Home working? These tips will help to keep your working hours productive and your not-meant-to-be-working hours protected.
1. Dress the part
Tempting as it is to stay in your PJs all day (or at least until lunchtime) try to stick to your normal routine. Get up at your usual time, get showered and get yourself dressed as though you were heading to the office, to help switch your brain into work mode.
2. Create a workspace
If you don’t already have one, decide on a designated space for work – ideally not somewhere you use to also relax. Conference calls from your sofa might be more comfortable (especially the longer ones!) but keep that space for your own time if you can. Avoid firing off a few ‘quick emails’ from bed too. If you don’t have a desk, try to at least use a table and chair that are at the right height (remember that occupational health training!) and create a designated workspace with everything you need set up there.
3. Tidy up
Wherever your workspace is, keep it tidy – and the space around it too. Working in a messy environment isn’t great for your concentration, so try to create the sort of space that allows your thoughts to flow freely. Staring at a toppling pile of dishes isn’t going to help when you’re trying to focus.
4. Let the light in
Natural light has been proven to boost productivity so if you can, work from the lightest room in your house. Open the curtains or blinds fully to let in as much light in as possible: this will make a huge difference to your mood. If you don’t have much or any natural light available, use as many lights and lamps as possible to create a sense of daytime, and consider investing in a daylight bulb.
5. Take a break
It’s easy to get entirely absorbed in work without others around to remind you to come up for air! Make sure you take a break and if you can, explore the Pomodoro method of working: 25 minutes on, 5 minutes off. Stepping outside for a few minutes throughout the day is also a good way to refresh the mind. Sit on the balcony or patio with a cup of tea, or take a stroll down the garden.
6. It’s good to talk
If you’re part of a team, check in regularly with each other throughout the day – tools such as Skype and Zoom make it easy to stay connected. Don’t just send messages or emails – pick up the phone or video call and talk to another human. If you work alone, look for opportunities to talk with clients or customers to retain contact with the outside world.
7. Eat well
It’s tempting to snack more when you’re working from home – especially if your new workspace is near the fridge! If you do get the munchies, opt for healthy snacks where you can, and have proper food at your regular times. If you are using the dining table to double up as your desk, stop work 15 minutes before eating to severe the work ties with the table.
8. Ease up
With everything that’s happening in the world right now, we all need to look after our mental health – and be kind to ourselves. Give yourself the chance to enjoy working from home. Relax your day a bit. If you want to grab an hour of telly or a talk, do it.
9. Improve yourself
Take advantage of the lack of commute and pointless meetings to do something for you. Learn, exercise, stretch, meditate, practice, etc. Have some fun with it. Do some press-ups, sit-ups or stretches between work sessions; take 15 minutes out to breathe and stare at the ceiling; download Duolingo and teach yourself a new language for 20 minutes a day.
10. Family fun
Following school closures, many people will now be juggling work with having children at home. For parents of older children this might be less of a challenge (though a challenge nonetheless) – for parents of younger children, it may feel almost impossible. And in some cases, it will be. Tag-team childcare with a partner if you can – but remember, you can only do your best. if you haven’t already, speak to your boss about your own circumstances, and be clear about what you might need in terms of flexibility or different arrangements.
We have some uncertain times ahead of us so if you are now working from home, remember to look after your health and wellbeing.
Keep as much of your routine as possible, stay in contact with the outside world, separate work from play both mentally and physically, and be kind to yourself.