I have been working from home full time for the whole year, so social distancing wasn’t as much of a shock to me as it was to others. And I’m also incredibly lucky to be able to work from home in a time when so many people are working so hard to keep society running (thank you so much to all the wonderful healthcare workers and grocery store workers out there!). But as we move into a time of deep uncertainty and anxiety, and as some of you begin to work from home I thought I would write a quick blog post with the things I would recommend when working from home so you avoid going crazy.
Stick to a routine
One of best parts about working from home is that you can get up later than you would if you were going to the office. Enjoy your lie in but I’d recommend getting into a new routine and waking up at the same time every day and doing something before work to get you into the mindset and seperate ‘work time’ and ‘home time’. I like to get up, have some tea and make myself a breakfast and have some semblance of a morning routine before I get into ‘work mode’ which I usually allot for between 6:30 and 9am to get ready for the day. This could be working out or meditating or it could be vegging out with a cup of tea and Netflix, it’s whatever gives you the space to get ready for the day.
Have a space
For me, it’s my study nook, but I am also aware that not everyone has a spare space they can make into a home office. But make sure you can claim some area in your house as a temporary workspace, if it’s a desk, that’s amazing, but it could even be a spot on the kitchen bench. My desk has everything I need to do my job, including stationary, water and some pretty decor (not necessary but still recommended). But the main thing is that you associate it with work, and you’re able to sit properly without hurting yourself and have a space you can use when you’re in ‘work mode’.
Give yourself breaks
It can be easy to just sit at your desk and work without getting up and moving, when I first started I would look up and realise I had been working for 10 hours straight. If you’d usually wander over to the work coffee machine at 11am, give yourself a little break at home then too. Make a cup of tea, have a dance around the living room (which I like to do), and rest your eyes for a few minutes. It’s also great to get some fresh air in some capacity, I like going for a solo walk round the park, but it’s whatever is available to you. Although many of us are practicing social-distancing, if you are able to (and it’s safe to), go outside for a breath of fresh air at least once a day.
Don’t work from your bed
I repeat, do not work from your bed. It might seem like a great idea in theory but it’s terrible for your posture and mindset in general because your brain gets confused about what is sleep time and what is work time. It’s also much harder to focus when you’re working from your bed. It also taints your bed, because instead of being a place you feel calm and relaxed, it becomes a place where you think more about emails. It’s also a nightmare for your spine, and with everything going on in the world right now, the last thing you need is a sore back.
I saw articles that say you should put on shoes but I don’t go that far, mainly because I think it’s a bit weird to wear shoes in your house. what I mean is that you should wear a bra and pants, or at least not your dressing gown which was my biggest problem for the first couple of weeks of working from home. By making yourself look presentable, it helps your mindset and your skype meetings. Sometimes ‘presentable’ is clean PJ’s, it really just depends on the day.
Have a reset
Having a way to reset when you’re working from home has really helped me to focus and get back on track. I used to really struggle but now if I’m really having a day where I can’t focus, I usually have a shower. The shower resets my mind and makes me feel fresh and ready for the day. I don’t know what it does but it works for me. For you this could be putting on your nice pair of tracksuit pants or a cup of tea. I think it’s important to have some space away from work because it can be hard to have to do everything in the same space.
Set boundaries with those you live with
If you live with other people, you should set some ground rules for WFH, and It’s important to communicate when you’re ‘at work’ or on a call. My boyfriend is really good about being quiet when I’m on a call but I can see how it would be a source of tension. My kitten has wonderful timing though, and can tell when I’m on an important call and that is the time she will need to tell me something very important! It’s so cute I can’t be angry.
Set up some fail safes to make sure you’re productive
When I first started working from home I would feel like I was under pressure to make sure I was being productive, but it’s much harder at home. I have a couple of ways I try and keep myself on track. I like to physically write out my to do list for the day and make is really specific. It could be ‘write email to client about X’ instead of saying ‘reply to emails’ which could take hours. It gives you a little action plan for your day and makes sure you tackle the priorities instead of doing housework (me).
Sometimes I really struggle to get the things I need to do around my house out of my head, so I try and measure out time to actually do those things, usually when I’m trying to think through a work problem, I will put a load of laundry on or something. It also helps me to break up my day.
Check in on your mental health
Working from home can be lonely, so I am so grateful that I have a kitten to keep me company at home, but it’s still a bit lonely. I am pretty introverted, but it can still be a challenge to be self motivated and have to sort through problems by yourself. I leave the radio on during the day so I can have some background noise, or even have a mid morning dance break if I feel like it because one of the advantages of not being in the office is that no one complains about my music choices. Podcasts are also really helpful (when you’re not writing) because it helps with loneliness, I have written a bit about my favourite podcasts here
Enjoy the perks of working from home
In the stress of the time, it can be hard to remember the wonderful things about working from home. I can make my coffee whenever I want, I don’t have to wear shoes and I set my own schedule. And I can light my candles and be in my own space. WFH has some amazing upsides and can be pretty fun.
I also want to acknowledge that I am incredibly privileged to be able to work from home, and other people are unable to do so, and are working hard to make sure society stays running. I appreciate you so much and thank you for all your hard work.
Any tips of your own to share? Have you just started working from home? Let me know in the comments