The Working From Home Challenge

I usually blog about my weekends. Because weekends are fun. And last weekend was particularly fun! I guess it helped that I sort of started the weekend already well rested.

Because of the whole Brussels situation, I had to work from home for a week. As you might know from my previous posts, I’m ridiculously bad at working from home. But this week was slightly different. The boyfriend is currently in between jobs, and he wants to change careers. So, he’s at home learning how to program through the CS50 MOOC offered by Harvard. And if he’s being such a good boy, working his ass off trying to learn new things, and I am actually being paid to do exactly that, I felt bad letting myself get distracted. So as the week progressed, I actually worked more and more. I still didn’t do as much as your average PhD student, but I did loads more than I usually do and I’m quite proud really.

So I figured, why don’t I share with you my three new tips and tricks for working from home? Some of you work from home like a boss, I know, so this post is merely for likeminded easily distracted and not so motivated workers. To the bosses out there, you’re welcome to include extra tips in the comments!

  • Firstly, it helps if there are people around you. You feel bad quite easily having your mom or partner give you the (subtle or not) eye for watching another episode of the series you like to binge watch at 10pm or for being on Facebook all afternoon. But if you don’t have anyone around, strangers do the trick as well. Head down to a coffee shop or a library, a place you know work is being done, and you’ll feel equally bad about watching funny cat videos while you should be working. A stranger’s stink eye can be just as effective.
  • Secondly, don’t feel bad when you do decide to take a break. Otherwise you’ll end up frustrated and angry at yourself and you’ll get nowhere. Take for example that new work experiment they’re doing in Sweden: 6-hour workdays for the same pay! The idea is that by having to work less long, you’ll be more efficient. So rather than sighing and moaning and grumping and checking the news website every 5 minutes and sighing again trying to get back to work, just take a break. Watch some telly for an hour, go buy that pair of new shoes you can’t stop thinking about, cook an awesome meal. Don’t be afraid to spend more time on it and enjoy it without worrying about work, it’ll make you so much more efficient afterwards.
  • Thirdly, there is no such thing as work hours. Work when you feel you will be efficient, and do your other stuff when the timing is ideal. Do your grocery shopping at 2pm when there is no one in the shop, and work around 5pm when you would be commuting back home otherwise. Rather than setting designated times to work, just give yourself an aim: at the end of the day, you need to finish this. No matter how long (or short) you spend on it. Oh, and make sure you have daily deadlines, not weekly ones. Otherwise you’ll end up doing nothing Monday to Thursday, being angry at yourself, to then be even angrier on Friday.

Today, I am back at the office and already missing the home working. I think I should try it more often, maybe I was just so bad at it because I didn’t get enough practise! I felt so much more relaxed, not having to worry about the chores to do when you get home as you do them during the day, not having to bother with that horrendous commute, and of course it helps to be around the boyfriend all day. He’s pretty good company!

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