Working from home: tips from those who have done it for years


  • Living
  • Thursday, 19 Mar 2020

Working at home requires discipline and good time management.

For Khairul Syamsuddin, 34, a computer programmer, working from home is like second nature. When he was in university, he freelanced helping to develop software. Then, while he was working for an IT company several years ago, he also freelanced part time to earn an extra income. So, when his company wound down, it was only natural that he decide to freelance permanently. Khairul has been freelancing from home for six years now and has some tips for those who, with the movement control order, now have to work from home.

Be disciplined

Working at home requires discipline and good time management.

The line between work and personal life can get more fluid when working from home: you might be distracted by the television, the refrigerator, the bed... and so, it requires discipline to focus on the work at hand.

Set deadlines for yourself

Setting yourself reasonable deadlines makes it easier to complete your tasks.Distraction can be a devil and more than once I've found myself falling down the rabbit hole for hours on Netflix and YouTube, and one needs to beware of that, said Wong.Distraction can be a devil and more than once I've found myself falling down the rabbit hole for hours on Netflix and YouTube, and one needs to beware of that, said Wong.

Dress the part

It helps if you shower, shave and get dressed and set aside a particular spot to work from at home.

Connect digitally

Even though you don't have your colleagues next to you, it's the digital age so it's easy to just chat with friends through Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. You can even video call relatives.

Part of a virtual community

Alexandra Wong, 45, an author and writer, says that working at home can be a "double-edged sword": while there is unlimited flexibility and comfort, there are also distractions. On the positive end, it has enabled her to have a healthier lifestyle.

"I can schedule in some time for a morning jog in the neighbourhood park without worrying about beating the traffic blues, and I also cook my own lunch when I'm not out on an appointment," she said.

"But distraction can be a devil and more than once I've found myself falling down the rabbit hole for hours on Netflix and YouTube, and one needs to beware of that," she added.

Have a calendar

Wong uses modern technology but old-fashioned methods: she relies on her Google calendar in which she lists even the most mundane task that is related to her work. This, she says, helps her make sure everything gets done each day.

(She also mirrors the information in a traditional 'pen and paper' notebook,"just in case the hard disk crashes or something")

Say hello, virtually

Wong says that working from home mus not and and should not mean total isolation. Make an effort to socialise virtually in this time of social distancing.

"There are many online communities on Facebook and LinkedIn groups that are helpful and educational, which you can join to interact and learn new things, or even get ideas. It doesn't always have to be a work-related group," she says.

One of the things someone working from home must be able to do is multi-task.One of the things someone working from home must be able to do is multi-task.

Be prepared for the unexpected

Amy Lim, 49, was a freelance graphic designer for 20 years.

Lim, who is a mother of three teenagers, first started freelancing so that she could spend more time with her children.

Time management was a challenge.

"Working from home as a mother of three kids with flexi-hours seems ideal. But I ended up spending my days meeting clients, being chauffeur and tuition teacher to my kids, and the only time available to finally do the work was late at night after the kids were in bed," she explained.

Learn to work independently

One of the things someone working from home must be able to do is multi-task. I need to do everything by myself because I don't have staff.

Be organised

Distractions are a problem with most people who work from home so you need to be organised.

Keep track of deadlines. Set aside a room or workspace where you can focus on your work.

Work ahead of time

Always be prepared for the unexpected and work ahead of time because if something crops up - if your computer breaks down, for example, you will not have back up.

Leverage on technology

With access to the Internet, you won't really run out of ideas or resources. Surf the Internet to do your research and be on social media, even special interest groups on whatsapp can sometimes be a source of motivation or inspiration and spark ideas.

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