Like everybody, I am reeling from the overnight change in professional and social protocols being implemented to protect us from the impact of Coronavirus. I don’t like it one bit and it is very frightening so let us pledge to treat each other with kindness and compassion over the next few tricky weeks.
I have been freelance and running businesses remotely ‘from home’ for most of my working life. Some of this predates the web and social media revolution so I have seen the impossible become possible over the last 30 years. I would therefore urge us all to have a positive attitude to changing our working practice and embrace the advantages that today’s technology offers us.
I apply a few personal ‘rules’ that have helped me to juggle professional commitments with bringing up my family and not having an office. It’s all about being flexible but a little bit of structure and routine will help.
Here are a few of my tips for ‘agile’ working:
Schedule your working hours
Aim to start work and be ‘at your desk’ at a set time every day. This should suit your personal schedule which might include school runs or catching up on rest after a late night gig.
Get washed and dressed so that you feel like you ‘mean business’. If I stay in my pyjamas I don’t have the same professional mindset. I also wear a little bit of make up as it makes me feel more presentable – we will be increasing our use of apps like Zoom and Skype so I treat these like face to face meetings.
Keep people informed
Use widgets like ‘out of office’ email notifications to advise your clients and suppliers of your availability and leave yourself time to deal with family commitments and check in with friends during these unusual circumstances.
Use a diary
Book in telephone calls either electronically using mobile apps or use a good old-school paper diary – I now do this routinely and it helps me to keep track of my schedule and time the calls. This also helps to build in some structure to your working day.
Talk to people!
There’s nothing like talking to somebody – so much gets misinterpreted between emails, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and other social media platforms. Plus, it saves time – so much more can be achieved in a 15-30 minute phone call where you focus on the plan.
Collaborate and share
Isolation affects us all in different ways. Sometimes it can be a welcome creative space or it can be frightening and lonely. Gather your collaborators around you virtually, find ways to share the workload and any cashflow so that it all goes that little bit further than normal.
Look after yourself
Take regular breaks, go outside if you can, drink plenty of water and listen to some comedy! There’s so much to choose from on podcast or radio and laughter increases the production of happy hormones like serotonin to regulate your mood and endorphins to help you to destress.
Stay well – I’m here to chat if you need – and let’s stay positive.