Working From Home Tips & Tricks
For many of our artists, working from home is quite normal, however with lockdowns in place a lot of people are experiencing it for the first time. Lucky for the Bluethumb team, we’ve been taking regular work from home days for years and are well-practised at maintaining productivity and work/life boundaries even while sitting in our kitchens. Last year I was lucky enough to work from home for most of the year while I lived abroad in the UK. During that time I extensively researched the top tricks and best practices for the work from home life, so I thought I’d share the advice I found most useful here.
1. Dress For Success
There’s no denying that tracksuit pants are extremely comfortable. Plus, with no one to judge you it’s extremely tempting to wear your ugliest (and comfiest) pair. But our brain functions on associations, and tracksuit pants mean leisure. To get yourself squarely in the work zone, wear the same clothes you would to a day in the studio or office. There’s a reason this is one of the most common pieces of advice for working from home – having tried working in my pjs and comfiest clothes, I really noticed a difference in my outlook and energy levels.
2. Create a Welcoming Workspace
With the couch sitting right there and looking so comfy, it pays to make your workspace really inviting. Hang your favourite art that inspires your best work (my desk is surrounded by a gorgeous portrait from Katherine Gailer, a Marnie McKnight abstract in deep earthy reds and rich blues, a cute polar bear drawing from my friend Annalise Vine and an embroidered Female Form piece by Jasmine Radakovic. All these artworks give me that inspiring Girl Power! energy).
Aside from trying to tempt yourself to your desk, having an inviting workspace will allow you to create zones in your house and keep boundaries between your work and your personal lives. This is especially important in a small dwelling where everything gets crammed into one or two rooms. It makes a huge difference when you switch off for the day and make a physical transition from the desk to the couch and really signals to your brain to let go of work problems and stresses.
When I worked in the UK, I took this a step further and had different zones for different tasks. For most of my duties I worked diligently from my desk, however when it came to something more creative – writing blogs for example – I needed to free myself up and found my best work came from the couch where I was more relaxed and in the flow. Tune into your work rhythms and decide what works for you and your work, whether it be a more rigid zone of focus or a place to relax and let your creative juices run free.
3. Get Up and Move!
Without the distractions of coworkers, meetings or tea room chit chat, it’s easy to sit and work for so long that your limbs go numb. Keep the blood flowing and get up and move around. There are many ways to tackle it – dance breaks, quick exercise reps or my personal favourite, tackling some household chores. Why not make the most of being at home by taking 5 minutes to make a cup of tea and put the washing on at the same time?
During our daily anti-isolation chats, Freddy often tells me that he has the best boss at home – Grungle. As the chief office dog and morale booster, Grungle is a stickler for taking breaks and often recommends a walk around the block as the best way to refresh your mind and keep your legs moving. All those delicious smells are just a bonus!
4. Maintain Boundaries
Keep your work mode and life mode separate so that you can give 100% to both. Having too much of one leak into the other will affect both negatively – how many of us have got into arguments with partners when we’re still working late at night and not giving them the attention they desire? Or noticed your work performance slip because you got too distracted by home issues?
When you sign on to work in the morning, sign on completely. Put down your bowl of cereal, turn off the morning news and abandon thoughts of what to make for dinner. Make sure you’re in the same frame of mind you would be when you step into the office. The same when you sign off – put down all your work. It can wait until tomorrow.
5. Be Flexible
This is my biggest piece of advice and the most important. All the above are important, but what it really comes down to is responding to your own life rhythms. Every once in a while working from your bed or in your trackies is what you need for a good day – and that’s ok. Just keep these in your back pocket for when you really need them, and try to keep to a good routine when everything is running along smoothly. On the 2 times I let myself work from my bed it felt like a real indulgence and helped me weather illness without neglecting my work.
6. Stay Connected
This one is especially important right now, when you can’t just stop by the pub for a drink with your mate. We’re lucky that technology has evolved to make isolation easier than ever, thanks to instant messaging, social media and video hangouts. At Bluethumb we’re pretty good at keeping in touch, using our Slack messenger to discuss everything – we even have a channel to show off our almost-amazing coffee art! Slack is “the glue that holds the whole company together when working from home,” co-founder George Hartley told the Sydney Morning Herald.
We’re also encouraging our community of artists to stay connected through our Artists’ Facebook group and on social media – with many of our posts encouraging them to share their experiences working from home. This time can be particularly rough on artists who run their own small businesses without coworkers (of the human kind anyway!) they can chat with regularly. Join the conversation on our Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
Working from home is something that artists and Bluethumb team are quite used to, but for many people it's a new experience. Take a leaf out of Grungle's book and make time to get outside and smell the roses. . It's important to stay connected with your community during isolation and look after your mental health while you protect your physical health. We'd love to hear your experiences working from home or any advice you'd like to share in the comments below. ⬇️💙