I hope you are all doing as well as you can, during this difficult time.
I know that a lot of you have now found yourselves having to work from home due to the lockdown that has been enforced, and you may be finding it hard to adjust to if this isn’t something you’ve had to do before. I’ve been working from home for about 5 years now, so I thought I’d share my top tips on what I do to help keep myself motivated while working at home, whilst trying to stay sane at the same time!
One thing I would like to add to all this, is that you may find it difficult at first but after a while you do get used to it. You find a new routine, create new habits and then you almost forget what it’s like to work in a big environment. I know when I first started working from home I struggled as I missed the interaction with others, but now it’s the norm for me – although during normal situations I would be out attending meetings too, which I am no longer doing. Anyway, I hope this list helps you, and don’t forget that so many people right now are in the same position as you, so reach out to them – by text, call or Facetime.
Create a work area
This would be my number one tip when working from home. You need to try and separate your work to personal life as much as possible, by creating an area you use just for work. If you have an office then great, if not maybe try and use one end of your kitchen table – somewhere with some good daylight shining through would be best. Make sure you have everything you may need – notebook, pen, a drink to stay hydrated, and make it comfy if you can by adding a cushion to your chair. Once you’ve finished work for the day pack all your work bits away.
Keep to a routine
It’s so easy when you’re working from home to fall into the trap of waking up and sitting in bed for an hour on your phone, get distracted all day and then realise at 5pm you have loads of work to do. So you end up working until 9pm to make up for all the faffing you did in the day. You need to create a routine just like you would have work. Make sure you are up, washed and dressed ready to start your working day at 9am, and you finish at your normal time too.
Exercise in the morning
As most of us are practising social distancing and/or self isolation right now, it’s so important we keep our bodies moving, especially as the gyms have all been shut too. Exercise isn’t just there to help us lose weight or tone up. Whenever you increase your heart rate for a prolonged period you release endorphins like serotonin, which are natural antidepressant chemicals which make you feel good, reduce stress and help with anxiety. I find that doing exercise in the morning before work really lifts my mood and makes me feel ready for the challenges ahead. Going for a walk/ cycle/ run, doing a home work out video or pilates/ yoga, are all things you can do without the need for a gym. I do The Body Coach HIIT classes, Les Mills and Blogilates workouts at home which I love, so check their channels out on YouTube as they are all free.
It’s important to have breaks for both mental and physical reasons. It’s up to you what that involves but make sure you get up and move and aren’t just sitting at your screen surfing the web or binging Tik Tok videos. If you follow me on Insta stories you will probably know that my breaks usually involve cleaning. It means I’m moving and I feel productive while doing it. Cleaning is also a bit of therapy for me, I find I can switch off for a little bit, and it reduces my anxiety. Grab a tea, have a stretch, put some washing on, call a friend whatever you fancy – they don’t have to be for long, but make sure you allow yourself some regular breaks throughout the day to help keep you focussed.
To Do Lists
I’m a lists person – always have been. It keeps me organised and stops me forgetting anything (as I have a shockingly bad memory). I have a work to do list and a personal to do list. However when it comes to my work to do list I have two of them – I have my overall list of everything that needs doing, then on a post-it note I write everything that I must get done that day. Looking at a long list can seem quote daunting so by writing a separate list of things that I have to do that day, is a lot more manageable and makes it seem a lot more achievable.
This ties in with the lists thing really, but I find that setting goals from that list really helps. For example I’ll write down 3 things I have to get done by 11am, and then I’ll schedule in a break of getting a coffee and putting some washing on. Then I’ll set a goal of two more things I need to complete before I stop for lunch at 1pm. I do this throughout the day and I find setting goals with times really helps keep me motivated and on track to achieve.
Keep your phone more than an arm’s length away
This is the thing I find hardest to do, but I have to if I want to stay productive. If you’re anything like me and are constantly on your phone you can’t help but constantly pick it up to look at something. You need your phone close enough to you so you can answer it when it rings, but far enough away so it means you’re not constantly picking it up. Years ago I also removed all notifications on my phone apart from work emails and whatsapp messages (even then I have a lot of chats muted). If I didn’t my phone would be constantly pinging which would be a huge distraction, so I’d recommend you do the same if you find that you have a lot of notifications. Some phones also have the functionality to stop you looking at apps during set periods which you may also find useful.
Keep in touch
If you have work colleagues it’s important to stay in touch with them and keep the lines of communication open just as you would if you were in the office. So many people forget the importance of speaking to others and not just constantly pining emails to each other. Pick up the phone and talk to them, or even better video call them.
Close the door
If you are trying to work from home while others are still in the house its important to keep the door shut. It blocks out any noise and let’s them know that you aren’t to be disturbed while you’re working – this particularly helps if you have kiddies that want to come in and distract you.
Play music but not TV
Having the TV on is not a good idea. I have friends that tell me they “work from home” with the TV on, but can then tell me everything that happened on This Morning that day.. Mmm… not sure that much working is happening if they can tell me that! haha. The TV is an easy distraction so keep it turned off. If you don’t want silence then play some music in the background.
Keep your workspace tidy
Keeping your workspace tidy helps you stay focussed. At home you don’t have a cleaner to tidy up after you, or a boss that nags you to keep your desk clean, so you have to take responsibility to do it yourself. I always say a messy space crates a messy mind, so do your best to clean up your cups/ plates and paperwork each day.
Stay safe and look after each other.