COVID-19 is changing the way we work. Fast. Leaving aside jokes about toilet roll, its likely we’re all going to be spending more time working at home.
The ad industry has long included effective sole traders who happily work from home. Or anywhere convenient. Long before Digital Natives in Lisbon became the poster children for this lifestyle.
So how do you do it well?
The following are just a few strategies that I’ve found useful while running a busy Production Company in London and living in Brighton.
And, in this crazy period we all hope is over soon, I hope they help:
- Don’t work too hard. It is not sustainable to start working at 08:00 when you normally leave home on your commute and finish working at 20:00 when you normally get home. Maybe you can do this without breaks for one day, even two. But all week? No way. The human body and mind simply won’t do it.
- Do define each day. Break it down into blocks. This is different from simply writing yourself a list of tasks. Block out the things you need to get done and put blocks of time in-between doing the stuff you most enjoy. Blocking the day like this means you’re less likely to get bored, which is when your productivity will drop.
- Do create task lists. Preferably at the end of your self-agreed working day so you are ready for the next morning.
Blocking the day means you’re less likely to get bored, which is when your productivity will drop.
- Do have breaks. A change in activity is as good as a rest if not better. If you have been sitting down on your laptop for an hour, get up and make a call, walk around. Or put a wash on, look up a recipe to cook later for your partner. Adding a few home tasks into your breaks makes time later to relax.
- Don’t give in to the temptation. A break is not catching up on Netflix. That half episode you want to catch up on…don’t, it’s an addiction. You will be there for hours.
- Do exercise and get stimulation. You’re getting a lot less incidental exercise and stimulation at home. Block out time for some sustained physical exercise. More than you normally do. And time to catch up with friends and family. Even if you can’t go out and see them in the next few weeks, you will need to keep in touch. The balance is not the same at home, working alone, especially at this time.
A break is not catching up on Netflix.
- Don’t keep track of your emails all day. In your normal working hours you’d have meetings, times when travelling when you don’t think about your emails. Agree with yourself when you’ll respond to clients and suppliers, or you’ll get nothing done. Especially if you are like me and every device notifies you of everything.
- Don’t sit in the common areas of your house after 6pm and think that everyone should be quiet because you haven’t finished working. Normal family or shared living will carry on and you are not the centre of the universe. So tidy up!
- Do put in treats for yourself and get outside. Even if it’s in your own back yard! Under more normal circumstances it might be the Thursday yoga class or the lunch with a friend. Do it when you can. Flexible living has its benefits so take advantage as much as possible.
Agree with yourself when you’ll respond to clients and suppliers, or you’ll get nothing done.
I have found working at home is like a club. Clients and suppliers who understand this world have a code; we have a common ground.
I can email an Edit Producer who we use regularly and I know she will answer late at night. Because that’s when her daughter is in bed. A director we work with will answer first thing in the morning before he goes climbing. You get to know each other’s rhythms and fundamentally you have to trust each other.
All of us work incredibly hard, it’s just we each choose when, during our individual 24 hour cycles.
Don’t panic if they don’t respond straight away. All of us work incredibly hard, it’s just we each choose when, during our individual 24 hour cycles.
Welcome to a very rewarding way of working! You may never want to go back….