Given the Enhanced Community Quarantine, several companies and organizations have adopted a work-from-home scheme, with only a skeletal workforce reporting for duty. For many of us who are used to the office scenario, it’s challenging to focus and get things done at home. After all, how can you keep track of deadlines when the bedroom looks more enticing? Whether you’ve managed the WFH setup well or you’ll still trying to get by, we’ve got tips that can help. These pros have been working from home way before the Luzon lockdown and they have mastered it well. Take note of their handy hints below:
Have a schedule
Since I work with clients who are based overseas, I prepare a two-week or weeklong calendar of my daily tasks. I have established a work routine already whether I am at home, working from a coffee shop, or by the beach in El Nido with my reliable Wi-Fi modem. I see to it that I finish all the major tasks and send the report at the end of my working hours. My clients and I communicate via email or WhatsApp. Most of the time, we don’t need a video conference, but if need be, we agree on a schedule that is good for both parties. When we do, I make sure that I’m not in a noisy environment and my Internet connection is trustworthy. As much as possible, I need to be at my work station at home when we do video calls as it’s the best place devoid of distractions and unnecessary interruptions, plus the Internet is reliable. Although not a must, I also try to boot up my computer at around the time that I know my client is also working so that I can minimize the waiting time should he have queries that need immediate feedback. – Ericka Mallorca, Social Media Manager
Time management is key
I’ve been working from home since 2010, but not always as a virtual assistant. I’ve been a writer and editor before becoming a virtual assistant which has been my work for more than five years now. I was a new mom then, and a single one at that so I needed to take care of my baby while earning for both of us and running the household. Time management was really a skill I needed to master back then. I had help from my mom but she has her own stuff to manage as well. For the past five years or so since my daughter started going to school, my schedule has always looked like this, saved for some occasions:
- Wake up early morning to cook breakfast and help my daughter prepare for school. Bring her to school.
- Work from home until about noon time. Prepare a meal if I need to and if I have more time. Fetch daughter if she needed fetching.
- Work until late afternoon. Fetch daughter. Do her homework or we play. And then I make time for myself or do the house chores.
My weekends are completely free from work so that’s the time that I really get to bond with my family. We dine out, watch a movie at the mall or go out of town. Sometimes, we stay home and watch kiddie movies.
I think the key here is to establish a routine that works for you, then stick to it. Avoid unnecessary distractions like food in your work station – though I always have my coffee with me, watching non-work-related videos, frequent social media visits or chatting with friends on social media, among many other things. – Karenina Dueñas, Virtual Assistant
I really don’t have a solid routine to speak of because I’m not working from home all the time. Sometimes I need to cover an event or interview someone, and my editor needs the story right away. That’s why I always carry my trusty laptop and work from wherever I am, be it a café or a parking lot. I think for someone like me, it’s really the discipline that works. I procrastinate sometimes but I see to it that I beat the deadline before it beats me. I think whether you are working from home or not, it’s really the output that matters in my line of work. Over the years I have developed the discipline of doing my job well, wherever I am. It matters a lot if I have enough resources, but these days it’s usually just high-speed Internet connection. Years have taught me to focus and drown out the noise of the crowd if I really need to submit a story immediately. And it’s great. I like the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day or night when my work is all done, and I can just chill and watch my favorite shows on Netflix. – Lyssa Lee, Freelance writer
Avoid distractions and stick to your goals
Time-bracketing works well for me. For example, if I’m working on a project, I stay at it for at least 2 hours. I put my focus on it, and I do nothing else besides so as not to waste time. Then after, either I take a break and play music, prepare a meal or take a walk. Sometimes, I squeeze in gym-time in between.
For me, you need to structure your day in such a way that there is not much to distract you from your so-called mission for the day. It’s so easy to get distracted especially at home but with practice, it becomes a routine. Try to create an environment that supports your ideal work-scenario. My ideal work scenario is that I give everything into a task for at least two hours or more if needed, then I take a much-needed break and that’s when I do my personal stuff. Also, if you can avoid eating while working, I think it’s a healthier routine. Coffee is a necessity for me though. – Yan Sanchez, Content Producer