10 Tips and Tools For Working From Home During a Pandemic

With COVID-19 sending the world into chaos it is more important than ever to be able to adapt and move with the times. So many businesses are being forced to close, require their staff to work from home or in some cases people are losing their jobs. Scary!

The only constant in life is change and with that guarantee, we may as well roll with it rather than against it. I understand change is difficult for many people to deal with, but when you are forced into changing whether it be from a life-threatening virus or changing career, always look at what you CAN do, not at what a disaster everything is and feels like. There is a way for finding a new ‘normal’, but it requires time, thinking a little differently and figuring out what works best for you.

The biggest thing in our lifetime is happening right now so I’m going to share with you some ways you can make life a little easier on yourself when working from home that has helped me…

1. Stay calm

Feel all the feelings and don’t beat yourself up. These are the strangest times we have been in and everyone needs to deal with it in their own way to get through. Just try not to let yourself stay in a negative state for too long. Apparently, when Beyonce is struggling she gives herself 24hrs to feel all the emotions she needs to feel, so tomorrow she can start moving forward again in a more positive way. It certainly isn’t easy and our emotions will keep popping up and hitting you when you least expect it (they certainly are for me) but when I try and embody the Queen that is Beyonce I feel stronger and more capable than I did previously. I go to my special music playlist to get me feeling stronger and more pumped up and, Beyonce is about 80% of that playlist. Choose your favourite feel-good tracks and blast them in your headphones and move your body it works wonders.

2. Keep a routine

Get up, shower, dressed, breakfast, lunch, dinner etc just like you would on a normal working day. When I first started working from home this was my downfall. My normal routine went out the window (and wow isn’t it so easy to fall out of routine) and so did my productivity until I was strict with myself and got my routine back on track. I’ve changed it many times over the years and right now have one working for me that I think is the best so far, I’m up at 5am (I go to sleep usually before 10pm) and spend the first 2 hours of the day on me and what I want to do. This way I’ve looked after and taken care of myself before I start my client work. I have recently started taking my daily walk first thing in the morning and the sunrise on some of those days is simply incredible! #sograteful

3. Have a designated work area

Have a specific area where you mainly work from. This will help you get in the zone and everyone else will know when you are in that space you are working. Get creative with your workspace, I recently saw a woman in a Facebook group using her ironing board as a desk as she couldn’t afford to purchase one! As long as you are comfortable whilst working then roll with it.

If you have the choice to change it up then do it, in the morning work at your desk, the afternoon take it to the dining room, if the weather is nice sit outside for an hour or two. If you have the options available to you then use them – take it from me, someone that is a serial desk user, it will boost your productivity even if you just work in another room for an hour. Watch your posture though, our dining room table is quite low compared to the height of the chairs, so I am always sitting much higher than my laptop. At times I find myself getting a little hunched and this makes for very uncomfortable working conditions.

If you are looking for design ideas and inspiration for your office and home then check out Karen at An Ethical Home.

Get familiar with online tools and to make it easier for you, listed below are the tools I use and love each and every day.

 

4. Time Tracking

Toggl

Toggl is an amazing tool that allows you to track your time whilst you work. Track time for a certain project for a client, the time you spend on a course, track time for whatever work you are doing. Reports can be produced for each client, project or team. Oh and did I mention it’s free for up to 5 team members!

5. Video calling

Zoom

Is my go-to app for video calls. I use the free version as I only really talk one to one with my clients. The free version is still available if you have more members in your team however the calls can only last for 40 minutes. The paid plans are great at £11.99 per month for a duration of up to 24hrs.

 

Skype

Skype is free for Skype to Skype calls, chat, and for groups up to 50 people. If you will be making regular calls to landlines and mobiles you will need to purchase credits based on the country you are calling. I pay for Microsoft Office monthly and in that subscription, they give you 60 minutes credit for calls worldwide to landlines or mobiles that renew each month.

 

FaceTime

If you are an Apple user then you will have this feature automatically installed on your device. It’s great for a call with clients and small teams of up to 32 people. To use the group feature each device must be running at least iOS/iPadOS 12.1.4 or newer, and MacOS 10.14.3 or newer. If your device is older then you may be limited to audio-only on these group calls.

