Working from home really became a must in the year 2020. The Covid-19 virus spread led many goverments to proceed to lockdowns all over the world! This phenomenon forced many companies to implement remote work as a result. Many designers though didn’t face this form of work for the first time. A high percentage of designers have experienced this situation more than a few times in the past due to the nature of work. On the other hand, other designers happened to face this for the first time.
To be honest, working from home is really amazing and has a lot of advantages to help you make the most of your work. A true benefit on it’s own! You have to be careful though, cause I promise you that you will be challenged in this!
It might be your pet calling for attention, a short break that can escalate to a nap before you realize it, spending too much time on social media, lack of focus due to continuous chats with your roomate or partner… There are honestly many excuses to get distracted and lose focus. So in this article i will try to suggest you some tips that will not only keep you productive but will also give some growth to your work!
1. INVEST ON EQUIPMENT
Let’s begin by some basic stuff! Investing in a high end PC and other hardware will really do the difference between you and a designer who is just using a regular mediocre computer/laptop. I suggest you invest on a desktop instead of a laptop though, due to better performance and also the benefit of regularly upgrading it whenever some brand new technology demands this. A high end CPU and graphics card are the first components you want to give your attention to. A second monitor also plays an important role to your work. Preferably an ultrawide monitor so you can make multitasking easier with a large work-area where you can run multiple programs and pages simultaneously. Also, you can invest on an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system to protect your devices and make sure you never lose unsaved projects by undesired electricity shut-downs, etc. Or you can invest on a pen tablet or a regular tablet accompanied with a stylus so you can work quicker and accurate on your illustrations and mimic hand motion and pressure applied to your software’s drawing tools.
2. GET COMFORTABLE
It’s a common fact that designers spend a lot of hours a day sitting on a chair. Unfortunately this is something that can not be changed at all. So we owe ourselves to make this time more pleasant and take care of our ergonomics! An uncomfortable chair and a boring room could really consume you more energy that you can imagine. The first thing on your list should be a comfortable chair. It might be an office chair or a gaming chair. It doesn’t really matter as soon as it fits your body’s needs such as your spine posture. Make sure you try it before you buy it. You can always match it with a new desk that provides you enough space for all your assets!
This next tip is something that most people don’t even know or they just ignore it. Something like a secret! I am talking about your walls, your lightning lamps and the color management inside your room. Try to use colors and paint types that block any reflection on your monitor. Some of my picks are: classic cream, icy white, pale gray and misty blue. Pick something eye friendly for the wall behind your monitor. Avoid plain white no matter what and also avoid black or really dark colors, they might make the colors of your screen pop but the high contrast with your screen will definitely mess your eyes. I would suggest a gray tone for this wall and a darker one on the opposite of your monitor. There are also light absorbing paints, textures and substances. Be careful though! You have to color manage your room in addition with your lightning systems, but that’s something easier to be changed.
Lastly, just decorate the room with beautiful and inspiring stuff.
3. BUILD YOUR NETWORK
Building a powerful and stable network is what brings the clients and collaborations to your door. How to do that?… Start by creating accounts on social media (such as Behance, Artstation, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, etc) and start linking them to each other. Also link them to your website if you have one. It’s really important to showcase your work effortlesly!
Then, make sure you find people with the same targets as you and people that trust your services. You will not only get closer to your own targets and your preferable design fields, but there are people who can also give you good referals and attract cooperative business oportunities which you can’t just assume on your own. Always remember, if you want to grow you have to make others grow too. And that’s what you’ll get in return. Imagine your business circle as a piece of land, where if you sow prosperity you will reap success!
4. APPRECIATE THAT EXTRA TIME
Now that you are finally working from home there’s no longer a need to waste time on getting ready and dressing properly for the office, or wasting time on means of transportation and traffic. Neither to go to work nor to get back home! You will notice that on average you will get 2 extra free hours inside your day…Don’t get them untapped! Take advantage on the time you gain from cutting off these activities and invest it in your work.
One thing you can do is to build your portfolio or just make some updates and improve it. You can rarely do this if you are working a 9 to 5 job which is far from your home.
Another thing you can do is to learn extra stuff and improve your skills and knowledge. You can either read books, study new techniques or a couple of softwares, watch online tutorials (probably on Udemy, Lynda or YouTube), or you can apply for some remote education school and get commited to this. These extra hours per day can be really useful if you manage your time right!
