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10 Things You Need to do to Successfully Work From Home

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10 Things You Need to do to Successfully Work From Home

You’ve done it! Congratulations! You’ve finally escaped the clutches of everything you’ve been secretly plotting against for way too long. The grumpy boss. That sardine-like commute. The burning smell of the world’s worst instant coffee drifting from the kitchen. Office politics. Work that didn’t really matter to you.

But somehow it’s 6pm already. Another day has drifted past in a flash. Your feet are still bare because you didn’t feel the need to put socks on today. You’re in familiar surroundings and you don’t have to spend an hour getting home, but what have you really achieved?

Here are ten things you need to do in order to work from home like a boss.

1. Give yourself routine

If working from home is new to you this is going to take a little while to adapt, but the sooner you set parameters for the working day the better. Know where you’re going to work: this might change from morning to evening depending on how light shifts around your home office  –  let’s call it a hoffice. Make sure you’re at the desk by a set time and embrace getting up early, this is ok if you’re the one who decides you have to. Yep, you can play the snooze game, but boy it feels amazing to have nailed a ton of work before 10am.

Map your day according to how you think you’ll feel if you complete a certain set of challenges and let your measure of success revolve around tasks, not time.

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2. Get up, shower, put clothes on

Don’t work from bed. Beds are for sleeping and other kinds of magic, let them be precious and special in their purpose. Wash the night away before doing anything. Getting straight to work because you can, doesn’t mean you’re on fire, because after a while you’re going to start itching. A sweaty homeworker is a silently disgruntled homeworker.

Blast your head with water, get fresh and don’t forget that you’re still a human even if you don’t have to spend your day with others. Now, put some clothes on. Yes, there’s a temptation to wander around in the nude and make phone calls, because you can. But don’t. Wear what you like as long as it’s not pyjamas, but wear something. Now, you’re ready to get started…

3. Focus: read, don’t type over meals

This is about honing your focus and ability to juggle different actions. If one of your hands is holding a spoon or a fork or a knife or a jar or a mug or a piece of fruit, you simply can’t type properly. Stop trying to do everything at once, we’re trying to make you into the most efficient working-from-home-beast possible. Open up a couple of blogs, articles or news pieces and read –  this is stretching for your brain before you start doing cartwheels towards your own work.

4. Prioritise: Write a To Do list, yesterday…

Thinking ‘what do I do now?’ is the first step to potential boredom, and boredom kills dreams. Don’t be a dream killer.

To Do lists sound like they were invented by a cruel master, but they’re the key to self-motivation. This is your list and the summation of the day you’ve decided you’d like to have. Take ten minutes before you sleep every night to make the next day’s list  – give yourself something to be excited about. Prioritise no more than three biggish tasks, and don’t be afraid to have a secondary list on a different page with things that need to be done, but not necessarily tomorrow

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Know what you have to achieve and give yourself a timeframe to realistically do it well.

5. Set the musical mood

Your working environment is key. Be in a room with lots of light. Move your working space and direction around until you’re happy. Don’t have your back to the room, face it.

Working in silence is a distraction so get Spotify premium (other services are available) and find a Focus playlist. Vivaldi is scientifically proven to aid concentration but most classical music is perfect to start your working day (this isn’t about musical preference, it’s just clever ambience). If you’re writing don’t choose tunes with lyrics, you’ll only be tempted to sing along.

My personal favourite is Ludovico Einaudi  –  there’s something special about letting your mind switch off from everything other than what you’re focusing on  –  I’ve written three books to Einaudi, he never fails.

6. Destroy distraction

This is the difference between a good day and a bad day. Put your phone out of reach when you’re working or at the very least put it on Airplane Mode. A WhatsApp notification is distraction. So is a new match on Tinder. Or a new tweet or instagram or Facebook or advert or reminder. Stop it!

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Save direct messages for break time and give your focus a chance to be relentless. Struggling not to automatically click onto Facebook to see how many likes that video of a kitesurfing squirrel has now? There are a couple of self-control apps that will physically stop pages like Facebook opening during the times you choose.

Basically, if anything during the day takes your eyes off the prize at any give moment make sure that you find a way to stop it happening in the future.

7. Work on, work off

If you’re running for a whole day with no stops to refuel, drink or rest, the person who chooses to run for only 45 minutes each hour will go further than you. Be a tortoise and rest your way to victory.

