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Staying productive and sane whilst working from home

The whole world has had to pivot to working from home – or working remotely, and unless you were already used to it, for some working from home has been a dream – but for others it has been a nightmare.

When we think about being productive and remaining sane, this should also include keeping healthy. We have been in this situation for so long that if we don’t look after ourselves, we will soon become unhealthy.

How can we look after ourselves and others around us, and avoid falling into bad habits. Here are some tips:

Firstly you

  • How you start your day is important. We all have to start it in different ways. It is firstly important to have a proper breakfast. Take some exercise if you can – even if it is only a stretch out. However, if you have children to home school, you will need to prepare them for the day before you can begin yours.
  • Get dressed! This will mentally get you in and encourage you to feel in ‘work mode’. You don’t have to wear your usual work dress, but put yourself into that work space.
  • Set a routine – this is key. Adopt the same routine you would have used when in the workplace. Have your coffee and lunch break at the same time.
  • Be strict around the start and finish of each working day – and learn when to stop working and to walk away. Maybe do something that disconnects you from the working day. This may be going for a walk or ringing family or friends for a chat.
  • Define your working space if you can – this may be difficult where the whole family is at home competing for space. Have a room or a space as your working place. Don’t sit on your bed – apart from anything else this will cause you musculoskeletal problems.
  • Keep that space tidy – if you are taking over the dining room table it is easy to allow your working things to spread and take over. Tidy up your work things at the end of the working day.
  • Distractions! When you are at ‘work’ don’t get distracted by playing on your phone, checking your social media or watching the TV. When you are at ‘home’ – out of working time – don’t get distracted by work and checking your work emails.
  • Remember a lot of people are juggling working from home, home schooling, and the effects of a pandemic – be kind to others.
  • Don’t expect you will be working the same – manage your expectations and be kind to yourself. Accept you will be doing a lot of juggling and accept that with working from home, home schooling, domestic chores and looking after the children – each may not be carried out well as before.
  • Plan what you are doing for the day or have lists. As you cross things off the list, you will feel productive and have a sense of achievement that you have accomplished things on your list.
  • Don’t apologise for background noise or interruptions, whether that is the children, dogs or the doorbell.
  • To be productive, have what you need to work properly from home, such as equipment, technology, access to social media, reliable internet/signal, IT support in case it all crashes on you at a critical moment. Even ensure the lighting is sufficient to avoid headaches.
  • Track your time – don’t work for 8 hours in a go – break it up with short breaks.
  • Sleep well – even though you are not getting up to go into the office still ensure you are getting adequate sleep.
  • Be strict around your diet – being at home there is an easy temptation to go to the snack cupboard.
  • Have something different lined up for the weekend so it feels different to the week, and each day doesn’t blend into one.

Your team – or if you are not in a team, your network and contacts (your wider team)

  • Keep in touch with people – if you have work colleagues or a team it is important to keep in touch with them from a professional and personal point of view. If you work alone, schedule 121s. It is important to keep talking to contacts. It doesn’t have to be all about work. We are social beings and miss those office ‘water cooler’ moments.
  • Don’t be scared to reach out if you need help. Conversely reach out to those who may need help.
  • To be productive ensure your communication is very clear. When communicating with your team via email or zoom you may have to adapt your communication style. You may miss cues so be very vigilant.

If you have children around you

  • Set clear boundaries with them – ensure they know that work time is work time – not a time you can play with them.
  • Consider whether you could split the time with the children with your partner so you both have productive and less productive times.

Finally

For some working from home has been a struggle, but try and embrace the benefits of it – no commutes, no sitting in traffic, saving on fuel, working in the comfort of your home, and for the ladies- no uncomfortable shoes!

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