used to WFH (or working anywhere in the world for that matter), we get that it can feel isolating and unproductive. From what we’ve learnt over the years, here’re 11 tried-and-tested tips from the team to still get shit done wherever you are.
Absolute mistakes to avoid
1) You’re not getting any work done from the bed
It’s a trap!
It’s tempting to want to stay in bed all day when you’re working from home. I mean, you have the freedom to work anywhere so why not WFB (work-from-bed)?
In reality, WFB only results in many unintended naps. Some studies believe this happens because the clear divide between work and relaxation has been blurred. It can also lead to a lower quality of sleep down the line.
Photo credit: @whitecoatcouple via Instagram
If WFB is making you catch up on zzz‘s rather than actual work, it’s time to set up a dedicated workspace away from the bed. Ideally, it should be in a quiet place with a chair that provides good back support.
Photo credit: Edition.cnn.com
Get creative if you’re lacking the essentials! A friend of mine set up her “office” using a mahjong table. For a super-budget standing desk, use a tall shelf or a ladder ☝️
2) Not wearing “real” clothes
Goodbye PJs, hello (super) Casual Friday!
When asking the team how they improved WFH productivity, our BCM (Business Continuity Manager, not bak chor mee) suggested changing clothes.
Yes, that means getting out of your PJs and wearing pants as you would to the office. The reason is, unlike sleepwear, wearing “real” clothes gets you into the work mindset. It can also help you feel more in control of your day.
3) Snacking too much
Hmm… What’s for lunch?
WFH comes with many perks: (a) your kitchen is nearby, (b) you save money by eating at home, and (c) no need to fight your colleagues over the pantry (sorry not sorry!). The problem is, you end up eating and/or snacking a lot more than you usually do.
Stick to the regular meal times as if it were a usual office day. It’ll take a lot of discipline, but it’s better than the #foodcoma regret that three breakfasts and two lunches will bring.
It’ll probably also prevent this ^ just sayin’. Photo credit: @9GAG via Twitter
If you’re feeling peckish, drink lots of water and go for light, healthy snacks such as fruit, yoghurt or nuts. You can also chew on mints to curb your cravings.
*Pro-tip: Use an old wine bottle as a water bottle. It’s 750ml so you won’t have to refill as many times and will probably drink more water when it’s conveniently next to you.
4) Start your day with a to-do list
Whether at home or in the office, starting a workday without a clue of what to tackle can throw you off. To stay focussed, make a to-do list of what you want to complete every day.
For us, we start every workday by sharing with the team our “daily snapshots” — a list of to-dos and what we’re working on. Not only does this keep us accountable for our work, it also updates our project manager and bosses on we’re working on for the day. We do this via Asana, but there are many minimalist to-do lists like Google Task and Any.do which work great on mobile too.
5) Stick to official working hours
This kind of routine is lethal. Photo credit: Tenor.com
In the office, the time to pang kang (Hokkien for “end work”) is clear-cut. However, when it’s WFH, it can be hard to step away from your laptop simply because you’re already home. Speaking from personal experience, it’s even harder when you’re a workaholic! ☠️
Create a work schedule and do your best to stick to it. It’s important to maintain a healthy work and home life to prevent burnouts, especially when WFH may be a more common arrangement in future.
6) Plug-in and listen to music
When it’s crunch time, there’s nothing more annoying than having your concentration broken by someone who’s constantly yapping away (not now, mum). In times like these, wear headphones! It’s an efficient way to send the “do not disturb” signal to everyone when you’re working from home.
For productivity-boosting tunes, we’ve found that video game or film soundtracks work well — they’re familiar and have few lyrics to distract you. Our favourites include The Sims 3, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and (of course) lo-fi hip hop beats. The latter also has a meme-worthy Lee Hsien Loong version, to help us tide through the COVID-19 outbreak.
7) Take regular breaks
Our regular work breaks include ping-pong tournaments.
Let’s be honest: It’s hard to work for eight hours straight, even if you’re completely in the zone. Refresh your mind by adding regular breaks throughout your workday. Numerous studies have shown that doing so can reduce mental fatigue and improve productivity.
Now, we don’t mean mindlessly scrolling through Facebook for 15 minutes (though we’re guilty of that too). Spend your break doing something recharging like stretching, going for a quick walk, grabbing a snack, watching funny YouTube videos, or playing a chill game of ping-pong!
8) Set times to complete each task
It’s normal to lose track of time when you’re fully engrossed in a task. While it’s great that you’re zoomed in, it can also mean that you might be spending far too much time on something.
Work smarter by giving yourself a set time to complete each task you’re doing for the day. You can use time-management apps like Pomodoro, which breaks 30-minute chunks into 25 minutes of focussed work and five-minute breaks. Some apps allow you to adjust the timing as you see fit; just don’t forget to enjoy your well-deserved break!
Staying healthy — in mind and body
9) Share funny memes with your work buds
What happens when you can’t stop the wanderlust. Photo credit: @ABananaRambling via Twitter
WFH can be pretty isolating. Unless you have pets or family around, the lack of human interaction can quickly ramp up the sense of loneliness.
Check in with your co-workers via texts or video chats like Zoom. Just reaching out and connecting with others can do wonders in boosting team morale — it’s something your social battery will also thank you for.
I’m not sure when I started working with a potato or a floppy disk, but okay.
If you have a closer relationship, add some humour to your online meetings or share funny memes and lighthearted TikTok videos with the team! Laughter is truly the best medicine, especially when you’re all stuck in shitty situations together.
10) WFH: Workouts for home
It’s easy to become a couch potato when the most amount of movement you’re getting is strolling from the bedroom to your workspace… or the kitchen.
The great thing is calories aren’t only burnt in the gym. There are loads of exercises you can do at home, from basic push-ups and squats to HIIT circuits. No need for fancy equipment either — all you need is a yoga mat and your body weight! Check out these simple but effective bodyweight exercises that you can do at home or anywhere 💪
To improve your flexibility and strength, try yoga. The calming practice offers numerous health benefits every WFH warrior needs, such as stress relief and improved sleep quality. To help you get started, we recommend apps like Downdog — you get to choose your desired length of practice, level, and even the background music!
11) Make time for meditation
No matter where you are, one of the most effective ways to manage everyday stress is to meditate. Just being mindful of the breath can help you stay grounded amidst many changing situations. Think: I can’t control everything, but I can control how I deal with the situation.
If you haven’t tried meditation before, our advice is to start small — just five minutes is enough to make a difference. We love using Headspace. It’s a soothing, beginner-friendly app that guides you through the process, something that we think you’ll love too!
Being “confined” to WFH doesn’t mean you’ll go nuts! It’ll be challenging at the beginning, but once you iron out the starting issues and establish a routine, it becomes easier to stay focussed and motivated.
Who knows, you might even realise that there are many perks that come with WFH. My personal favourite is that I can wake up 10 minutes before official working hours! 🙌
We hope these tips help with your own WFH situation. Besides taking care of yourself during this sensitive period, keep up the positive vibes by focussing on good news besides COVID-19, or doing something fun like quizzes or a workout sesh.
For the ultimate break, you can also treat yourself and your loved ones with your very own home staycation! It may not be as lavish as an actual staycation, but hey — if your home can be turned into an “office”, why can’t it be a hotel too? 😉
What other hacks do you use when working from home? Share your tips in the comments below!