Working From Home Tips
COVID-19 has certainly changed how many businesses are operating. Hearing of countless employees now finding themselves either working from home permantently or on rotating rosters between home and the office. This is a new experience for a lot of people. Since I have been working from home for about 15 years I’d like to offer you some essential tips for working effectively from home.
- Establish a routine Get up each day at the same time you normally would if you were going to your regular workplace.
- Get out of your pyjamas Prepare and get dressed for work as you normally would. This helps you get in the right headspace for work, and keeps apathy at bay.
- Set up a designated workspace Your job is more important now than it has ever been, so create a place at home where you can be productive and focused.
- Use your morning commute time productively You don’t have to drive to work, so instead go for a walk or run, listen to a podcast or map out your day and write an action list for the things you want to achieve.
- Look after your mental health This is especially important during this time so think of ways to look after yourself mentally. Take breaks, incorporate some exercise, or try a meditation app on your phone. The Headspace app has a range of meditations, including some good guidance on breathing exercises, which can help to settle thoughts and create a sense of calm. This app is great if you’re new to meditation (or think it’s not for you). You can even try it while you’re running or walking—however you decide to use it, it will be good for you. And if you find you’re really struggling, reach out for help—many counselling and psychology services are moving their appointments online, so you can still access support if you need it.
- Communicate clearly with your family Make sure your family is aware of your work times and work area in the house. This may not be perfect at first, so expect some interruptions initially. But communicating your needs and setting some guidelines will help you to be more productive, and your family will gradually adapt to the new routine. Remember, this is an adjustment for everyone.
- Take control of social media use While checking Facebook and Instagram might be fun. It can also be very distracting. While you’re working, make your social media accounts hard to access – take them off your phone, remove shortcuts from your desktop, block notifications or just log out during work hours.
- Have a lunch break Make sure you step away from your desk and take a really clear break from work at lunchtime. Eat something nourishing, go for another walk, or do some harder exercise—something that will raise your heart rate and help clear your mind. The same goes for morning and afternoon tea breaks—make sure you have them! Meal Planning for working from home
- Plan for tomorrow At the end of each day, plan and write up your actions for the following day. This helps create and maintain clarity of purpose, saves time the following morning, and enables you to really switch off from work the when you finish for the day.
- Prepare meals the evening before Have your lunch, snacks and even dinner ready in advance. This helps you to stay on point, instead of wasting precious time preparing meals during the day. Remember, your goal is to keep your work days as normal as possible.
- Establish start and finish times Make sure you start and finish on time each day. This helps you to create structure and to plan other activities for your day.
- Reclaim your commute time Now that you don’t have to sit in traffic twice a day, use the time you would normally spend commuting to do something enjoyable. Go for a walk, run or bike ride straight after work. This will help establish an important transition period between work, home and family.
- Take up training opportunities Online training is readily available at the moment. A lot of business, coaches and other education providers are offering free courses. Developing your skills and knowledge with extra training builds your capabilities. Also assists with confidence, and can strengthen your value now, as well as open new opportunities in the future.
- Set housework boundaries Ah yes…anyone who works from home will tell you how easy it is to get distracted by those ‘critical’ housework tasks. And now, with two partners potentially at home, the expectations around division of domestic labour may need some adjustment. If you are easily distracted by housework, then try adding it to your day’s tasks. Set yourself a work action that allows you to do one housework task a day (or however many you feel is reasonable). Or, use a housework task to time your work activities—for example, if your washing machine takes 1.5 hours to do its thing, then that’s how long you have to do a specific work task before you take a break. And, if domestic work is a potential bone of contention in your house, have a conversation now about how you and your partner plan to share the load between you while one or both of you is working from home.
- Adapt! Find a rhythm and routine that works for you. Yep, that’s right—you can take advantage of your new work situation to develop a routine that suits you. So, if starting work at 5 am and finishing at 1 pm floats your boat, then go for it. If it works for your employer and it works for you, you can structure your day however you want. That’s one of the great things about home-based work! Be gentle and kind with yourself and others Working from home can be challenging. It can be easy to get distracted and easy for others to interrupt the flow of your work. After all, home is normally a place for family, social time, relaxation, movies…and adjusting to it also being a place of work can take some time. Accept that you might not always be as productive as you’d like to be, while at other times you’ll be more productive that you thought possible! I know when I first started working from home, I couldn’t believe how much more I achieved in half the time it would have taken in my old workplace. The key is to do the best you can under the circumstances, and be gentle with yourself and your family.
- Ride the wave of temptation It’s very likely that you will have habits and routines at home that are not compatible with working from home (e.g. repeatedly checking the fridge for snacks, hanging out just one more basket of washing, or playing with your kids/dogs/favourite time-wasting hobby…). As you observe these, note them down. Try to ride the wave of temptation for that habit or routine while you’re working. When you can’t resist any longer, then just do whatever it is that’s distracting you. Treat it as a break, set a time limit on it, and then when it’s done, get back to work.
Working from home can be hard, but it can also be great. If you can support yourself with good habits and the right kind of structure, you might find that it’s a surprisingly productive and rewarding time of your life.
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