As a remote-first freelance fundraising consultant whose nearest client is 280 miles away, the thought of remote working hasn’t been added to my list of other concerns for the coming months.
With it becoming increasingly likely we’ll all have to embrace home-working ways I’ve compiled (yes, another) list to get to grips with working solo.
How to Work From Home Like a Winner
Adopt the four-hour rule
Since working for myself I’ve had the freedom to explore my peak work times.
I’ve found I work better on tasks in the morning when my brain and energy is fresh, and I’m at my most creative in the afternoon.
Protect your morning from calls, meetings or other interruptions and get through the work that needs your full attention in the first four hours of your working day.
You’ll be more productive and will be rewarded by working on the “fun things” after lunch.
Admit Dolly Parton Was Wrong
After working for other people for ten years the hardest thing I found about working remotely was breaking free from the 9 to 5.
It meant I was missing out on productive time because I was forcing myself to keep my laptop off during my “downtime” and pushing myself through unproductive moments just because the clock hadn’t ticked to 5pm.
Assuming you have a boss that isn’t going to be demanding photos of you next to the oven clock to prove you’re at home and working, use this remote working time to create a schedule that works for you.
Feeling buzzed at 8am and want to log on and get started? Go ahead.
Want to work longer on Mondays and take Wednesday afternoons off? Crack on!
Remote Doesn’t Mean Staying at Home
Assuming we’re not put on lockdown for a few months, get yourself out of the house and work somewhere near you to combat the isolation.
Getting away from the temptation of the TV, dishwasher, or your bed means you’ll blast through tasks and have a clear boundary between home and work.
As a fundraiser, this can even be an opportunity for you if you wear something branded that might spark up a conversation.
I’ve worked in cafes, airports, theatres and other people’s houses (with their permission, obviously), and now I rent office space near me for when I need a change of scenery.
Communicate More Than Usual
I’ve made the mistake when remote working of trying to protect inboxes and have realised how being away from teams you’re working with needs an impeccable level of communication in a way that sometimes feels like over-communicating.
Right now I’m working with two London-based teams on projects and discovered a combination of these methods make my clients feel informed and included with work and decisions:
- Weekly updates of what’s been worked on and results – including highlights and challenges. Clearly headline your updates and highlight sections where you need a response or input
- Virtual drop-in sessions: I work with Google Hangouts open so they can drop in with a question or extra face to face time if they need it. Kind of like an online water-cooler!
- Weekly calls with each level of the teams involved so I know everyone has been updated with the same information
- Follow up emails from the calls with what we’ve discussed and clear actions for each person
- Quick catch-up sessions mid-week to check progress and catch anything that’s slipping
- Not being rigid to the booked meetings and asking for a chat as and when I need it.
If you’re like me – you can’t sit still when you’re on the phone.
If you have a virtual meeting planned don’t just sit at your desk or move to the sofa and secretly watch Netflix on mute – grab your headphones and get outside.
Go for a walk, sit in the sun or even just grabbing a cup of tea and pacing can help switch things up.
I signed up to Borrow my Doggy and will sometimes take the neighbour’s dog for a walk when I have a long call that doesn’t require a lot of concentration.
Exercise, fresh air, and it definitely doesn’t feel like work!
There are dozens of other articles about remote working digital tools and I can’t stress enough how important it is to embrace these beyond just using your Outlook for letting teams know what you’re up to.
I use Trello for multi-person projects, Google Docs for file sharing for all of my projects, Google Hangouts for calls, Calendly for scheduling meetings and Zoom for delivering remote virtual training and recording podcasts.
Through my other business, Fundraising Everywhere, we host regular virtual socials or problem-solving clinics that anyone can join for free. Check out the listings for the next one.
Bonus tip for hosting remote calls with more than one person: when one person dials in remotely, everybody dials in remotely.
I know pjs are comfy, and yes there may be some days you’re so into your work you don’t shower until lunchtime.
But getting dressed does wonders for your mood and productivity.
Get up and showered straight away as if you would leaving for an office job, but embrace the freedom of not being out in public so much and let that hair go wild and wear something comfy.
Be Kind to Yourself
There are days where I suck at remote working.
The neighbours seem to have a thousand parcels that I have to sign for, the house feels too messy and I can’t concentrate until I’ve cleaned it (thanks, anxiety), or I get massive mam guilt because my son asks me to play and I have to say ‘no’.
Some remote working days are hard.
But the beauty is that you’re freed from the shackles of presenteeism and can take yourself out or away from the bedlam to reset and start again.
Invest in Yourself
Use your commute time to do something to improve your way of working.
Listen to that podcast or read that book you’ve been putting off for ages, learn a new skill, or take an online course.
You can instantly access over 25 hours of fundraising training online via Fundraising Everywhere if you want to start right now.
Use the code CHARITYNIKKI for a discount.
We have a weird few months ahead of us and it’s completely normal to feel a little lost or overwhelmed.
Be kind to yourself, use these tips to make your transition to home working a little easier, and join us online for a virtual social if you feel yourself getting a little too isolated. We’re all in this together.