There are a bunch of ways to do this, but here’s a starter: at the beginning of each work session set your phone timer to go off in 50 minutes. As soon as it beeps, stop working for ten minutes. Stand up, move around, drink water, breathe. Try not to look at a screen but if you must, this is your window to check and reply to WhatsApp. Then after ten minutes set the timer, and get going again. Three or four hour-long sessions might feel productive, but you’ll do more if you have multiple rests in that period. Be smart, not relentless.

8. Be email clever…

For years I had a thing: my inbox is my To Do list  – my work isn’t over unless it’s empty. At heart, this meant I got things done, but there was a downside because I never closed it. If you’re an inbox nazi just breathe. Every email you send out is potentially asking for another one back and if you’re in the swing of things you could spend all day on email without time for rest. A productive day is not a day spent online. An open email inbox is a destructive taunt and temptation, and the moment I tried a new technique I started getting more successful.

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So now I only check email at certain times. The first window is 10-10:30am, which gives me two hours on a typical work day to write, create and not get waylaid. Half an hour is enough time to reply to urgent messages and to get a feel for other work or opportunities, but don’t get sucked in. If there are pressing issues another half hour of email in the early afternoon is ok, but I save the bulk of my email clearing until after the working day for most people who email me is over. This way they’re not going to be replying immediately, letting me get on with other stuff.

If you have a remote team and use whatsapp, slack or a similar app to communicate, try not to let it take over your life. Treat it like email, or only engage with it every hour.

9. Group similar activities

Group your skypes, conference calls and in-person coffee meetings. Block out a couple of mornings or afternoons each week for chats and leave the rest free for unbounded, undisturbed work.

10. Get Outside

Don’t forget to exercise. You don’t get it done on your bike commute any more and now that you’re in charge of your own destiny there might be a feeling that if you stop working you’re harming your chances of success. Here’s a newsflash: getting pale and porky in your home office is just going to make you tired and, in the long run, ill. Get some vitamin D, ride a bike, go read on a park bench, smell fresh air. Spend at least one day a week out and about. Go and see real people and get inspired by conversation.

For all the freedoms of working from home, if you don’t make it count that freedom might one day have to get shelved. It doesn’t have to be this way. Be good to yourself, work smart, learn as well as do and base it all on creating a habit to get things done. If you try and cook an elephant every meal, you’ll end up never eating* so break down the big stuff into smaller chunks and tick off hundreds of little tasks a day. Build momentum, be nothing but a doer and when you finally get to bed at the end of the day, make sure that you’ve made it count.

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* Never, ever cook an elephant…

Featured photo credit: Neourban Hipster Office/Markus Spiske via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

15 Best Places for Expats to Live (And Why)

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15 Best Places for Expats to Live (And Why)

Many of us dream of living abroad but can often be scared to make such a big change to our routine lifestyles and leave our home countries behind. Daunting as it may be, living abroad can be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor and can give you the quality of life you have been looking for.

From a warmer climate to a more easy going way of life, there are many foreign countries favored by expats who stay for a long time – and sometimes forever. Taking into consideration livings standards, opportunities and social aspects, here are our top 15 best places to live as an expat and why.

1. Thailand

A hot spot for expats, the ‘land of smiles’ as it’s commonly known offers expats a tropical climate, a huge array of sandy beaches and islands to explore, and a rich culture. The cost of living in Thailand is extremely low, and when combined with the friendly tax system means that disposable income can be very high.

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, offers expats great employment opportunities.

2. Switzerland

Another popular destination for expats, Switzerland offers exciting employment packages and a high standard of living. It’s great for those who love the outdoors, as there are many beautiful lakes, mountains to hike in and skiing in the winter. The school standards for expats are also excellent, making it appealing for those with children. English is also widely spoken so day-to-day living can be stress free.

Unemployment in Switzerland is low and expats moving here don’t need to worry too much about finding a job before they arrive.

3. Australia

Many foreigners who visit Australia don’t want to leave as it offers a great quality of life, beautiful beaches and a warm climate. Making friends in Australia is easy too, due to the lack of language barrier and the large number of expats who already live here. Australia is a great place to move to if you have children because of its wide range of schooling possibilities and recreational outdoor activities.

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Low population levels and high quality of life are two of the main reasons expats choose Australia as a place to live.