5. DO NOT OVERDO IT
You have to know that, working from home has some traps, and here is one you can easily step into before you even realize it! It is called exhaustion! And it can develop either physically, mentally or both…
Every human has his limits and stress mechanism breakdowns! Once you start noticing headaches, dizziness, clouding of consciousness, back, neck or hand muscle pains, tiredness, generalized anxiety or mood swings for no reason, then you have some serious signs that you are overdoing it is about time that you should set some boundaries immediately! Start by setting your working hours…Shut down everything when the work is over. Shut down your computer and laptop, stop paying attention to your phone and stop receiving client calls when it’s not an emergency, stay away from TV… In conclusion, dont spend any more time on electrical devices and monitor screens. You have to know that harming your eyes can lead to many nervous system disorders, as your eyes are directly connected to your brain and your brain is the centre of your nervous system. Make sure to step out of your house as often as you can. Staying inside for too much is one cause of depressing emotions. So, step outside, do some activities that fuel your mind and emotions and don’t forget to sleep right.
If all my previous words didn’t convince you not to overdo it then you should remember why you chose this job! I think it was for the beauty of it, the joy, the happiness and all these great emotions that each one of us recieves by being a designer…So, don’t be a slave of it, because you will no longer enjoy it! Oh, and cutting overtime from your work doesn’t mean that you will be constantly multitasking while you work! You will get in the same trap. Studies too, have proved that focusing on one thing at a time makes you more productive.
Working from home has a main disadvantage though. The lack of communication with your colleagues and clients. When you work in the office it’s easy to walk over and ask for clarifications, extra information or just a second opinion from another designer of the creative studio, plan a schedule, have office meetings and other stuff that cannot happen when you work from home.
Fortunately there are softares and websites that can do the job and help you keep in track with colleagues, communicate with clients, share documents, ideas and help you plan team tasks. Some which you might like are: Slack, Chanty, (Microsoft) Teams, RocketChat, Flock and many others. Most of these softwares will let you organize different threads, send direct messages, make (video) calls, build polls, set reminders and upload files. Of couse there are also other softwares which are more specialized and focused on your communication needs . For example, you can hold conferences or even webinars on Zoom, Skype and ClickMeeting. You can set and follow tasks on Todoist, Accelo and Asana. Oh, and let’s dont forget Teamviewer, which is a remote manager software that provides you access to other computers and vice-versa, letting you help others with multiple projects and allow ITs fix tech stuff on your PC when you can’t handle them yourself.
By any means necessary, avoid using social media apps like messenger or instagram for this job cause they are really limited on providing you the communication you need for this case and also distract you from your job.
7. MAKE A GENERALIZED PLAN
This last tip is actually related to all the previous tips mentioned. A daily plan and and long-term plan will help you maintain discipline and reach your goals quicker. A notebook or a personal agenda is perfect for planning your daily routine. You can use it to set work hours, track your most productive hours per day, make notes for your needs, etc. You can also write down some hours which are dedicated for e-learning, building your portfolio or promoting yourself on social media platforms (by making posts, follow accounts and applying for jobs). You can also write down your break hours so you can let yout colleagues know when you are unavailable and also plan other activities such as workouts, cooking, meditation, seeing friends and family, etc.
After 2 months of applying an agenda-based plan you shall notice new habits being developed, understanding which hours of the day work better for you, start noticing new job and lifestyle necessities, gaining more free time and building a stronger self-discipline. Being able to set such small targets as a daily schedule to carry out will get you in the right mindset for achieving bigger goals and build self-confindence to start setting new long-term targets. Plus, once in a while you can run back a few pages and have your own insights of your progress or habits within the last months or weeks.
These 7 tips were the most important for working from home. Working from home is a matter of charchter sometimes. For some people might suit perfectly, while for some others won’t. Therefore I would suggest every designer to try it once in a few years. It needs much more discipline that you can imagine to stay productive and also trying to set time limits and stick on a plan. The good part is that you are almost your own boss! In general, you will notice many advantages and disavanages in this process. Just check if it works for you… My tips are here just to fasten the progress of yours and help you avoid some common mistakes that I made when I first started and I am sure you will notice how accurate these tips are by applying them. Also, the timing is perfect for this post as we are living in times that remote work is neccesary in multiple countries due to the COVID-19 spread. I would like to thank you for your time reading this article and I promise you that there will be more following helpful articles for designers in the near future! So, if you are pleased with this kind of blog posts, hit me up on social media and ask or suggest design topics that you are interested in!