The coronavirus pandemic has thrown most of our work lives off kilter, forcing us to adapt to working from home. At first, the prospect might have seemed promising – working from your bed, pyjamas on, and snacks galore. But after a few days, the shine may begin to wear off a little. That’s why we’ve compiled these tips to help you work from home effectively.
As the days pass in self-isolation, distractions seem more and more viable. Midway through a spreadsheet, you may find yourself wondering when last you actually dusted the bookshelves? But with these simple tips, you’ll be working from home like a seasoned pro. The key is structure.
Keep your morning routine
Being able to work from home shouldn’t entail late sleep-ins and coffees at that little neighbourhood coffee shop you just haven’t been able to get to until now. If you start sluggish, it’s really difficult to increase your momentum later in the day. Don’t give into the temptation – you’ll thank yourself later.
Wake up as you usually would. Keep your sleep schedule regular and try your best to keep to business as usual. If anything, not sitting in traffic may allow you to catch an extra hour of rest in the evenings, so take it easy then. But it’s important to start your mornings with a work mindset.
Get up, start the coffee machine, and tell yourself that it is actually a work day. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a dazed weekend mindset.
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Shower and get dressed
Yes, really. It may seem self-explanatory, but washing the sleep off will help you wake up and leave you feeling energised. And while no one is suggesting you get kitted up in your best power suit just to sit at your dining room table, it’s important that you don’t stay in pyjamas.
Put your comfy clothes on (hello, leggings) and freshen up before jumping straight into work. When you’re working from home, it’s always good to retain some kind of division between work time and home time – working in your pjs will leave you all groggy and overly-homely.
Designate a work space
And no, it can’t be your bed. By allocating yourself a workspace, you can step away in the evenings and leave work where it belongs – just as you would do at the office.
Blurring your comfortable home space with the drag of office work may leave you feeling frustrated. That’s because you won’t be able to ‘switch off’. If your couch is also your desk, when you finally take time to unwind, you’ll feel the lingering pressure of work. You may even find yourself fighting the urge to check one last email – but resist.
Set office hours
Just because your home is now your office space, it doesn’t mean you should work every waking minute of the day. It’s about striking a balance between work time and home time.
Make sure you’re dressed and ready to start work when you usually would. Then at the time you usually leave the office, close your laptop and go make a cup of coffee. It’s easy to get caught up and over-work. It’s crucial that you look after your own mental health during this time. Because yes, it is possible to reach burnout from home, contrary to popular belief.
Take a lunch break
Halfway through your work day, get up to stretch your legs and have some lunch. To keep your habits healthy, it might be helpful for you to pack work lunch as you usually would. If you don’t pack yourself lunch and prepare adequately, the urge to pop down to the grocery store for a pie may become irresistible.
Now more than ever, your physical health is important. Eat a balanced lunch and drink plenty of water. Don’t compromise your health just because your environment has changed. The entire point of social-distancing is to keep you healthy, so commit and keep it up.
It’s easy to get so focused on work that you won’t move for hours and hours. Remember that in your normal office environment, you do move – you’re fetching photocopies, checking in with colleagues, and walking up and down stairs to the reception or the bathroom.
When you break for lunch, do some stretches or walk around the block. This stretching will keep you from getting stiff and may help your headspace, especially if you’re feeling frustrated. If working from home just doesn’t seem to be for you, take regular short breaks and try working with the help of a productivity app.
Use technology to connect
As far as you can, use technology to connect to your colleagues. Self-isolation can be an alienating time. And needless to say, emails and texts aren’t really that comforting. If possible, phone your colleagues or arrange Zoom sessions. That small bit of human contact can go a long way and we’d be silly to underestimate it.
Also check in with your work bestie – they might need the chat as much as you do. This type of communication can also eliminate the risk of miscommunication (after all, nuances can be lost over text).
When you work from home, it’s important to maintain your routine as far as possible. The basics are: communicate openly, work set hours, be prepared, move around, and eat lunch.
By Features Writer Ashton Kirsten