The internet is going to be flooded with articles of this nature right now. And while I’d actively encourage many of us to stop clicking so many links right now, if you can find pieces that provide some practical or comforting advice then it’s a good way to use your web time. We are all unique beings, with individual habits, patterns and tendencies so not all the tips you read might be applicable to your own situation/personality. But I hope it’ll kick start a stream of thought that will lead you to finding some effective solutions and tips if you’ve found yourself abruptly having to change how and where you work.
Get to Know yourself…..
If you’ve worked form home for a while you’ll know your patterns, habits, temptations. For instance, I know I tend to need a nap at 3ish, I work better working 11 till 7 than 9 till 5 (although with my job you’re always working to some degree if you have your phone nearby) and I often find myself regaulrly grabbing for biscuits.
If you’re new to all this, be patient. Give yourself some time to work out the unique formula that works for you, and try not to get frustrated if you don’t find the sweet spot straight away.
The Lost commute
Some of you may find yourself with some extra time due to not having to travel to work anymore. Here you have a choices to make.
If you’re someone that struggles with energy you might relish the opportunity to have more of a lie in than you’re normally afforded.
If you usually use that time on to listen to a podcast, read a book, watch a show, you might want to maintain that, but doing it from home instead before starting your working day.
Maybe you’ve always used that time to prepare for the day ahead ( write notes for meetings, reply to emails you didn’t get round to yesterday), so you may want to do that unless your new home work routine means that you suddenly finding time to ensure you’re already all caught up by the end of the working day.
For many the walk/cycle/run to work is the only form of exercise you get and you know it’s integral to your general wellbeing. So you might want to start your day with a YouTube yoga routine (or whatever sort of exercise you prefer). It’s get the body feeling vital and buzzy and prepares you for a productive day. It’s also really important if your living situation means you don’t have an office space to work from and your laptop-ing from the sofa. You can get pretty stiff and sore being stagnant on the sofa all day (I’ve gotten pressure sores before). Some regular stretches and a walk around the home during the day wouldn’t go amiss.
Get Dressed for Success
Whenever you say you work from home the first people joke about is the fact you can skype in your pants. I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have said ‘I’m so jealous that you can work in your PJ’s.’ But while there are numerous days I work from home cuddled by my curry stained dressing gown, I now know that I do tend to get more done (and to a better standard) when I get dressed. The other day I put on a full face of make up and it definitely helped me get out of a slump I’d been in work wise – I guess because it’s more inline with what I would be like if I was to head in to a work environment. Also as a blogger if I’m dressed and my make up is on I am ready to take photos for content for blog posts etc. When I’m in my top knot, spot cream on my face mode I tend to feel less than up for some sultry posing. I do recommend wearing comfortable clothes though. One day of wearing jeans that are tight on the knee pit or trying desperately to give you an UTI you know that soft jersey or joggers are the best option for your lower half.
We all know our weaknesses/strengths. I don’t know which this falls into but I know that if I have easy access I can demolish a whole packet of biscuits before you can say ‘digestive’. I know I’m a serial snacker so I’ve started to make sure I always have tangerines in so I can at least make one or two of my cravings of the healthy variety. Diet/health is a personal thing but you might find yourself needing to take certain measure now that you have constant access to your food cupboards.
We often search for snacks when we’re bored so it might be a case of keeping yourself busy or entertained -maybe take up juggling or increase another fun hobby involving your hands (wink wink). We also tend to confuse hunger with dehydration, so get a glass of water first and see if that deters the craving for a bit.
Many of you will take a packed lunch to work, eat out or utilise your company canteen. Now you’re working from home you may want to continue eating the usual content of you packed lunch, or your might be mourning access to your work local Pret, for example. Some of you might relish being able to cook a lunch at home and may use the lengthy preparation and cooking as one of your scheduled breaks, but some of you will be like me. I don’t get pleasure from cooking really, and for me the quicker and faff-free the better, particularly during work hours. I often do a pasta bake that’s big enough to have three servings from. You may not want to eat the same thing everyday. You could also cook a big curry that will provide a few lunch time servings and an option to alternate. I’ve also mastered the leftover indian takeaway toastie, and it’s like changing FYI . You can always make a repeat meal more interesting by adding a new element. Perhaps on Wednesday you put a garlic bread in the oven to have with your pasta. Perhaps you’ll put the chilli on a jacket potato instead of rice one day.
If working from home has been forced upon you during this time, take some time to formulate how you’ll make this work in terms of creating electronic communities amongst your colleagues. It might be that you all need to join Zoom for conference calls. You might want to start some Whatsapp groups or shared Google Drive accounts. You should also set some rules from the off too. At an office many of you will have work computer networks which normally mean work stops when you leave the office. With this change you might suddenly be able to work all the time, so make sure there is a shared understanding that there will still an end to the working day.
Pets at Home
It can be a lovely perk that you suddenly get to spend your working day with your beloved pet, but it could certainly impact your productivity if they’re of the needy or high maintenance variety. My cat is currently in heat so unless I’m either massaging her back, which she has raised in porn star ready to receive position, or playing with her favourite feathery toy, I have to deal with blood curdling screaming (she’s signalling to all the local cat lothsarios that she’s ready to fast forward to date number 3). You might need to accept that you’ll have to take your dog for a lengthy play in the garden or have a good fuss session with the cat to allow yourself some freedom to work without pestering or noise for the rest of the day. Of course we know there are calming benefits of pets too, so do allow yourself some time to stroke your favourite furry friend, it may be invaluable during these intense times.