 

Microsoft Teams

I’ve recently come across Microsoft Teams which is completely free and you get unlimited chat, video calling, file sharing, storage and much more. This is one I will be using more in the future for sure!

 

I use these apps pretty much every day in my business. Each client is different and so they use different tools for video calling so I adapt to whatever is the easiest method for them. I even sometimes use the video calling on Facebook Messenger.

6. Task management & communication

ClickUp

Out of all these, my absolute favourite is ClickUp. It has everything and more, I’m a little in love with it if I’m honest! The team at ClickUp are incredible and they’re constantly adding new features that do the most amazing things. Each list you create you can have the content displayed in various different ways depending on how you want it to look. It’s like Asana, Trello Slack and Word rolled into one with so many bonuses that would take a whole new blog post! I use the app solely for my own planning of client work and business but I have tested out working with teams and it’s frigging awesome!

I’ve not moved my clients over to ClickUp purely due to the fact they are already loving Trello and when it fits all your needs then why change. I’ve been searching for a task management app that works for me as there was always something missing for me, but I’ve found it in ClickUp.

 

Trello

I haven’t come across one person that doesn’t like Trello, it’s really easy to use and all my clients love it when I introduce them to it. I have created many templates that can be shared and added to all the Team boards which makes it super easy when setting up a new client or project. With the free account, you get unlimited personal boards, unlimited cards, unlimited boards, 10 team boards, and one power-up board.

 

Asana

I used Asana for my task management for many years and it works really well. On the Basic free version, you can have various different views, add assignees, due dates, integrate with other apps and you can collaborate with up to 15 team members.

 

Slack

I’ve worked with a few clients that love to communicate over Slack. It’s a really great tool that eliminates the need to send various emails back and forth with attachments and conversations getting lost within the thread. It’s a really easy way to keep everyone in your team in the loop and it also gives you the chance to speak privately to individual members should you need to. You can also integrate over 2000 apps with Slack!

7. Cloud storage

Google Drive

Within Google Drive, you can open and edit documents within Google’s own platform. Included in your personal Google account you get 15GB of storage on Google Drive for free. If 15GB isn’t enough you can easily upgrade your personal account by purchasing more storage. If you have a Gsuite account you can upgrade your storage here.

 

Dropbox

Dropbox is my go-to cloud storage software. The free basic version gives you 2GB but for £7.99 per month you can have a massive 2TB (2,000GB), there are other paid-for options should you need more than 2TB. Each time you refer a friend you can upgrade your storage by a further 250MB.

8. Rest and move when you need to

Sleep, walk, get outside, exercise. If you’re feeling sluggish or procrastinating then step away from the computer! It’s time to change how you are feeling and one thing that Rachel Hollis always says is “Move your body, change your mind”. I’ve heard Rachel say this 100 times and I still manage to forget it when I’m not really feeling “it”. Listen to your body, if realise you are really just procrastinating then call yourself out on it, get up and move!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1… let’s go!

If you’re looking for some online workout classes then check out Joby at Atomic Personal Training him and his wife Rhiannon are so uplifting and honest with their work, they’re guaranteed to get you fired up!

man lifting heavy weights in a gym
woman lifting kettle bell outside a house
group of people on an online call
lady and man smiling with man's arm over ladies shoulder

9. Speak face to face with an actual human being

This is a BIG one for me. Over the years I have found that my energy really gets hit when I don’t speak to an actual human being in the flesh. I mean, talking on Zoom is great too but my energy gets a boost when I have had an actual conversation with someone in person, even if it’s from across the road or over the fence to a neighbour with a quick “hello” and “how are you?”.

10. Back up your devices

The last thing you need on top of a pandemic is to lose your files on your computer. I use Carbonite on my main laptop that backs up all the documents on the C drive. If anything is to go wrong I can easily download all my files again and nothing is lost but a bit of time.

Dropbox is currently beta testing backups to your Dropbox account which is going to be great as this will save money on upgrading to multiple devices with Carbonite as I have just purchased a second laptop. It will make accessing my computer files much easier across all my devices plus if there is a problem on one of my laptops then I can easily restore the backup from my online storage.

I have spoken to many business owners during lockdown and many are achieving great things as they are pushing themselves more and more to be of service to others during this time. Are you one of them? Let me know in the comments.

Love Jo xx

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