A lot of us are finding ourselves in the position of being based at home. For most of us this is a new experience so just how do you go about conquering working from home? You may have done the odd day here and there, but for the next few weeks at least. So getting a few things right from the beginning, self imposing a few rules and creating a new normal will mean you will quickly get the hang of conquering working from home
There are 3 key areas to focus :
- The right mind-set
- Set yourself up a ‘work like’ area
- Dressing the part
Structuring your day
- Working with your circumstances
- Have a ‘work like’ routine
- Take care of yourself
- Lunch Breaks
Preparation: Step 1 – the right mind-set
It’s the ‘I can do this’ attitude you need to capture.
The most important thing is to get your mindset right. Treat it like a new job. This is a new opportunity and will give you new challenges.
Think about a time you have come up against a similar challenge, that initial feeling of mild trepidation soon turns to a cautious excitement and then usually quite quickly an ‘I can do this’ attitude
Go through your senses.
- What could you hear at the time? Silence, music, kettle bubbling away?
- What could you see? Colleagues smiling, working away, a picture on the wall?
- What could you smell (some of us rely on our smell memory as much as our other senses)?
- What could you taste? It could be that ‘I can do’ mind frame when you were having lunch?
Top Tip: The better you can capture that memory the easier it is to ‘cut and paste’ it into your current situation
If you are a bit sceptical try it with a happy event you can recall. Go through the same process and see how it changes your outlook. You have cut and pasted that memory onto today
Create yourself an ‘I can do it’ memory and Step 1 is complete! You are on your way to conquering working from home!
Preparation : Step 2 – Set yourself up a ‘work like’ area
Ideally this space will be away from the TV and in a room where you won’t get interrupted or people won’t hear the dogs bark if someone knocks at the door!
All of these may not be possible – you may have no choice but to work in the kitchen or front room, just make the space as ‘work like’ as possible
Your space should be big enough to take your laptop, water (don’t forget your brew). If you usually have a picture of your kids, the dogs or your favourite holiday destination try and have that there too (remember you are trying to create a space as ‘work like’ as possible)
Have stationery set up. Pens, paper, notepads
If you don’t have the time on your laptop try and have sight of a clock
If you are using your mobile, are you near to a plug socket just in case your battery goes?
Think about re-charging your laptop, can you do that in this space too?
The chair you use is important. Pick the chair that will be most comfy to sit in for longer periods (however it will be important to regularly get up and move about)
Do you have good light? We are currently in spring so daylight is good, sit as close to natural daylight as your situation allows (a nice view will help your mind-set)
Preparation :Step 3 – Dressing the part
How you dress really can affect how you feel
We all have our ‘comfy’ clothes we tend to put on to slop around the house that we associate with chilling out. It makes sense therefore to create the right ‘working’ mindset that we wear what we normally would for work
Start from the beginning, follow your usual morning routine that you would for work so if that’s to have a shower do the same
Put on your ‘work wear’. If you usually wear a shirt and tie wear one, if it’s a casual top with smart trousers do the same
If you wear makeup, aftershave etc. the same applies. All these little differences will help you differentiate your ‘work time’
Remember, unless you sleep under your desk, we all make a journey to work whether its 30 minutes or two hours and its often the time we are having conversations in our head about things we need to do, people we need to see (or is that just me?!), we listen to our favourite breakfast DJ’s; radio stations; audio books, podcasts etc.
So why not take your ‘journey time’ and use it before you start work – take the dog out, go any buy a newspaper – if the shop is open, sit in the garden with a brew or do some light exercise, meditation etc.
At the end of the day do the same – if you usually change into your ‘comfies’ make sure you do that too and switch to non-work mode
This is all part of tricking yourself into the right mindset
Structuring your day:Step 1 – Work with your circumstances
Let’s face it, we do not all live in a bubble, so if you have family, kids, pets at home who are sharing your space you will need to make plans to fit around them
Look to create a timetable of things to do that works alongside your 30-minute task slots? Crafting, colouring or listening to an audio story book on a set of headphones?
Amazon have lots of free audio books for children of all ages
Mindful Monsters is a resource for children, with a number of activity cards & stickers. Why not plan in a break during your day for some mindfulness together?
Maybe your partner play out with them in the garden, run off some energy?
Can you return the favour if someone else in the household needs quite time at a different time?
Think about scheduling calls for nap time? (I know I know you can’t rely on that but it may be an option!)
The most important thing to do is do what you can, work with your circumstances and talk to your line manager about what is/isn’t possible . Communication with others will be key on the path to conquering working from home
Structuring your day: Step 2 – Have a ‘work like’ routine
Some of the concern we all have about working from home is dealing with the change so the more you can keep your day as similar as possible to routine the better
So plan your day as you would in work
Identify what you want to get from the day and what you can do to make that happen – the work you’re doing from home might be different to what you would normally do if you were in work
Plan meetings (they will now likely be on the phone, Skype, Teams, WhatsApp,) or ‘check-in’ calls with colleagues or your line manager.
Plan your day – try to do this in a time plan
Put jobs /tasks in 30-minute slots
Plan in important stuff first
If you use a ‘to do’ list, when you complete a task highlight it, tick it off, put a big line through it – anything to show yourself you are making progress!
Have an end to your day – review what you have done. Anything not done put on tomorrow’s list. Turn your laptop off and ‘clock out’ for the day
If you are in a separate room shut the door and walk away until your start time tomorrow!
Routine is one way to conquering working from home
Stay healthy: Step 1 – Take care of yourself
Plan in 5 minute and 20 minute breaks
5 minute stretches
Stand up, push your chair back from your desk and get yourself a stretching regime that is right for you
Pay attention to your arms and shoulders and your back – where you can arch your back pushing your belly out, then do the opposite – curve your spine, rolling from the bottom to your shoulders so you curve your spine outwards
Stretch your legs, have a quick walk round the room
Sit back close your eyes and re-focus on your ‘happy moment’ or ‘I can do this moment’
Chair yoga is great for gentle stretching
Stay healthy: Step 1 – Take care of yourself (cont.)
Take 20 minute breaks
Try where you can to get fresh air, go for a walk in the garden, outside or even just take in fresh air through the window!
You may be lucky enough to have an exercise bike or a treadmill – get on there for 10 mins
Listen to a TED Talk – YouTube has a whole variety of videos. Find one that appeals to you, press play and then turn your chair away from the screen so you are sitting with your back to your laptop, and listen
One of the TED Channels with lots to choose from…
One I found particularly funny….
Or watch a short documentary – about animals caught on webcam!
It doesn’t matter what it is, just give your brain and your body a short break and change in posture; anything really to get your endorphins going and to reset your mind
Stay healthy:Step 2 – Lunch breaks matter
Make sure you take it and eat as healthy as possible (where you can eat fruit and veg)
Drink some clear fluids
We all make an effort (or try to!) when we’re at work to drink plenty of water, it helps us to concentrate and stay focused. Now you’re working from home, you need to stay as focused as possible. Water bottles filled up and kept by your workstation, a visual reminder will help you with your water intake
When you work from home the exercise you are not doing just by going to work and walking round the office, to and from meetings, making a brew etc. needs compensating for; so this really is a time to add in those few extra steps, stretches or at least getting the fresh air and the re-hydration you need. Keeping yourself healthy has to be a focus on your journey to conquering working from home at Lifeworks
Remember when you are out, if you see someone especially elderly or vulnerable person stop and talk. Stay 2 meters away and just ask how they are, talk about the weather, pass 5 minutes with them. You may be the only person they speak to.