I have some top tips for working from home. Since I made the decision in 2018 to change my career, I have been working from home in an environment where my partner is a childminder, where there are constant distractions from not only my own children but other peoples too. The adaptation took a little while but a few little things put me in good stead for a fun and productive switch to the working from home lifestyle.
With the sad realisation of the COVID19 pandemic in late December 19, countless workers were for the first time forced to continue their job from home. Not only that, but during this period the schools were shut, creating an almost impossible scenario of not only working from home for the first time, but also having your children there with you too.
My tips are purely from my own personal experience and some may obviously not apply to you however even if one of these helps you out then that will make me happy.
1. Don’t Lay In
2. Get Dressed
3. Make a Workspace
4. Eat Healthy
5. Enjoy Good Music
6. Use a Social Media Blocking App
7. Make Mini Goals
9. See Your Family
10. Take A Lunch Break
Don’t Lay In
My number one golden rule. Sadly this is all too easy to do when working from home and when you are used to getting up at a certain time for work, your body clock can really do you over if you grab extra hours in bed. Sleeping is beneficial for everything from mental health to your physical health. If you are tired then try grabbing some extra sleep by going to bed earlier.
This has to go in my top 3 of necessities. You are working from home now and don’t see anyone, maybe apart from family members, so surely there is no point in getting dressed? Just laze around in your lounge clothes or PJ’s all day! I would advise against doing this sadly. I don’t mean you have to get dressed into your uniform if you usually wear one, but at least throw on some jeans, do your hair and get ready for the day as usual. This will help put you into a work mode and hopefully help with productivity.
Make A Workspace
This was one of the hardest things to do for me as being in London, space in houses is somewhat limited. With my wife also being a childminder meant that lots or space downstairs was taken up. I am strongly advocating using anywhere other than the bedroom. Being in the bedroom and associating that sleeping space with work is never a good idea. Find somewhere to set up permanently in the house so that all your essentials are kept together. Buy a little intray from IKEA in order to keep your things organised whilst there. Sadly too it’s best that some health and safety advice travels home with you too. Ideally grab a decent chair and make sure that you are suitably positioned with your laptop. Spending hours and hours slouched on your sofa with a laptop is going to be very detrimental to your neck back and shoulders after a while. This often ends up in causing headaches and fatigue. There’s a reason that employers must meet certain requirements when you are at your desk. If a proper chair isn’t a feasible option then maybe look at a support cushion just to help with posture.
When at home you will be eating all day, any little slight hunger you feel you will hit the fridge and raid the cupboards just, well…… because. I found the worst thing to do was to grab biscuits and chocolate bars when feeling peckish. I would immediately pick up and then in no time at all I would crash and my concentration would take a hit. I found nuts, fruit, smoothies or even rice cakes with peanut butter hit the spot. Nuts and mixed fruits are awesome because you can just have a pot next to you that you can quickly scoff as you work. You will likely find your tea or coffee intake will increase whilst at home too, as you won’t have eyes following you to the kitchen everytime expecting you to make a brew for them too. Try not to increase your caffeine consumption as again this can have a negative effect on concentration so try and substitute a kitchen visit with a glass of water or milk.
Enjoy Good Music
One of the best motivators for me is music and it can be amazing for stimulation, relaxation productivity depending on the music being played at the time. Different genres of music can have different effects on your brain whilst trying to work so choose a playlist accordingly and have it playing in the background. Usually though if you are working at home with others in the house, blaring Carmina Burana or Celine Dion from your computer probably isn’t the best idea. To help the mentality of everyone else in the house who would be forced to listen to it too, it’s a good idea to get a pair of headphones or earphones that you can plug in. As you are “work” for many hours I advise a pair like the Cupid that are exceptionally comfortable and offer an awesome sound. I found that earphones and headphones that offered noise cancelling didn’t always work very well at home and I was still able to hear a lot going on. I think many noise cancelling earphones are designed to be used in really noisey environments like on trains and airplanes and they only cancel certain frequencies. Sadly with the noise of happily playing kids it was still a distraction for me. Pairing the Cupid with an expanding memory foam eartip such as the symbio knocked out just enough noise to not be a disraction. Also you always wanna hear when someone is shouting at you to see if you want a cuppa.
Use a Social Media Blocking App
It’s tempting isn’t it? your phone goes off and you just have a quick look at what it was, its more tempting now you’re at home and no one can see you keep looking at Facebook to see what the notification was. Not to mentioning opening TikTok and then aimlessly scrolling for hours on end watching strangers post their videos. Sadly, for me it was a massive distraction and I had to do something. Luckily there are a few apps out there that can help you abstain. There is one called Offtime which enables you to block a number of different distractions from social media to text messages and offers a few different options. If, however you really are adamant that you will be looking at notifications then there are stricter apps for you such as Flipd. Flipd unlike many other restriction apps really does lock you out. Once you are locked out, even a phone restart won’t get you access to your chosen apps.
Make Mini Goals
This one is quite a brief one, but for me it made the day a bit easier to manage. Mine was literally to celebrate me completing a task. Get your head down and focus on the task ahead and complete it in full. It could be something small like answering 30 emails, i’ll then go and grab a cup of tea. Do an hour of SEO and then go and spend some time with my family. These little mini goals across the day kept me motivated when there was a lack of enouragement offered up by colleagues etc.
This is pretty self explanatory and can be a real advantage to working from home. I use exercise as a partial reset throughout the day. The beauty that, theoretically, you can just get up at any time and do some exercise is great. With all the bodies chemical benefits when having done exercise, it is great to help improve concentration and for energy release. Even simply taking a fast walk around the block will really help. Before Covid19 I used to enjoy a walk 2 to 3 times a day. Maybe you have an exercise bike at home or you can do some yoga.
See Your Family (Not Parenting Advice)
I tried not to use that two letter word…..”No”. From the moment I began working from home and had my 2 year old daughter around, I made a consorted effort to not use the word no. I would suggest to her that I would play with her once I had finished a task. Sadly at that age giving her a timeframe wouldn’t have worked. Sometimes I asked her to do a task whilst I was working and said that I would be with her once she had finished. This gave me some dedicated time to work whilst my daughter also needed my attention. I only had the 1 child at home requiring my attention and can imagine that the juggle would be even greater the more children there are at home whilst you are trying to work. Once you are able to be with your kids give them your undivided attention. Pour your all into them, as you will get back what you put in (I learnt this very quickly as a parent). By giving my daughter the full attention she required, I found she understood a little better when she could see I was working.