I have finally started my blog, during the time of the coronavirus. Many people have gone quite suddenly from working in an office environment, surrounded by people, to working from home. I have been working from home for a year so have figured out a few tips in that time which I’d like to share. These are based on my personal experiences and I must stress that it is important to find out what works for you.
1. Get out of bed - or at least separate your work environment from your relaxation environment
It can be so tempting to work in bed - it’s comfy, I get it. The issue here is that there is no longer a distinction between your work environment and your relaxation environment. The physical act of leaving work allows for your brain to switch off. I think it’s important to create a similar feeling, even if like me, you’re stuck in your bedroom. I leave my bed in the morning, go to the sofa or even the floor* to work and look forward to the end of the day when I can get in bed. *I highly recommend working on the floor - it is a lot of fun and feels reminiscent of childhood.
2. Don’t neglect your wardrobe
Again, it can be tempting to stay in your pyjamas, but the physical act of getting ready can shift your mindset into work mode. I don’t necessarily wear formal attire but I make sure I’m choosing clothes that I love and feel good in. I also might put on a bit of makeup.
3. Create routine
In the same way you would get ready to go to work, make sure you continue this practice. Get washed, get dressed, have a nutritious breakfast. The time you save on your commute could now be used for an extra bit of sleep which I highly encourage. However it could also be used to meditate or make a tasty breakfast which requires a bit more effort.
4. Tidy tidy
Before starting the day make sure your work environment is clean and tidy - tidy room, tidy mind. I have found that when I have a tidy room I am much more productive. This is an especially important tip for anyone who is easily distracted.
5. Put that phone away
The biggest issue about working from home is that you have to hold yourself accountable to staying focused. There’s no boss to watch over you so it can be easy to slip into the distractions of texting and social media. I will leave my phone on my bed for a couple of hours, get a load of work done and then have a texting break. I’m not some virtuous angel, I don’t always do this, but it’s a good piece of advice.
6. You’re the boss
Your boss isn’t there. You’re in charge of your own productivity in your new office. Something you might like to try is to think about the kind of boss you’d like to have and emulate that. For me, I’d like a boss who is firm but fair, who gives treats when you’ve worked hard, and who doesn’t make you work tirelessly long hours.
7. Maintain human interaction
The biggest thing I struggled with when making the switch from full time to self-employed was missing out on human interaction. Usually my advice would be go to a coffee shop, seek out connection. Currently this is more important than ever, however we have to be creative. Have lunch while Skyping a friend or calling a family member. Technology is allowing us to not feel too distant. In fact I feel people are in a way becoming more connected. We’re all going through the same crisis and can collectively empathise with each other.
8. Work out your productive hours
This one does depend on how your company and boss works. I have found that I’m super productive first thing in the morning till lunch, then I have a lull in creativity and motivation in the afternoon and then perk up again in the evening. If you notice any patterns it could be an efficient use of time to decide to take your breaks when you know you’re going to be lacking energy. I am also much more productive in the sun but unfortunately live in England, so can't quite help that one; perhaps I should buy a SAD lamp.
9. Don't forget your health - posture, eyesight, hydration, everything
This is something that is so important, yet so neglected. It is not good for you to be sat in one position for a long period of time. Set up an alert to move around and stretch if need be. Also consider your posture as you sit. Is your chair supporting you? If this is going to be your permanent workplace, make sure it's a place that can look after your body. Drink water - add it to your to do list if you forget. Another thing I like to remind people is that your eyes have muscles too which need to be stretched. Take breaks where you look away from the screen.
10. Control the biscuit consumption
Boredom and being at the home where no one is monitoring you could quickly lead to some slippery slopes whereby you make your way through hundreds of packets of biscuits. The best advice I can give here is to have them out of reach, in another room. Have a good breakfast, lunch and dinner so you're not peckish and thinking about snacks.
Oh my gosh, exercise really improves my mental and physical health. Those endorphins help me out every time. I really recommend finding something that you look forward to - at the moment, for me it’s my daily walk through some greenery, an online yoga class with my favourite teacher, Emily, practising some salsa or dancing along to some Zumba routines on YouTube. Keep moving and keep those endorphins up.
12. Get some fresh air and sun
If you’re allowed in your country, make the most of that trip to the shop for essentials or that one hour of outdoor exercise. It is good for the soul. Open a window and feel the fresh air. Bask in the sunbeams. Nourish yourself with nature - again it can improve mental health.
Good luck, we're in this together. Find out which of these make you feel good and stick with them. Let me know which ones work for you and if you discover other ways to maintain focus and good mental health.