Working from home: top tips to master the art
Published: 23/03/2020With many of us now given no choice but to work from home for the foreseeable future, we’ve put together some timely advice on how to make your new-style working day both productive and enjoyable, without allowing your work life to infringe on your home life.
Tip 1: Maintain a routine
It can be extremely easy to slip into pyjama mode when there’s no need to leave the house, but getting up at your usual time, getting showered and getting dressed as though you were heading to work is an excellent way to set your brain into the correct gear.
Tip 2: Tidy up
Working in a messy environment isn’t great for your concentration, so why not use the time you’re saving on commuting to get your house in order. Create the sort of space that allows your thoughts to flow freely. Out of sight of is out of mind, but if you’re working from home you’ll see everything and it will nag at you constantly.
Tip 3: Lighten up
Open the curtains or blinds to fully to let in as much natural light in as possible: this will make a huge difference to your mood. If you can, work from the lightest room in your home. If that’s not possible, use as many lights and lamps as possible to create a sense of daytime and consider buying a daylight bulb. Alternatively, as the warmer weather fast approaches and the temperature becomes more conducive to being outside, why not set up shop on the patio instead?
Tip 4: Act like a pro
Work from a desk or the dining table, not from the bed or the sofa. It’s important to have a designated space to work from that isn’t a lounging area to ensure your free time at home isn’t spent ‘in the office’. It’s very easy to say “I’ll just send a quick email” from bed, but it can quickly turn into an hour or more of phone time. If you don’t have a desk and you’re using the dining table, add some books or a lamp or a plant while you work to change the scene, and remove them when you’re done for the day so you’re not eating at your desk.
Tip 5: Take a break
Explore the Pomodoro method of working: 25 minutes on, 5 minutes off. Accept that you probably won't in the same way as you do at the office, and that it's fine. 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 wander up and down the garden. If you don’t have any outside space, simply opening a window and sticking your head outside will give you a lift.
Tip 6: Keep in touch
If you are part of a team, support each other with regular check-ins throughout the day, either as a whole group or by buddying up into pairs. Talk. Use Skype, Zoom, etc, or even set up a Whatsapp group to keep some banter flowing. If you work alone, look for opportunities to talk with clients or customers to retain contact with the outside world.
Tip 7: Eat well
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. Avoid snacking by avoiding the temptation to constantly check that the fridge is doing ok - have proper food at your regular times.
Tip 8: Ease up
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.
Tip 9: Improve yourself
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.
Tip 10: Be patient
Working from home is an adjustment. Accept that you won't just slide into working alone at home if you’re not used to it. Everything new takes practice and time, so above all, be kind to yourself.
We have uncertain times ahead of us right now, so the biggest thing is to look after your wellbeing. Keep as much of your routine as possible, and accept that it might take some time to adapt. And don’t forget to retain contact with the outside world to keep your spirits up …this current crisis won’t last forever.