While working from home may sound like the dream, there’s also the constant temptation to work out of bed instead and swap your laptop for your DVD collection, well, just after you finish those random chores.
Judging by the amount of laptop warriors spotted around town, many Beijingers do decide to live the freelance or work-from-home lifestyle. From past experience dabbling in such a work environment, I’ve compiled six tips to help you stay on track when working out of the gaze of superiors.
1. Clear Your Desk
This is the most important one. If you don’t have a desk at home, get one. As much as you’d like to convince yourself that it’s possible, you won’t be doing your best work in your bed or on the sofa. If you do have a desk, clean it. Get cracking on tidying, and put anything away that is obscuring the surface and distracting your flow. Once you’ve got cleaning out of the way you’ll also have no reason not to work at your assignments.
2. A Planner, Stationary, and a Routine
We sure do love to plan, and if you’re spending more time than is healthy watching bullet journaling videos on the Internet then this is the way to go. All you have to do is make sure that it doesn’t turn into a procrastination tool. For stationary that won’t break the bank, head over to Muji.
A set routine planned out will also help you get your tasks done, with set times for breaks. Write it down if necessary so you can increase your productivity during set work times planned in beforehand.
It’s also important to face the day with the mindset that you could be interrupted by your “boss” at any moment. That means it’s best to continue a routine of showering and getting dressed even if you don’t intend to leave the house. This will help you stay focused and teach your mind that it’s time for work.
3. Make Sure Your Flatmates Understand
Make sure those you’re living with are aware that you’re working from home, and not just hanging out. You’ll have to set some boundaries if you are doing work that isn’t compatible with interruption, and make sure that you’re given the time to work quietly and left alone.
4. Invest in Plants, Flowers, and Decorations
Spruce up your workspace (and get yourself some extra oxygen in the process) with some natural greenery. That little bit of extra color will boost your creativity levels, and help decorate your desk without over cluttering. Investing in beautiful surroundings is important as you’ll be spending most of your time here.
Not sure about where to get plants? Apart from the random streetside carts you just have to happen upon, there are always Ikea and the Ladies Market, and other decoration bits and bobs can be found at Zara Home and Habitat, too.
5. Get Some Tunes Going
Music is a great way to boost your morale and lift your spirits, making sure you get those deadlines out of the way. While Spotify isn’t really a thing in China, we like to use Baidu play. That being said, don’t choose music with lyrics or tunes that are especially noisy. There are a growing number of great infinite-loop YouTube channels that’ll help you on your way. Our favorites include lofi hip-hop radio, classical long-players, or straight-up “study music.”
6. Don’t be Afraid to Change Environments
Yes, this article is about working from home but what good is working from anywhere if you get bored or stuck in an unproductive routine? That’s why you owe it to yourself to get out of the house and post up somewhere new so as to not encounter mental fatigue. Interacting with other people will keep you active and reduce your chances of getting depressed when holed up inside but as with the precautions mentioned above, choose somewhere that is clean, quiet, and conducive to concentration.
Some of our favorite Beijing work spots during the day for the fact that they’re quiet and spacious are Lily’s American Diner, Great Leap Brewery #12, Cafe Groove, and Maan Coffee around Sanlitun; Zarah (pictured above), Cafe Alba, Daily Routine, and Waiting for Godot around Gulou; the National Library, Sculpting Time, and Bridge Cafe around Wudoakou; and High Altitude in the north.