Many of us are freelancers with years of experience working from home, but thanks to COVID-19, a lot of other people are doing it for the first time—temporarily or long-term. When the pandemic first hit, we collected tips and tricks from PEN members about what they wish they’d known when they started out, and what they do to make their workdays more fun or more productive.
From Anitra Budd:
- Use a timer to make sure you’re taking regular breaks to get up, stretch, rest your eyes, etc. You can use a kitchen timer, an online time tracker like Toggl, or even an online timer with Google (Just type “set a timer for X minutes” into the Google search bar and it’ll start.) Tablets and cell phones also have timers you can use.
- If there are other people who are at home during your working hours and closed-door space is at a premium, consider setting up a designated space to serve as the “conference room” for calls, video chats, etc. You can make a shared calendar (paper or digital) so others can reserve time in the “conference room” without overlapping.
From Ina Gravitz:
- Be flexible as long as you can meet your deadline. Remember you can work whenever (and if you use a laptop wherever) you want!
From Nancy Hupp:
- Try to keep some hours always free from work. Decide a time to finish up for the day and do it. Just because work is sitting there doesn’t mean it is healthy to keep pushing yourself.
From Katherine Kirk:
- Become familiar with apps such as Discord and Skype or other VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services so you can have a continuous, live chat with your nearest and dearest while dominating your to-do list. You can always mute it if you need to focus for a bit and drop back into the chat when you need to. Hearing other people’s voices rather than just reading their messages in a WhatsApp group can make a world of difference.
- Make sure you’re getting some sunshine where you can, making art, doing your hobbies, spending time in nature if possible, and getting some physical exercise.
From Carla Lomax:
- If you’re a member of a gym, check for online classes. Many gyms
have posted video workouts for members so you can keep your regular workout schedule. You’ll just need to clear a little space to do it.
- Get into a routine. Take a shower and get dressed before you work. Remember to get up for breaks and stick to a normal work schedule as much as possible.
From Madeleine Vasaly:
- Think about ergonomics. If you don’t normally work from home much or at all, your home workspace might not be set up to work comfortably for long stretches. And you might not realize how uncomfortable it is until you’ve been working full days in your home office for two weeks and caused yourself an unexpected injury.
- Try to stick to a regular lunch schedule. Eat away from your workspace or computer, whether that means moving to another room or even moving to a different seat at the table you’re working at.
- If your home workspace is noisier than your office, use an app like Rainy Mood or pull up white noise or ambient sounds on YouTube to help focus and block out distractions.
These tips previously appeared in Networking News, the Professional Editors Network’s members-only newsletter. Join PEN today to get the newsletter in your inbox every month—plus access to our archive of past issues.