Working from Home Tips
Updated: May 6
As working from home seems to have become 'the norm', I thought you might find it useful if I share my top tips on working from home.
To give you some background, I was doing home-based work prior to all the COVID chaos, for the best part of two years. Lockdown certainly bought it's own challenges, I agree. With the kids being at home and occasionally my husband (not entirely sure who was more distracting, my 2 kids or him, to be honest) but we worked through it and succeeded in balancing a productive work and home-schooling day! For most this wasn't easy, in fact you may have found yourself rocking in the corner of the kitchen, rummaging for the last of the chocolate haul, clutching that expensive bottle of gin you swore would be for special occasions only (I was very nearly this person in the early days of 2021, on discovering how unwilling my 8 year old was to work independently) What you have to remember is it's a huge adjustment for you. It takes time to set new routines. It takes motivation and discipline.
There is no magic wand or set formula to make you a productive homeworker. Implementing the following tips has helped me to achieve just that.
HAVE A SET START AND FINISH TIME
As tempting as it is to have that lie in and work that extra hour in the evening...DON'T! By setting out your working day from start to finish, you will know when you need to be in work mode. Taking that extra hour in bed. Catching up on the latest episode of your favourite series. This ultimately only makes it more difficult to get into your work. In the same respect, trying to make-up the time at the end of the day eats into your 'you' time, the time you need to unwind and relax or to go on that daily walk if you haven't already done so. It's a slippery slope, trust me. By just allowing yourself to do that extra 30 mins because the kids aren't home yet, or starting early because the kids got dropped off earlier than usual, chances are you are probably not being the most productive 'you'. Just get up and walk away at the end of your day. Set the times you are going to work and stick to it.
Taking a break seems like an obvious one but it is actually something I still struggle with myself. If you were sat in an office all day with your colleagues, you would likely take an hour for lunch or have a tea break at some point, so schedule this into your day. Schedule a lunch break for a set time. Tell Alexa (other Smart speakers are available) to set an alarm at the time you would take a break in the office. To stay productive you need to eat healthily, we all know that don't we!
DON'T GET DISTRACTED BY HOUSEHOLD JOBS
The pile of washing up from last night can wait. So can the ever growing mound of laundry! It may only be a quick 2 minute chore, but it will take you at least 20 minutes to get back into the swing of working again! Just think...would you load the washing machine if you were in the office? Probably not! Just saying!
Tell people at home of your schedule. In fact tell your family and friends that might be tempted to Face-time you during the day. Ask them to avoid disturbing you if possible during your set working hours. My 8 year old now understands that during the hours of X&Y mummy is not free to watch that Youtube video of kids opening toys??? Or to help her decide what clothes to buy her Roblox character.
Getting dressed for the work day helps you achieve a positive working mindset. As tempting as working in your pj's all day is... Your mind & body won't feel awake. You'll be less productive because of it. I'm not saying get 'suited and booted' for a day at the office! But brush your hair, put on something comfy. If you have planned video calls during the working day choose something a little on the smarter side. (BTW Slippers are still appropriate footwear in this scenario).
GO FOR A WALK
This is my favourite tip. My number 1! I like to go for a quick 5 minute walk around the block as my commute to work (come rain, shine or even snow this week) This seems to get me into the correct frame of mind for working. When the kids are FINALLY back at school I like to use this quiet time to turn off mummy mode and engage work mode. I seem to close the door behind me on 'home' me and open it again as 'work' me!
MAKE A PLAN /TIME BLOCK YOUR DAY.
This one I found particularly useful with fitting in home-schooling. I would set the first 3 hours of my day to sit next to my daughter and help her with her school work (we all know they are completely unable to work by themselves, even though they would at school ). Plan your day, or week even. Time block out sections of your day for certain tasks. Don't forget to EAT THE FROG ...this means get the task you're dreading most done and out of the way first! Equally don't compare yourself to what you perceive others WFH are doing either. They are finding what works best for them, just as you are. This is also great if you are struggling with overwhelm. (Watch this space for a day planner coming soon)
HAVE A DEDICATED WORK SPACE
Whether this is the kitchen table or a luxurious home office (So going to get me one of those when we eventually sell the flat!) Create a space just for work. In our house the dining table is our new 'school' and my desk is set up next to it so I can still help if needed.
ENJOY THE BENEFITS YOU GET FROM WORKING FROM HOME!
No one says working from home is a jail sentence and you shouldn't treat it as such. We have enough of that in our lives as it is, thanks to COVID. Enjoy the little things that you probably wouldn't get away with in the office, such as belting out your favourite tune at the top of your lungs when it comes on the radio (for me I've been revisiting the Greatest Showman Soundtrack ....shhh that's between you and me, and probably my neighbours!) Or buy one of those stupidly large 'Enter' buttons to smash if you're having a particularly rubbish day. Or why not even listen to that Podcast while you send those emails?
So there you have it! My 'TOP TIPS' for surviving working from home. These are by no means the be all and end all. What works for me may not work for you, and that's OK. Some people prefer the radio on, others don't. Some people like to work later in the day, others are in the 5am club (me personally! I'll never be in the 5am club!) Find out what works for you. It's all trial and error at the end of the day.