18th May 2020 | By Guy Clapperton

Our newsletter editor Guy Clapperton – who has been a worker from home since going freelance in 1993 – offers some insight into how to survive the stay-indoors regime.

The first piece of advice he normally gives new home workers is not to stay at home the whole time. Have meetings, see people, stay sociable and at the moment you might as well come out with a cliché about teaching pigs to fly.

We are stuck indoors.

So the first thing to do is to plan your routine. Doing things reactively and “kind of as they crop up” isn’t actually the answer to anything. But starting off with some exercise and preferably getting out of doors where possible, maybe scheduling when you deal with email and other correspondence, will all introduce some structure into your day. I prefer to keep weekends as weekends; others may feel differently but it helps to make a decision rather than drift into a habit.

You’ll see loads of advice on getting the right chair and not working at the kitchen table. Right now we’re not in a position to go and check any alternative furniture and anyway, buying a new desk set-up for what will hopefully be a few weeks only is unlikely to be sustainable. It’s going to be a case of common sense in my view; if you catch yourself looking down at a laptop too often you’ll get a stiff neck so look up from time to time, or better still get an external keyboard and mouse and put the laptop on some books. Your eyes should be level with the top of the screen, which will also help you with video conferencing.

Next, stay in touch with people. Steve Bustin has put together a weekly meeting for members and it’s terrific. Attending virtual book group meetings and other gatherings can be fun – they just take a little getting used to!

One final point: dig deep and think about times you might have delivered your service over the phone or over video conference. If you’ve done so, it can be worth contacting the client again and seeing whether they’ll give you a testimonial. Ask them to say when they used you as a virtual speaker or workshop runner/trainer. We see many people online saying they are “pivoting” to the online world; a testimonial saying you’re used to delivering in this way and have been doing so for a while will be much more reassuring for your prospects!

Good luck and stay safe – and remember this isn’t forever!

Guy Clapperton

Editor, Backstage

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