Every working day, I trot out of my dollhouse sized apartment and down the highways and byways of Wellington to the office I work in. It’s very nice, but it’s also literally one giant room with over a hundred desks in it. It is not quiet. Have I mentioned my job involves a lot of reading and thinking?
So, on occasion I work from home, because although my apartment is small it comes with a key feature – a non-negotiable in my apartment hunt – and that is an office. It’s so quiet, and I can wear my pyjamas and eat chips really loudly without feeling bad about it/getting sent home. It’s drenched in sun and I can open the windows.
As I’ve begun my exciting journey of occasionally working from home, I’ve realised that there’s a reason that dressing up for work is important. Much like wearing something fancy on your anniversary, the way you dress gets you in the mood – to analyse complex information and make a series of robust judgments. Being a lawyer. Sexy.
This outfit was what I wore one morning a few weeks ago when I had some major work to get through. I’ve tried the pyjamas/chips combo, and found I got too distracted – the ritual of getting ready for work, which I’ve followed for over a decade, proved to be critical to getting myself in the right frame of mind.
Earlier this week Wellington experienced a bit of an earthquake, which meant we weren’t allowed in our offices on Monday while we waited for engineers to check over them. However, I have things to do and goals to achieve (and needed some normality), so instead of taking the day off, I logged into my emails from home, created a list, and got down to it. I saw two people that day – the nice men who run the local shop, where I went to buy eggs – but I had a shower and put on makeup, because that’s part of the ritual of getting ready for work.
Equally important has been the office space itself. When I first moved into the dollhouse in February, this room got the least attention. It was tidy but full of miscellaneous crap. After I started the blog, and started working from home on occasion, I started to spend a lot more time in my office and wow, did I ever hate that space. I put in a bit of effort, and it’s become a space I enjoy spending time in, and that means I’m less likely to procrastinate and watch Netflix on the couch until the last possible moment.
My key tips for working from home are:
- Be prepared. It is so annoying to have to ask colleagues to email you things or share documents with you because you didn’t think ahead. If you’re working from home regularly, you might need to get additional copies of key materials to keep at home so you don’t have to lug them back and forth.
- Dress like you’re going into the office. Put on the Work Costume to help yourself click into the right zone for getting things done (like a boss).
- Know what you need to achieve and how long you have to do it. There are tons of distractions at home – never was my flat so tidy as it was when I was at home, studying for exams – so I find I have to set myself a clear goal and a clear deadline.
- You need the right tools for the job! I love a massive desk so I can spread out, and of course a laptop is necessary. I like to make lists, highlight things, write on Post-Its and generally create an artificial sense of control, so my top drawer is full of all the old school stationery I need, too.
- Take the opportunity to wear in a pair of shoes. These yellow numbers were new and I knew they would be a challenge as they’re extraordinarily high. The leather had a chance to warm up and become flexible before I tried to walk anywhere in them.
- Play some music, eat some snacks. There’s no one here to judge you, or to be disturbed, so if you work best with loud music or while mechanically eating grapes, shine on you crazy diamond. I love listening to Bob Ross painting videos on YouTube, so I’ll play one through my Bluetooth speaker while I work at home.
- Multitask the shiz out of it. Yes, you should focus first on work. But I think chucking a load of laundry on to hang out in your lunch break, or painting your nails so they’ll dry while you scroll through your emails and plan your day, is just good time management.
- Remind your team that you are, in fact, present. Send a few emails, set up a few meetings for when you are back in the office. Not such a big deal when you’re at home for a few hours working on a finite project, but if you’re out for a few days or working remotely, it’s important to give the sense of availability so your colleagues know they can reach you and rely on you if needed.
But most of all, enjoy it. After all, working from home gives you greater autonomy, which we know leads to greater satisfaction.