If there’s one thing that was unexpected this year, it was being thrown into a remote working position. All of a sudden, we said goodbye to tedious commutes and stuffy offices, and hello to freedom and coffee whenever we want.
Working from home is excellent, but it soon becomes easy to feel lazy, bored, and isolated. If you have kids, it’s probably been a nightmare and a blessing all at once. If you live alone, you’re probably feeling lonelier than ever.
With large parts of the country set to yet again go into lockdown at any moment, we look at how to work at home effectively and stop ourselves from going mad.
Top Tips for Working From Home To Stop You From Going Mad, Losing Focus and Getting Fired
1. Establish a Routine
Believe it or not, waking up at wheneverclock and dragging yourself in front of your computer isn’t a great way to start the day. Instead, pick a time to wake up, stick to it, and if you can, try to fit in some exercise and a good breakfast before you sit down.
Humans love routine, it keeps us happy and feeling secure. Our body clocks love to know what time we’re going to bed and waking up. And doing so can improve your physical and mental health.
Going from bed to desk is not setting you up for the day. And bringing your laptop into bed is even worse. Get up, get the blood pumping, fuel your body and then work. You will notice a big difference in your mood and productivity.
2. Maintain Consistent Hours
As tempting as it is to start work at 10am or just work the four hours on a Friday, it’s all going to catch up to you. Keeping consistent hours each day will allow you to stay focused and on top of things.
There is nothing worse than waking up on a Monday and realizing that you have 1.5 weeks worth of work to do this week. Keep on track, so your work doesn’t bunch up, leaving you overwhelmed and stressed.
If you’re struggling to work your regular work hours at home, if you can, try block scheduling. Pick three or four blocks to work in throughout the day.
For example, 8 am-11 am, 12 pm-3 pm, 3.30 pm-4.30 pm. That gives you a total of 7 hours and an hour for lunch. You can throw in some cheeky 5-10 minute breaks in there too.
If you’re more productive at home, which many are, reduce your number of hours. If you can, why would you work extra hours when you have already done your work? Focus on productivity rather than hours.
3. Set Your Boundaries At Home
You love your kids and your partner and would love to hang and chat, but you have so much to do. Set your boundaries right from the start. You could even draw up some special rules such as:
- No disturbing between set hours.
- Share breakfast and lunch duties.
- Everybody tidy up after themselves.
- Share the responsibility of any pets.
Just because you’re now at home, doesn’t mean you need to do everything. Setting boundaries is the best way to maintain balance and harmony.
4. Schedule Your Breaks
Remember, your boss isn’t there with you. You have newfound freedom to take breaks when you like. At first, this can become very tempting, and before you know it, you’re spending three hours a day re-watching Friends on Netflix.
Stop! Schedule your breaks and stick to them. This way, you give your brain a rest, but you also stay productive and on schedule.
Don’t be afraid to take breaks either. Take your full lunch hour and enjoy it. You deserve it after years in the office feeling guilty about taking a full hour and scoffing a Tesco sandwich at your desk.
5. Get Out the House
One of the worst things about being in an office is the lack of time you get to spend outdoors. For most of us, we sit under unnatural fluorescent lights all day fixed to our computer screens. Some people don’t even have windows in their office, which should be illegal in our opinion!
Take the dog out for a walk, take the kids to the park, or just go sit on a bench and feed the birds. Just get out of the house for some fresh air, it’s good for the mind, body, and spirit.
6. Make Your Desk Space Work For You
Are you sitting in bed? Sat at the kitchen table? Crunched up in a spare room? No, no, and definitely no! You must set up a proper workspace for a few good reasons.
Firstly, your body needs adequate support so that you don’t hurt your back or neck. Sitting at a desk all day is not good for your body, especially an old wooden kitchen chair.
Secondly, if you’re not adequately supported, you start to feel pains and aches, which then lead to a loss of focus and possible injuries. This makes you unproductive and feeling agitated all day.
If you don’t have the money to set your workspace up, don’t be afraid to ask your employer to help you out. If you’re going to be working remotely for a long time, you’re well within your right to ask for at least a comfortable chair.
Finally, make your workspace pleasant. Get some plants, create a music playlist, put in a coffee machine, and even add some candles! Why not?
7. Socialize Where Possible
Working from home can be isolating and quickly lead to loneliness. Some people thrive working at home, whereas others can find it unbearable. It’s essential to maintain some form of social activity when working at home.
To be more social you can organize meetings with colleagues, set up group channels to discuss things, have regular meetups in real life throughout the year, and spend your lunch hour with friends or family that live nearby.
Some companies have started to introduce Friday meetups where employees can discuss their week, have a general chat, and even enjoy a drink together over a webcam. Working from home doesn’t have to be lonely. Seek out opportunities to connect with others where possible.
8. Take Your Holiday
Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you don’t need to take your holidays. Working at home is still WORK! Despite what many think. You are still putting the hours in, so you should take your holidays to give yourself a break every now and then.
If you’re a freelancer, it’s easy to fall into the “time is money” attitude and spend all your waking hours working. But taking a holiday is vital to recharge and replenish your creativity. Make sure you make time for time off and put the laptop away.
9. Dress the Part
Working in your pyjamas or underwear is pretty great, right? But, there is an argument for dressing the part at home even though you’re not at work.
Dressing nicely and wearing your favourite vegan perfume can psychologically prepare you for a more productive day. When we’re in our pyjamas, we struggle to move beyond our morning sleepiness.
Instead, try having a nice hot shower (cold if you’re courageous), get the brian woke up, put on your best clothes, and sit down to work like a professional.
Studies have shown that people who dress for work while working at home are more productive than those who stay in their pyjamas.
10. Eat Healthy and Use a Meal Plan
Now you don’t have Pret A Manger luring you in each lunchtime, you can create a healthy meal plan. A healthy diet that is rich in plant foods will help elevate your mood, keep you focused, and stop you from gaining weight.
Too many fall into the trap of ordering take-aways or snacking too much while at home. A meal plan will ensure you buy all the food you need for the week (don’t forget snacks) and if planned well, you can ensure you have leftovers for lunch the next day to avoid cooking which takes time or ordering unhealthy fast foods.
If you live with your partner or kids, ask them to be a part of the meal plan and take turns to make meals. Sharing responsibility will help you all stay busy at home and productive with your work.
11. Exercise Regularly
For those that are new to working from home, it’s an excellent opportunity to start exercising each day. Now you don’t have to commute, you have that time to do a short workout each morning.
There are plenty of great ways to stay fit at home, including yoga, HIIT, weight training, and running. Exercising before you start work each day will help your brain release a concoction of chemicals that will improve your mood and focus.
You don’t need to work out for long, just 20-30 minutes is enough to break a sweat and get those chemicals pumping. Exercise will set you up for a great day, you may lose a bit of weight, and you’ll improve the general health of your body and mind simultaneously.
If you’re a newbie to remote working, don’t let the experience overwhelm you. Find the best routine that allows you to stay positive, focused, and productive. Above all else, enjoy this experience while it lasts. Make the most of the opportunity using the guidance above.