Working from Home Tips
With the new normal slowly taking shape in different industries, working from home has become a preferred option for some. But for those still thinking of making that transition, I'd like to share my top tips on working from home.
I was doing home-based work before all the COVID chaos for the best part of two years to give you some background. Lockdown indeed bought its 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. We succeeded in balancing a productive work and home-schooling day! For most, this wasn't easy. You may have found yourself rocking in the corner of the kitchen or perhaps rummaging for the last of the chocolate haul last Halloween. You could have also found yourself clutching that expensive bottle of gin you swore would be for special occasions only. (I was very nearly this person in 2020, 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. However, 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 challenging 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 go on that daily walk if you haven't already done so. It's a slippery slope, trust me.
If you're thinking of allowing yourself that extra 30 minutes because the kids aren't home yet, or you're starting early because the kids got dropped off earlier than usual, don't. Chances are, you are probably not being productive at all.
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 in an office setting, you'd likely take an hour for lunch or have a tea break at some point with your colleagues. It's essential, so make sure to schedule this into your day.
Schedule a lunch break for a set time. Tell Alexa (other Smart speakers are available) to set the alarm for when you take a break in the office. Of course, 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 about 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. For example, 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 workday helps you achieve a positive working mindset. As tempting as working in your pj's all day is, it's a nonproductive trap where your mind & body won't feel awake. You'll be less productive because of it. I'm not saying you 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 smart-casual 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. Then, when the kids are FINALLY back at school, I like to use this quiet time to turn off mummy mode and engage in 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 entirely unable to work by themselves, even though they do at school ). Plan your day or week even. Time block out sections of your day for specific tasks. Don't forget to EAT THE FROG - this means to get the job you're dreading most done and out of the way first! Equally, don't compare yourself to what you perceive others WFH are doing. 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 - well, maybe later than soon but it'll be here so, watch out!)
HAVE A DEDICATED WORK SPACE
Whether this is the kitchen table or a luxurious home office (I will get one of those at one point in my career!) Create a space just for work. The dining table is our new 'school' in our house, 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. So enjoy the little things you probably wouldn't get away from within the office. For example, belt out your favourite tune at the top of your lungs when it plays on the radio. (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 5 am club (Personally, I'll never be in the 5 am club!) Find out what works for you. It's all trial and error at the end of the day.