For many of us, the current covid-19 pandemic has meant huge changes in the way we work. While a huge number of people have been furloughed, many of us have switched the office to the kitchen table and are adapting to working from home, perhaps for the first time. Distance working has its advantages – how many video calls have you attended in your pyjamas?! But it can also be difficult to balance work and home, especially at such a challenging time. So here are a few tips that might help you work from home more effectively, without causing additional stress to you or your family.
1. Set up a dedicated work space
You may be lucky enough to have a home office, but if you’ve been working from the kitchen table or a corner of the bedroom it’s more difficult to get into a “work” mindset, especially if you’re constantly interrupted by partners, pets or small children! Set up a dedicated work space and make it clear that when you are in that space, you’re not to be disturbed. A dedicated work space also makes it easier to switch off at the end of the day when you rejoin the rest of the family.
2. Get into a routine
Often routine is the first thing to go when our lives are disrupted, but routine is really important when it comes to our motivation and mindset, and it can be difficult to get back into a regular routine once it’s gone. Waking up at the same time each day and sticking to a schedule as far as possible will make you more productive now and it will be easier to return to a more “normal” routine once lockdown is over.
3. Get dressed for the day you have
It’s been well publicised that jogging pants are THE thing to be wearing during the pandemic, but dressing down has an effect on your mindset and can make you approach work in a more casual manner. That’s usually fine, but if you have important online meetings, a too-casual approach can be viewed as unprofessional. So dress for the day you have – even if that means wearing a shirt and tie from time to time!
4. Use online tools to keep in contact
Technology means working from home is easier than ever, and we have a host of tools to help us keep in contact, whether that’s through file sharing, messaging or video conferencing. Watch and Learn (https://watchandlearn.io/) brings together all these communication tools and adds bonus features such as archiving, video messaging and live transcription.
5. Get some fresh air
Home working doesn’t mean you need to be tied to the desk 9-5, so make sure you take regular breaks from both the screen and your home office. We are all allowed out for daily exercise, so get outside and stretch your legs, clear your head and take a few deep breaths of fresh air. You’ll feel better for it!
6. Prepare for disruptions
No matter how well organised your work space, if you have children around you are bound to be disturbed from time to time. While interruptions are annoying, try not to get too frustrated – your children are just as affected by the current situation as you, and when it comes to it, their needs are more important than that email; it can wait!
7. Work when you are most productive
You may find your normal working hours just don’t seem as effective when you’re working from home. Think flexibly – are you more productive early in the morning before anyone else is awake, or later in the evening after the kids have gone to bed? Do you feel the need for a nap after lunch? Adjust your working day to suit the situation and your emotions, and you will be far more productive.
8. Set achievable goals
Many of us went into this pandemic with big goals – to learn a language, write a book, take a course – and then found all we really wanted to do was eat crisps and watch Netflix! The same is true of work. While initially it may have seemed the ideal opportunity to finish that big project, you may now be struggling even to do the day to day stuff. Every morning write a list of achievable tasks – the stuff you need to do – and congratulate yourself on getting them done. This will keep you motivated, and anything else you complete is a bonus.
9. Turn off your internet!!
Okay, so this tip runs counter to the one about keeping in contact via online tools, but when you’re always connected to the internet it’s so easy to respond to a social media notification, get sucked into the rabbit hole of YouTube videos and then *ping* half the day has gone! Try turning your Wi-Fi off for an hour. You might be surprised how much you get done when you’re not constantly distracted, and if anyone needs you that desperately they can always phone you.
10. Be kind to yourself
This is a strange time, and we are all going through a roller coaster of emotions, even if we don’t acknowledge it. Ideally, setting up an effective workspace, blocking distractions, getting into a routine and setting achievable goals will help you work more effectively. But if you’re still struggling, be kind to yourself – switch off the computer, go for a walk, play a game with the kids or take a bath. There’s always another day.