The ultimate work-from-home checklist

Aug 06, 2020

Before COVID-19, I had the opportunity to switch my environment every time I needed to boost my creativity. Cozy cafes and beach bars were my go-to place of work.

This helped me set clear boundaries between work time and personal time, which consequently helped me balance my life.

If you liked getting out of the house every day like I did, being forced to work from home might be a nightmare for you. And for many of us, the blurring lines between work life and personal life can cause havoc and stress.

It helps to have work-from-home strategies in place, and the best way to approach this is with checklists.

Work-From-Home 101

Before we get to everyday best practices, we have to look at some prerequisites.

  1. Sort out that internet connection: Having fast and reliable internet at home is now non-negotiable. In the past, you might have put up with crappy internet, but now, it's a matter of earning your living.
  2. Invest in the right gadgets/software: With the right headphones, mic, and camera, you will see your productivity soar. But you also need some feature-packed remote work software that allows screen sharing and control. Cutting off a call when you hit the time limit because you are using free services is not good for your brand. And being able to see, hear, and be heard clearly is critical.
  3. Set up a workspace: It might be tempting to laze around the house, kick back, and get on with your daily goals, but there are several reasons why you should not work where you relax. Set up a quiet place that is dedicated solely to work. This is the simplest way to create a distinction between your work life and your personal life. Make sure you have a laptop stand, ergonomic chair, etc. to stay comfortable if you are pulling off a full workday, and alternate between sitting and standing while you work.
  4. Set up a communication protocol: Communicating with your clients or team when you are working from home is significantly different from being in a shared office space. You might find that getting in sync with each other is a major issue. There are many tools to improve communication while working from home and create a communication protocol.
  5. Set boundaries with your family/friends: Your family/roommates might not be used to seeing you working from home. They might come to talk to you or ask you to do chores, disturbing your workflow. Set up clear boundaries with the people you live with — like, if you are sitting at your desk or have headphones on, you’re not available to them — so they know not to disturb you when you are working.

Once the above are taken care of, you are ready to maximize your work-from-home mode.

Daily Checklist for Maximum Productivity While Working From Home

#1: Dress as if you are actually going to the office (in a comfy way)

#2: Create and follow a daily schedule (for tomorrow)

#3: Use both text and video communication. Every day!

#4: Keep distractions at bay

#5: Spend time on lead generation/collaboration

#6: Power naps are your best friend

#7: Stay hydrated and keep munchies around

#8: Ensure that your workspace and documents are organized

#9: Physical activity. Yes! It exists.

#10: Engage in team-building activities outside of work

#1: Dress as if you are actually going to the office (in a comfy way)

Your brain has made certain associations with productivity over the years, and the primary association is how your body feels when you wear your work clothes.

To put it simply, work clothes equal productivity in your head. In addition, home clothes equal relaxation and family time.

When you dress up, you tell your brain that it is working time. This also acts as a signal for those at home that you are now in work mode, meaning you are not to be disturbed.

#2: Create and follow a daily schedule (for tomorrow)

When you are working from home, the boundaries between work life and home life can easily blur and you might find yourself overworking.

This is why it is best to stick to your former schedule as much as possible and plan your day accordingly.

This also applies to taking lunch breaks and coffee breaks — don’t skip them. There are break and stretch extensions that you can add to your browser that will remind you when to take a pause. They have helped me tremendously, mentally and physically!

At the end of the day, get up and walk away from your workstation and avoid using the space till the next morning.

#3: Use both text and video communication. Every day!

We communicate a lot through our facial expressions and body language, which is all lost when you only ever speak with clients or colleagues via email/Slack/text.

When you set up a communication protocol, make sure you combine text updates and video conferences, or you can start feel lost or distracted and get out of sync with your team.

#4: Keep distractions at bay

At home, you are on your own and it is up to you to actually be productive. This is where certain apps and systems can come in handy.

Social media is one of the biggest distractions, but there are both Android and iOS apps that help you avoid social media or restrict the amount of time you can spend on social media.

#5: Spend time on lead generation/collaboration

The economy has fallen, but it is not going to be down forever. Make sure you’re ready to take advantage when clients do have cash to spend again. Begin by sending cold emails, and be sure to verify the email address before you start writing your pitch.

You can also focus on pitching your existing clients a bigger package or retainer. Try a ready-to-use proposal format that has been proven to be effective.

I would suggest looking at bulking your efforts with media and email campaigns. If you send a thousand emails, at least one will convert.

#6: Power naps are your best friend

Now that you are working from home, there really is no shame in taking a power nap when you need it.

Don’t feel guilty about it. Remember that a power nap can boost your energy levels and make you more productive. (As long as you fulfill your everyday checklist!)

NASA has conducted research that pointed out that these “power naps” could improve memory and cognitive functions, among other things.

Breathing exercises can help you sleep at times when you have too much going on to focus on sleeping.

#7: Stay hydrated and keep munchies around

The idea is to not have to think about food or water during the day. The moment you feel hungry or thirsty, you can reach out for the bottle of water or snacks, satiate your needs, and get straight back to work. No distractions!

Avoid sugary and greasy foods, as they will make you feel lethargic.

#8: Ensure that your workspace and documents are organized

A tidy workspace will ensure that you have a clear and focused mind. And when you are in need of something, you'll know where to find it immediately.

Arrange everything neatly at the end of your workday so that when you return to work the next morning, you have a neat and clean workspace ready to greet you.

#9: Physical activity. Yes! It exists.

Get your daily dose of exercises at a time convenient to you. You do not need equipment and a large space to churn those calories into energy.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has helped me a lot. Especially after sitting on a chair and working long hours, your back and glutes do tend to get sore.

Following a system like the Pomodoro Technique, where you work for 25 minutes using a timer and then take a 5-minute break, can help you boost productivity by ensuring your mind does not get too stressed out.

I make sure to move around and stretch during these breaks.

#10: Engage in team-building activities (outside of work)

Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an epidemic of loneliness and depression taking over the world.

As social beings, it is difficult to be confined. How much is social media going to fill the void, anyway?

Take time to connect with your colleagues. Be there for them even for 10 minutes a day instead of getting lost in your own world and you will find your own spirits soaring.

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Himaan Chatterji

Himaan Chatterji is a B2B freelance content developer and a full-time digital nomad working with SaaS brands around the world to create a web of interconnected long-form actionable resources.