As coronavirus continues to affect us all, an increasing number of us are bringing work home to avoid heading out to the office and risking inadvertently spreading the virus. And while it’s a luxury to have the option, whether to self-isolate, care for families, or protect co-workers, the adjustment from office to home can be a tough one.
I’ve been working from home for the past 12 months full-time, and my work as a journalist means every day is different, with no set working pattern – meaning I’ve learned how to get in the zone and get things done quickly and efficiently. Whatever job you do, though, the key to productivity is focussing your mind, and these are some of the things I do to get the most out of my working hours.
Find yourself a desk space
My mind wanders all over the place at the best of times, and when I’m faced with kitchen cupboards, 100s of TV channels, and the lure of my bed in the next room, it’s all too tempting to drop everything and call it a day. That’s why, whenever I’m working, I always sit at my desk for the duration – because that space is solely dedicated to work.
Obviously, if you’re working from home temporarily, I’m not suggesting kitting out your spare room as an office – that would be silly. But by sitting at the dining table or brunch bar, for example, as opposed to the sofa, bed, or even the loo, you’re more likely to be in the zone for work and not leisure.
Block out your time – and stick to it
Now you’re set up to work, make sure you stick to some sort of rota – like you would do in an office. The idea of working from home is great, until you start to feel like you’re living at work. That’s why separation is everything. If you work 9-5, stick to those hours – and don’t let things carry over.
Similarly, make sure you’re taking lunch hours and breaks, as you would do at work. Trips to the coffee machine and loo breaks all still stand too, so don’t feel guilty for stepping away from your computer for 10 minutes. It’s better to clear your mind and come back productive than to sit in a mid-afternoon slump for hours on end!
Keep up your food/exercise regime
The shift to working from home has several implications, and being in your personal space as opposed to an office building means you’re in a different headspace and likely less rigid when it comes to meals/breaks. etc. However, your body’s used to a routine, and if you start to change it now you’ll soon become sluggish and notice an effect on your work quality and energy levels.
Start the day with a healthy breakfast, don’t go overboard with the coffee, and stick to lunch and dinner as you would usually. Don’t get tempted by too many treats – they provide an instant hit, but when that wears off, you’ll either have to eat more to keep it up, or you’ll be ready for a mid-afternoon nap.
Keep up the exercise too! Gyms may be closed, but an outdoor run on your lunch break or 30 minutes of core yoga is enough to focus your mind and keep you on track for the day. FYI I’ve been using the Centr app from Chris Hemsworth and have seen a massive improvement in my body – and they’re waiving membership fees for the next six weeks! Click here to sign up for workouts, recipes, sleep and meditation guides.
Wind down with something different
As you begin to wind down at the end of the day, give yourself a break and do something different. As a journalist I’m staring at screens, keeping up with stories, and writing all day – so when evening comes around I like to switch everything off and totally zone out. Even 30 minutes away from the chaos of the news and the constant influx of social media can make a huge difference.
More than anything, switch off the computer, put it away out of sight, and reclaim your space again. Things are stressful enough without having to worry about work 24/7. Clock in, do your business, and clock out again – it might seem like coronavirus is taking over our lives, but that doesn’t mean work has to, too!
Other useful working from home tips
- Keep in contact with co-workers via group messaging – it’s important to have some sense of normality
- Shower and get dressed – it’ll help put you in the right frame of mind
- Set rules with family/flatmates for when you’re working
- Headphones are a godsend – use them to block out distractions
- If that fails, reach for the earplugs (yep, we’ve all been there)
- Reach out to supervisors if you need anything – just because you’re WFH doesn’t mean they don’t have to listen to you
- If you have to take calls maintain a separate number – NEVER use your personal mobile for work business
- Show up to meetings via conference calls to show you’re still invested
- Take sick days if you’re ill
- Overcommunication is better than no communication- don’t feel like you’re bothering people
- Make it work for you – everyone’s different, but finding a routine will help you make the best of the situation.