Until recently working from home was mostly reserved for freelancers, the self-employed or those cheeky Fridays when you "must" be at home to take in that important delivery - read early finish to get a head start on the roads for that weekend away!
But in all seriousness, we now find ourselves in a time where self-isolation and social distancing is dictating that a large percentage of the population, who wouldn't usually, are now working from home.
Although the idea of working in your onesie or skype sessions on your sofa sounds like the dream, there are a lot of drawbacks to WFH, and without some self-control, you could find that reality a lot harder then you thought. It's actually not for everyone. Some of you will love it but some of you will find it a very difficult situation, especially if you relish the company of others or lack self-discipline.
As I head into my sixth year of self-employment I thought I'd share my top tips that will hopefully help you stay on top of this situation and how you can use it to your advantage.
1. Set A Routine.
It sounds boring but this will be the backbone that stops you melting into a pool of self-indulgence. Get up the time you would normally get up and make sure you're ready to start work on time. Define clear working hours so you're not chained to your laptop all evening and remember to schedule things into your day like breaks and lunchtime. Try to stick to these working hours. You might also want to try to stick to those eating, drinking and snacking times too, depending on how much willpower you have!
2. Get Dressed For Business.
There are two schools of thought on this, but I firmly believe in getting dressed for work, and often will do hair and makeup too. For me it sets the tone, it helps me put my professional head on, and as I'm often video-calling clients I like to dress appropriately. I have friends that work in their PJs, but I prefer to save relaxing loungewear for my downtime. This helps me mentally separate the two parts of my day.
3. Use Your Time Wisely.
Flexibility is the number one advantage of working from home. In theory, you can pick and choose your hours and as long as you get the work done it shouldn't be an issue. But don't be fooled. It's so easy to be tempted by household chores and jobs that "will only take a minute!" Save these tasks for your breaks or personal time. If you struggle with keeping on track or productivity then do the hardest job first. Break it down into bitesize chunks and use a timer to get through tasks you're not enjoying.
Set your timer for 25 minutes work, then take a 5 minute break where you get up from your desk and do something else. Walk away from your desk and make a drink, stretch your legs and back, look out the window for a few minutes or fuss your pet, then return to your desk. Repeat 4 times rewarding yourself with a 30 minute break on the fourth cycle.
4. Limit Distractions.
TV, social media and your personal phone will suck time from your day. If it's too tempting not to look at these then put them in a separate room and check them on break times. This can also apply to pets too! My cat has an annoying tendency to want to be involved with client skype sessions, so I do have to lock him away until they are over!
5. Decide Where You Are Going To Work.
Having a specific work area stops your work life spilling into your home life. While you may not have the luxury of a home office, your dining room table or similar will help you mentally separate relaxing spaces like your bed or sofa, from working or more formal space in your home.
6. Put Work Away On An Evening.
I'm lucky enough to have a separate work studio on which I can close the door at night and switch off. Putting away paperwork, that report you're working on and your laptop on an evening can really help your mental wellbeing. If you're constantly looking at work during your downtime you won't fully tune out.
7. Go Outside.
If you stay cooped up at home every day you'll go stir crazy. Take 20 minutes from your lunchbreak and go outside. Sit in your garden, walk into town or your nearest park. Even a stroll around the block will do. Seeing daylight will lift your mood, even if the weather isn't great, and your afternoon will be far more productive after that break from your desk.
Working from home makes you lazy! You no longer have that 10 minute walk to the train station. Your walk downstairs to the kettle is significantly smaller than heading to the staff canteen. Your usual trip to the deli for lunch may not happen anymore. Trust me, your average step count will reduce drastically so make time on an evening or morning to schedule in some exercise. If you're no longer able to attend a gym then do a home video or set up some circuits in your garden.
9. Socialise Online.
Just because you're not heading down the pub tonight doesn't mean you need to miss out on all social contact. Schedule time to speak to friends and family via video after work. During the day call colleagues about queries rather than just emailing. Working from home can feel isolated, so maximise time where you can have virtual contact with others. Your mental health will thank you for it.
10. Take Advantage Of The Extra Time At Home.
Most Britons spend 58 minutes on their commute. If you're working from home you could be gaining back 2 hours per day - 10 hours per week. Think of what you could do with that commute time now. That side project you've been thinking about for years. That startup idea you've sat on for months. That business you want to start but you're always saying you can't because you don't have the time. One of the biggest positives to come out of WFH is the time you could potentially gain back. This scenario won't last forever so use that time wisely now.
I'd love to know how you get on with these tips and if you are working from home.
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Michelle Ramsay - The Fashion Expert®
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