Saturday 21 March 2020

My working from home tips

With many of us working from home in this current crazy state of the world, I thought it would be a good time to share the tips I have learnt over the past four years since I began working from home. I definitely learnt the hard way in many respects, from some days spent in my pyjamas until midday, to going far too long without leaving the house - habits that I quickly discovered were not conducive to a productive working day. So, I thought it might be useful to share the below 10 tips for anyone who has found themselves in the position of being at home with your laptop and not too sure how to navigate this new way of life.

  1. Get out of the house first thing in the morning - this tip may not be for everyone, but I have found that getting out of the house and starting my day off with some exercise - either going to a gym class or taking my dog for a run - is the best way that I can start my day. It allows me to get some fresh air, social interaction and a bit of an endorphin rush, which then sets me up for a fresh day of work ahead.
  2.  Shower and get dressed into some proper (but comfy) clothes - it is so easy to roll out of bed, stay in your pyjamas and grab your laptop to start your working day, and before you know it, it's 1pm and you haven't left the couch. I find that it's so important to have a shower and pop on some proper, yet comfy, clothes (usually shorts or jeans, with a t-shirt or a jumper) to get me in the right frame of mind to have a productive day.
  3. Have a designated work space and leave that space at the end of the working day - it can also be all too easy to start your working day in bed, then head to the dining table for a couple of hours, then move to the sofa for an hour or so (before drifting asleep with your laptop falling onto the floor). If you can designate a particular area of your home as your working space (I have an office space but for the first couple of years of working from home, it was just a desk in our lounge room), you will feel more productive, and can then leave that space at the end of the day so that you have some form of separation from your work life and personal life.
  4. Make a healthy breakfast to start your day - one of the temptations of working from home is to reach into your pantry and snack on chocolate and cookies for the first few hours of the day, however the sugar crash is never worth it. I pretty much always start my day with a bowl of porridge loaded with delicious, nutrient-rich ingredients (as well as a coffee, of course) which keeps me full for the first few hours of my working day.
  5. Have set meal times - I find that if I don't set myself meal times, I will just graze constantly throughout the day. So, as a general rule, I have breakfast around 7:30am, a morning snack or cup of tea around 10am, lunch around 12pm, and if I'm feeling peckish, an afternoon snack around 3pm. Not only does this stop me from eating allll the chocolate in the pantry, but it gives my brain a break from work and a chance to stretch my legs.
  6. Have a break in the middle of the day (and leave the house if possible) - one of the benefits of having an energetic labrador is that he encourages (or forces) me to leave the house at least once a day to take him for a walk. We tend to go for a post-lunch walk which is around the time that my brain is screaming for a break and when he is super energetic after a long morning of sleeping. Even if you don't have a dog, getting out of the house even for 15-20 minutes for a walk around the block really helps to refresh your mind and get some fresh, clean air in your lungs.
  7. Give yourself mini breaks throughout the day - this is similar to point number 5, but I find that I need to have 5 minute breaks here and there to give my brain a break. Whether it be to make a cup of tea, pop a load of laundry in the washing machine, check Instagram for 5 minutes, or have a quick game of fetch with my dog, I find that having these short breaks throughout the day helps to reset my mind and makes me more productive for the next block of work I need to do.
  8. Keep your working space clear and clean - something else that is really easy to do is let clutter accumulate on your desk or table, whether it be multiple cups and mugs, an abundance of pens and papers, or wrappers from your morning and afternoon snacks. I try to keep my desk as clean as possible with only the essentials on it, and once I've finished using a cup or plate, I try to take it back to the kitchen pretty quickly so that clutter doesn't accumulate, as this usually results in me feeling more stressed and overwhelmed than I need to be.
  9. Close or minimise distracting tabs - I find that keeping open tabs such as Facebook (or, particularly at the moment, ABC News), I am much more likely to hover my mouse over the lastest notification or click the refresh button to see what the latest update is on the Covid situation. However, if those tabs aren't open, I am more focused on my task at hand and am less likely to get distracted. If possible, keep these tabs to your break times, and feel free to spend 5-10 minutes having a scroll through the latest posts then before getting back into your working mindset.
  10. Have a set end time - it can (sometimes) be very easy to continue working on the task in front of you and before you know it, it's 7pm and the sun has set outside. I try to finish work around the same time each day so that I'm not letting my working day trickle into my personal time.
I hope these tips will help those of you who will be working from home for the foreseeable future. Even adopting a handful of these tasks should help to make you feel a bit more settled into your new working environment (and let's hope it won't be too long before we're all back to our usual, everyday working situations).

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