4. Singapore

Expats in Singapore can benefit from generous financial packages, great career opportunities and low tax rates. Although education is expensive here, it is rated one of the top places for raising children abroad due to the quality of the education system and the array of schools.

Public transport such as buses and MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) are cheap and very reliable in Singapore.

5. South Korea

South Korea offers expats a unique range of opportunities and a very different way of living. Jobs for expats are easy to find and usually very well paid, with apartments provided by the employer on the most part making living costs even lower. There are also many tight-knit expat communities in South Korea, making it easy to socialize and meet new friends. The excellent education system is also a pro for families wanting to move to this culture-rich country.

South Korea has a cheap public healthcare system and offers great medical care, with most doctors speaking English.

6. New Zealand

New Zealand is constantly on the lookout for skilled workers to expedite to the country – especially those under the age of 30 – and skilled migrants can be granted a stay for up to five years. It offers a good climate and although income levels can be lower than other countries, quality of life is high, with its awe-inspiring scenery, low crime rate and state sponsored healthcare.

New Zealand is great for those looking for a laid back and active outdoors lifestyle.

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7. Canada

Its national healthcare system, friendly locals and very high quality of life are just a few of the reason expats choose Canada as a place to live. It’s very welcoming to expats and skills shortages encourage foreigners to move here in order for the country to grow economically. It’s easy for expats to feel comfortable quickly in Canada due to its multicultural environment.

Canada was largely unaffected by the economic crisis, making it a very popular country for expats.

8. Qatar

Qatar is becoming increasingly popular among expats with an estimated 500 new arrivals every day. The salaries are generous and are tax free too, making disposable income very high. Car and housing allowances are part of many remuneration packages, and education for your children and airfares are often included.

The cost of living is lower in Qatar than in other UAE countries but salaries can still be just as generous.

9. Hong Kong

Where east truly meets the west, this bustling island has a population of over seven million people. If you’re looking for a fast-paced environment and an active nightlife, Hong Kong is definitely the place to be. Benefits for expats include its advanced healthcare system and elevated standards of schooling for children, along with great employment opportunities. The cost of living in Hong Kong can be high, so trying to negotiate a housing allowance with your employer can be beneficial.

Hong Kong is great for those looking for high incomes and career advancement.

10. Japan

As an expat destination, Japan offers a rich culture and a chance to experience a very different day-to-day life. Currently around two million expats live in Japan, and in the larger cities such as Tokyo a large portion of the population speaks English. English speakers are also in demand and there are a large number of opportunities for language teachers, especially in the capital.

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Japan offers a high standard of living for expats and a good education system for those with children.

11. Spain

Spain is a very popular destination for expats due to the high temperatures and year-round sunshine. EU residents don’t require a visa to work here, meaning the move can be a lot easier. Skilled foreign workers also continue to be in demand with jobs such as engineering, customer service, skilled trades and language teachers widely available.

A huge 14% of Spain’s population are expats from a variety of foreign countries.

12. Dubai

Two of the main attractions of moving to Dubai are the tax-free salaries and the warm climate. Some of the most popular jobs for expats are in construction, banking, oil and tourism. You can also enjoy a busy social life in Dubai as the expat community is thriving. Although it can be an expensive country, the tax-free salary means you experience a higher quality of life than in other countries.

You will need a work permit, residence visa and an Emirates ID card to live in Dubai as an expat.

13. Germany

Germany is one of Europe’s most populous countries, with around 82.4 million people. It’s a lively and inexpensive country to live in as an expat, and if you have children the education system is great and healthcare is to a high standard. An estimated 250,000 expats live in Germany currently, with the numbers rising every year.

If you are already an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa to live and work in Germany.

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14. The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a great place for expats who love the outdoors. Cycling is one of the main modes of transport and looking after the environment is widely recognized. There are a lot of English speakers in the Netherlands too, but learning the language can work to your advantage and make day-to-day life that little bit easier. Skilled expats can also benefit from a tax-free allowance equivalent to 30% if they meet the correct criteria.

It is often more important to be able to speak fluent English than to speak Dutch when looking for employment in the Netherlands.

15. China

China offers expats great employment opportunities with little competition. Those who embrace the culture and decide they want to live in China long term can see a host of employment opportunities as its economy is growing rapidly every year. Economists predict it will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy by 2018. China also offer expats low living costs and high disposable incomes, which is why many look to live here for a higher quality of life.

Shanghai and Beijing are the most popular destinations for expats who live in China.

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

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