Change is unsettling
For many of us all the change can wreak havoc with our anxiety. All the news is unsettling for all, but if you’ve found routine something that helps to stabilise your tendency to catastophise, the enforced change these times have caused are horrifically overwhelming and discombobulating. You need to make an effort to do all you can to centre yourself and find rationale if you are finding yourself overworking the disastrous scenarios. Perhaps you may want o introduce or up your meditations. Have a few more relaxing baths. Perhaps you might want to check in with your sensible and calm friend more often. Maybe you’ll want to book in some online therapy with Better Help. I get some relief from writing things down, hence this blog post, so all this might provide benefits too…you might find yourself more creative as a result. A small but worth mentioning silver lining.
Get in the Zone
This can be harder if you live in a more compact space, or in a home you share with multiple people, but it can be very helpful to create dedicated areas in your home/work environment. If you have an office try your best to use that rather than slumping on the sofa in the lounge (this is a prime example of not taking my own advice). You don’t want to taint your sanctuaries and areas of chill with memories of work and stress so try to keep them separate if possible.
Some of us will find ourselves in new territories… in that our territories will suddenly be challenged. You might have gone from a time of being the only person in the building working from home, to suddenly having to share the space you used to rule over during work hours. I predict this is going to put a huge tension of many relationships, so it’s sensible to safeguard yourselves as much as possible from the beginning. They are recommending you try and allocate rooms so you can be apart for as much of the working day as possible. Again, if you have a small abode this could be tricky – I’m guess you both might want the room with the big flat screen TV in it. It might sound extreme, but to keep the peace you might need to devise a rota. Find that virgo in the household that will relish the opportunity to create something regimented, and put them to task!
You could seek inspiration from the Crystal Maze and create some division through lazers if you want to up the fun/danger element .
If you have a garden than you can seek this from then take some breaks out there. Perhaps take your cuppa out there and soak up some vitamins D for 15 minutes. If there’s a walk round the block that is quiet enough that you won’t encounter too many people then get the heart rate up a tad and take some deep breaths. Failing that, open some windows. Small flats can get stuffy which can enhance that feeling of enclosure and claustrophobia, so let that good cleansing air in.
Give Yourself a Break
How you divide your day will be a personal thing depending on your patterns of productivity and the type of work you do. But just because someone isn’t enforcing your breaks doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any. Schedule in breaks that allow you to watch an episode of a show perhaps. Perhaps long enough to listen to your hypnotherapy recording. You might prefer lots of small ones to make a drink and really savour every bite of those biscuit (pastries, crisps, cake). Perhaps you’ll take a break to have a non work communication with another work from home’r.
Sip, Sip, Sip
An evergreen tip here. But drink water often. I saw some advice saying trying to drink every 15 minutes if possible. I’m terrible at drinking water and I know we are concerned about using up our loo roll right now, but it’ll make your mind sharper and aid your general health which is important right now. If you drink from a smallish glass it’ll force you to get up and stretch your legs too.
One of the trickiest things I’ve found from being a work from home freelancer is that people forget that your work hours are still your work hours. There will be expectations of you which you won’t necessarily want to, or be happy to fulfill. Due to working from home I’m expected to do the bulk of our couple life admins task – the chores, arranging tradesmen, errands, shopping. I also get a lot of invites to do social stuff during the day, which of course I sometimes do, but it’s not always convenient – it still cuts into my potential to earn money. You need to take a stance early on so you don’t set yourself up for awkward conversations later on. You’ll also need to establish boundaries with your boss/colleagues too. Remind them that work will still stop at a certain hour for example.
I’ve had to be proactive for as long as I can remember but for those used to busy work environment it might be a very difficult transition to suddenly only have yourself to rely on for motivation. Creative people might realise they struggle without having that person on the next desk to bounce ideas off, or without that inspiring view out of their window. The easily distracted might realise they actually needed that authoritative eye gazing over them during the working day to ensure they stay on target. Without the buzz of a noisy office others might find boredom setting in and their mind drifting. Whatever you particular challenge, there IS a solution. You might need to schedule a regular check-in with someone in a similar position, become each others cheerleaders and sparring partners essentially. Or you might need to get your super efficient/naggy friend to put your arse in gear every so often. It might be a simple case of working what environment makes you more productive. For me, having a no brainer show int he background helps me. For others have Classic FM is a soothing soundtrack to work to. You might need to adopt a sales approach and set yourself daily targets which will encourage drive and momentum.
To follow on fro my no denim clause, think about all those little things that contribute to general daily comfort. A seat that encourages good posture. Curate the temperature of the home to suit. Wear fluffy socks or your fave slippers. Get your hair out of your face. If aromatherapy oils/ candles help maintain your calm then use those. Give your eyes breaks from screen time so they don’t get sore and dry. If you are a chronic warrior take your meds, use that heat pad, have an epsom salt bath, use that magnesium muscle spray. You might find working from home it means you can access all the means to comfort more easily than normal… make the most of that.
Stop scrolling. I know that I’ve found myself obsessively scrolling in light of Corona and it’s not doing me any good in terms of anxiety and stress levels. While it’s important we stay abreast of the latest updates and advice, we don’t need to relentlessly consume the opinions of friends and strangers – many of which will have bias, inaccuracies or just escalate our existing worries. I suggest we try to limit ourself to one news catch up a day (I know it’s bloody hard). I know it’s harder if you work involves being online, but you don’t need to engage and scroll as much as you currently are, do you??