In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, professionals across the globe are adapting to, what is for many, an entirely new way of working. Although working from home can take some getting used to, you can start thriving in no time with the Swanky team’s very own selection of home working hacks, focused on boosting both your productivity and your well-being!
#1 Write your to-do list in advance
A good to-do list cannot be underestimated, that’s for sure, but have you considered writing your day’s to-do list the day or night before? Doing so not only allows you to reflect on your daily productivity, as you consider what has been accomplished, and what is yet to complete, but it also means you can jump straight into tasks the following morning. You could take this extra time the day before to decide the exact order in which to complete tasks the next day, prioritising any urgent responsibilities.
Sammy Fraser, Digital Strategy Manager at Swanky, says “I finish each day writing a manageable to do list for the following day. Capitalising on my most productive periods, I save harder tasks for when I typically will have more headspace.”
#2 Establish a solid morning routine
Developing a good tailored morning routine will get you in the right frame of mind for a productive day of home working. Whilst you may wish to embrace the warmth of that slightly longer lay-in, or remain in your cosy PJs, try to stick to your normal morning routine. By setting your alarm and waking up at a sensible time each day, being sure to get washed and dressed as usual, you are going to feel put-together and motivated to tick off that to-do list.
Sammy notes “losing the morning commute has meant I am able to start even earlier, when I am the most productive.” Like Sammy, you might want to grasp this additional free time in the morning for an earlier working start. Or, if you miss that morning commute to rally yourself around, and you’re not self-isolating, why not take a brisk morning walk or jog as your very own mock-commute?
Cherry Shepherd, Office Manager at Swanky, has a top tip for anyone returning from a spot of morning exercise: “when you return, imagine you are entering the office and not just coming home”.
#3 Jazz up your workspace
We’ve all heard the classic adage ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’, but did you know that there are less mundane ways to boost your brain power? By making aesthetic alterations to your room, you can transform your mood and your mindset.
One light bulb tip from our Head of Marketing, Jen Caust, is to “change the lighting in your room every hour or so — this is shown to trigger brain activity!”. Think lamps, fairy lights, and other ambient light sources, not forgetting to open up your curtains and/or blinds for that all-important natural lighting.
To feel extra comfortable and relaxed in your pad, keep plants and flowers in sight, and have your pet(s) nearby. Jen adds that these have “age-old associations for the brain with a healthy environment.”
It can feel overwhelming waking up to an intense workload at home. But by implementing key time management strategies, you can tackle tasks quicker, and with more efficiency. For example, Swanky’s Lead Project Manager, John Ball, recommends planning time slots for specific tasks, so that you know exactly what you’re doing and when:
“Home working is time management to the extreme. Everything has a time slot with flexibility included […] this can also coincide with catching up with family who are also working from home, to simply check in with everyone.”
So, if you start working at 8.30am, you could decide to spend 2 hours, between 8.30am and 10.30am, handling client calls, and then from 10.40am – 12.40pm replying to client emails, and so on. John also reminds us to schedule breaks into our time plans/diaries too, with at least one 10-minute break every 2 hours.
Before writing out the intricate details of your schedule, be sure to set the boundaries of your working day first — this includes deciding on your start and finish times, just the same as when you normally enter and exit the office. This will help you to distinguish your working time from your home time.
#5 Have a central work area, but mix it up
Find the best place in your household to keep as your key work area. This space may be your office, at a desk in your bedroom, or your kitchen table. Wherever it is, the more separate it is from your home life, the better.
Nichola Birch, Swanky’s Digital Product Manager, advises keeping to this central space for the bulk of your working day, but she also advocates taking video calls, like virtual team meetings, in a different location, such as in your living room. Doing so means “you get a bit more movement, and it is more like in the office, where you get up to move to the meeting room.”
If you don’t have a dedicated office space, ensure you switch off your work device and tidy away any paperwork at the end of the working day. This eradicates the temptation to reply to just one more email, especially if your notifications keep on buzzing away.
With the separation that social distancing has forced between us, it is more important than ever to keep in touch with your team, and your connections.
Paul Davis, Digital Project Administrator over at Swanky’s Australia office, promotes using online chat to ensure you’re getting plenty of social interaction: “we have video meetings with the entire team at least twice a day, and I chat with other friends after work. It’s stopped me from going mad so far!”
Our Lead Front-End Web Developer Down Under, Andrew Newman, concurs: “keep up contact with your teammates. Try maintaining a resemblance of ‘normal’ and keeping up your culture as much as possible. Doing this with a mixture of Slack and video chat is important.”
And it doesn’t have to stop at video calls — Nichola even recommends over-communicating your actions: “working from home, people cannot see what you’re doing as they can in the office, so be sure to update others on what you’re doing, whether this be through Slack, Wrike, Trello, or Skype — whatever system you are using.” Let people know when you’re stepping out, or when you’re signing off for the day, and when you do, don’t forget to say goodbye to your team members! Everyone can stay informed and connected this way.
Don’t forget to crack a joke either! Distance doesn’t have to be bland — keep up the casual chat across channels, and certainly don’t be shy to share a silly GIF or two!
#7 Stay invigorated — take breaks!
It’s important to take a break. If you struggle to part from your desk when you’re absorbed in work, set yourself an alarm as a clear reminder. There are many different ways to optimise your breaks. Whatever you do, boost your circulation by standing up, moving about, and having a stretch, and give your zapped eyes a rest whilst you’re at it.
Using a shorter break to make a cuppa, grab a snack, and top up your water is a sure-fire way to recharge and prepare for your next working session. Sam Wilkinson, one of our resident Web Designers, certainly agrees, with his top home-working hack being “take many tea breaks to get up and move around.”
There are many other ways to make the most of your off-time. For longer breaks, such as your lunch break, consider tying in a walk in the fresh air, or partaking in another form of exercise.
#8 Pick a playlist (but minimise other distractions)
The majority of us Swankashians thrive working along to a groovy tune in the background (check out our Growth Accelerator Team’s lockdown playlist). For Alistair Gibson, Junior Web Developer at Swanky, music is key to home working happiness: “figure out a comfortable setup, with lots of good music and as few visual distractions as possible”.
Andrew agrees to minimise distraction where possible: “If you can, set yourself up where there’s no TV, or not as much noise. That’s going to make it easier for you to stay focused and stay on track with what you’re doing.”
Listening to music and the radio can be really stimulating, but if you begin to zone out, try mixing up your genres. For example, if you’re the kind to get carried away singing along to vocals, perhaps you could select instrumental music instead.
So, there you have it, Swanky’s top home working hacks! It’s likely that once you establish a great home working routine, with the help of these tips, you’ll find yourself far more productive at home than you would normally be in the office!
Get in touch
Our teams in the UK and Australia may be working from home, but we’re still busy working away on projects as usual. To find out more about how Shopify Plus and its rich ecosystem of plug-ins can transform your ecommerce store, and even improve the agility of your home working team, get in touch with Swanky today!