THE APPEAL OF WORKING FROM HOME
While my role is predominantly office based, I am actually out of the office quite a lot either at external meetings in London and Brighton pre-dominantly or working from home. I absolutely love working from home – quite simply because I can work at my own pace and focus on key tasks. It also allows me to switch up my hours a bit by being able to start earlier and finish earlier. Without the dreaded morning commute as well.. life is bliss.
COVID-19 AND WORKING FROM HOME
The global pandemic for many has forced businesses to rethink their way of working and shift their employees to working from home. For many WFH is a dream come true and while there are a lot of benefits to working from home – including chilling in your pyjamas while having meetings, reduced commuting cost and the ability to put your washing on when you feel like it… there are some downsides in the form of distractions.
I do think it’s important to remember that what is going on now is not the norm – while some or many of us many have the opportunity to work from home from time to time, we do then also have the freedom to go out when we choose. Right now, to some extent everything that is normal has been taken away from us.
So that means that there are two things that you need to contend with now you’re working from home – isolation (something that can feel very alien to many) and distractions.
So, here are 10 simple tips to help make working from home as easy and productive as possible:
- Stick to a schedule: Working 9-5 hours makes sense, it’s something that we’re all used to and allows us to mirror our previously established routine. If your co-workers are also working those hours then you can easily co-ordinate with them.
Having scheduled hours means you can plan your time and ensure that you manage and regulate your work rather than just letting it run away with you.
While you can work in to your daily schedule, putting on the laundry or going out for your weekly shopping trip – it’s your responsibility to get the work done and having a schedule to stick to will help that.
Start your day at a similar time everyday. While no one is telling you to start at 9am sharp – mirroring your previous structure will help maintain some normality.
- Make time for yourself before and after work: I know that we’ve all done this – rolled out of bed, brushed our teeth and turned on the laptop while rushing to make a cup of coffee in time for your first meeting (Teams/Zoom call). While it may feel like a good idea to stay in bed until the last second, it’s actually more productive to get up at least 1-2 hours before your work day starts and make time for you. I have a very simple routine:
– Wake up, make my bed and brush my teeth
– Go for a run/workout
– Get ready (while I am not wearing make up, I do my daily facial skin care routine)
– Meditate for 10-20 minutes
– Make a coffee and sit down for breakfast
– While eating my breakfast, I stay off my phone and I sit quietly on my own with the intention every morning to journal my thoughts. Making sure that I focus on three things: 1) what am I grateful for today 2) what do I want to achieve during the day and finally 3) a reflection on the day before.
All together this takes me about 2 hours but it means that I am set up and ready for the day – I’ve started slowly, mindfully but also putting my own well-being at the start.
While I like to do all of this at the beginning of the day, some of it you might want to do after work – or you might have a completely different routine after work. For example, reading a book after you close your laptop for 30 mins to reset your mind.
- Don’t stay in your pyjamas all day: While it seems like a great idea to stay in your tracksuit or pyjamas all day and maybe showering every couple of days… it’s going to make you feel lazy and lethargic after a while. I find that actually showering and changing my clothes out of my nightwear makes me feel ready to take on the day. You’ll also be ready to have an unexpected video call too!
- Focus and don’t watch TV: being at home, doesn’t mean watching TV while you work. If you put on a movie, you’re more likely to focus on that rather than your work forcing you to have to work longer hours.
- Create a productive atmosphere: listening to music is a great example of this. I personally listen to instrumental music rather than music with lyrics because I find it distracts me.
2CHELLOS and The Piano Guys are personal recommendations of mine as they cover a range of modern and classical music.
Classical music is great for concentration as well. I am a big fan of Ludovico Einaudi.
Light candles as well to create a cozy and comfortable atmosphere. Something that makes you feel good is really important here.
I strongly recommend a clean and tidy workspace though – being surrounded by clutter will clutter your mind as you try and work.
- Find a quiet space: if you’re in a house with lots of people demanding lots of your time and you need to focus on something important then you either need to get up super early to get that piece of work done or you need to find a quiet space in your home. If you can’t do that then put your headphones in and block people out. Set boundaries with the people you’re at home with so that they know that ‘headphones’ means you’re concentrating and can’t be disturbed unless it’s urgent.
Every time you get distracted it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to settle back into what you were doing before and being productive again. Limiting distractions when you’re doing a difficult task is therefore really important.
- Track your time: it’s easy for time to run away with you when you’re at home. Think about how long you are spending procrastinating and think about how much time that takes away from you being productive. By recognising what triggers you to procrastinate, you’ll find that you’ll become more efficient and have more time to do the things you enjoy.
- Switch up your environment: one of the perks of being at home means that you don’t have to be glued to your work desk. Personally, I find that I do some of my best work when I have a change of scenery. While my head office is based in Peterborough, my regular travel to London means that I am required to be agile and adapt to my working space. I’ve found that I’ve done some of my best thinking while I’ve been in a new working space.
There is nothing wrong with working from the sofa, the kitchen, the dining room or even your bed (I wouldn’t suggest you do that often as I think your bed is a sacred space).
- Think about what you’re eating: it’s so easy to snack on everything while you’re working from home but try not to do this. Have set meal times if you can and make those meals as nutritious as they can be. Eat those meals away from your workspace as well. I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE WORK AT THEIR DESK. Everyone needs a break from their computer screen. Stick to this general rule: eat breakfast, snack if you’re actually hungry at 11.30, eat lunch at home 1pm and snack again at 3pm if you’re hungry. Don’t overeat and make sure you drink plenty of water. Don’t just live on tea and coffee.
- Take a break: Just like you’re supposed to take a break from your screen every 50 minutes when you are at work, the rule still applies when you are working from home. Do a few stretches, put the dishes in the dishwasher, make a call to a loved one or step outside for some fresh air. Regular breaks are really important. Someone recommended https://tomato-timer.com/ to me and I absolutely LOVE IT.
- BONUS TIP: Think about how you use your mobile phone. Don’t mindlessly scroll through your phone when you should be working because no one can see you. It’s distracting and it’s not actually professional. If you have a work phone – then use that during your working hours and use your personal phone during your lunch and snack breaks.
I really hope that by implementing just a few of these tips, you’ll have a calm and productive working day.
What are your tips for working at home?