I've been working from home for more than a year now, and have a pretty good handle on it. But I remember finding it so tough when I first started. So, today I wanted to share my top 5 pieces of advice for those who find themselves working from home for the first time.
Your working from home routine doesn't have to be (and honestly, shouldn't) be the same as your in the office routine. BUT, having some kind of routine is really helpful.
Before you make a timetable/schedule, think about what tasks need to be done every day and how long they take. Remember to include breaks and time for movement or fun too!
At the minute I'm adding daily cleaning and reading into my routine, think about your own wants/needs/goals and how you can add these to your day too.
It's up to you whether your fully timetable the day or list tasks/goals and allocate an amount of time to each. I'll share an example below:
0930-1100 Project 1
1120-1230 Project 2
Breakfast 30 minutes
Emails 30 minutes
Project 1 1.5 hours
Coffee Break 20 minutes
Project 2 1 hour 10 minutes
Lunch 45 minutes
Walk 45 minutes
Part of your routine should be getting dressed. There is a temptation to take full advantage of being at home and staying in your pajamas all day, but I promise getting dressed makes a big difference! In saying that, I'm not suggesting you get dolled up as if you were heading out on the town, but just changing from your PJs into a tracksuit can be the difference in you sitting in front of the TV for half the day or opening your laptop and cracking on with work before noon- trust me. Get up, dressed, wash the face + teeth, make the bed and BOOM, you've already achieved something! Small actions, but big mindset changes.
2. Create a space to work.
I know this will be difficult for lots of people, especially those with children at home, but having a dedicated space for work means you can leave it- rather than have bits and pieces all over the place.
My current work space is a garden table in the spare room- but its away from everyone and everything else, so it works! Before I moved up here, I was using the kitchen table- if that's all you have, I suggest getting a box/bag and packing away your work at lunch time and when you finish in the evening. The act of putting things away or closing the door brings such relief!
If you have children at home doing school work, the kitchen table might be a good place where everyone can do some work together and help each other if needed. Again, make sure everything is put away at the end of the day.
3. Prioritise your workload.
This is particularly relevant for the current situation. The way things are, there are probably tasks you usually do that have dropped in urgency or become redundant. Make a list of the tasks you usually do and the tasks you have yet to start/complete. It will be a big list and can seem overwhelming, but bear with me!!
Get a blank sheet of paper and divide it into 4 by drawing a big + in the middle.
Label the boxes as urgent/important, not urgent/important, urgent/not important, not urgent/not important-> like this!
Once you have done this, put all the tasks from your big list into the box that best describes them. Then, you can prioritise your workload by starting with tasks that are both important and urgent. If you have deadlines, make sure to make note of these and add to your calendar. Look at your not urgent/not important list- are these tasks worth your time at the moment? If not, don't schedule them but do keep the list so that if you have extra time or get super bored, you have something to do!
4. Move regularly.
I know I mentioned this under number one, but seriously, working from home can mean you are sat in the same spot for hours on end staring at your computer screen.
Movement is so important for the mind and body, so make sure to get up and walk around or stretch regularly. I make time for a walk and an at-home workout most days, and I try to separate these to different times of the day- this is also great for colder days, as the movement gets the blood going and warms you up!
Walk when you're on calls- even just around the kitchen or around the garden (although this depends on your signal quality, which I've learned the hard way!).
Set an alarm on your phone or computer every hour and just stand up and stretch out a bit or do a few jumping jacks/squats etc.
Work standing up for a bit of time, if you have a high table or counter to use.
Have a desk dance-party a few times every day.
Do some bits of cleaning throughout the day- sweeping/hoovering, dusting, putting clothes on the line, cleaning windows/mirrors, cleaning doors, organising a cupboard or drawer...there's always something to be done!
5. Stay in contact with colleagues.
Working from home is really tough, because you don't have colleagues to bounce ideas off, grab a coffee with or chit-chat with between calls/emails. Staying connected to your colleagues or friends who are working from home can be a huge help.
Set up a What's App or Facebook group for work/your team, where you can ask questions and share advice.
Arrange a weekly team meeting on Zoom or Skype.
Use apps to share projects or to-do lists (there are hundreds of options- if you have access to the Microsoft Suite through work there are multiple apps to check out!).
When I started working from home I did none of this and felt so isolated. Now, I do all of the above, plus a few phone calls to colleagues every month and I'm much happier, plus my motivation to work is much greater! Don't underestimate the importance of socialising- just remember to do it at a distance!
The last things I will mention about working from home is don't be too hard on yourself!
When I started I expected myself to work constantly as if I were in an office, but it isn't the same. Keep your schedule and to-do lists realistic. Remember that you aren't productive every day, some days it is OK to just get the important/urgent things done.
Take it one day at a time and keep editing your routine until you find one that works (and know that it will change regularly, and that is OK!
I hope this helps some of you. If you have other working from home tips, please share them with me- I know I still have lots to learn!
Little O x