Working from home?

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In the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, many companies are implementing voluntary or mandatory work-from-home policies. That means lots of us are dealing with the unusual challenge working from home for the first time, full time. Even if you are used to it the circumstances are very different under the coronavirus Lockdown rules and it can feel very suffocating!

Get Dressed

It might seem like a simple tip, but it’s a crucial one. Waking up and taking care of your appearance can go a long way towards helping you feel like you’re taking care of yourself. Besides, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that no one from work will see you. It’s 2020 and we are all about to have a lot of video meetings.

Even if you won’t be interacting with another person all day, it’s important to dress for success. This includes showering and brushing your teeth! This will tell your brain that it’s work time, not relaxation time.
 
Create an at-home office

One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home life separate.

Just because you’re not commuting and going into an office doesn’t mean you should skip your weekday morning preparations. Wake up at your normal time, shower, and get dressed. It may sound trivial, but this helps you mentally prepare for the day ahead and get into the “I’m going to work” mindset.

It might be tempting to work from your sofa or even from your bed, but this could take a huge toll on your productivity. Try to always work from a consistent room, desk, or chair, to tell your brain that it’s time for work, not relaxation.

If you’re used to going into an office each day, the separation between work and home is physical, and you want to try to recreate that as much as possible with a designated physical workspace at home.

If you don’t have a desk, use your dining room table. Besides making you feel like you’re at an “office,” this helps you maintain good posture, avoid distractions, and leave your work behind at the end of the day.

Make sure to personalise your space. After all, you will be spending a lot of time there!
 
Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours

Keeping work time and personal time separate helps you to keep productive while you’re at work and reduces stress when you aren’t at work. In the same way that you scheduled your work hours, schedule, communicate and plan when you will not be available to work. For example, if you like to spend time with your family in the evenings, make sure you let your colleagues know that you aren’t available for work during that time.  And make sure you stick to the personal schedules you set.  It’s very easy to get immersed in work if your desk is at home and forget to take time out for yourself.
 
Plan Your Day

One way to keep productivity up is to make a plan for your work day. Before you even start working, make sure you know what your priorities are for the day, how long you think it will take you to get everything done and what you will work on if you have extra time.

Here are some important factors to consider:

  • When does your boss needs you to be available
  • Communication with your co-workers and customers
  • Time of day when you are most productive
  • Do the highest priority tasks first
  • Plan your day around your own natural cycles–do the hardest work when you have the most energy throughout the day
  • Plan yourself rewards and breaks throughout the day

Make sure you get up from your desk during those breaks – get some fresh air, grab a healthful snack and talk with another human being if at all possible. All of these activities will help you reset, get your blood flowing and make sure you’re ready to tackle the next set of tasks.

Don’t Get Too Sucked in by the News—or Anything Else

Distraction is one of the big challenges facing people who work from home—especially people who aren’t used to it.
You probably already take a few breaks throughout the day at the office and that’s fine to do at home, too. Using that time to throw in a load of laundry is OK, but try not to look at your new work arrangement as an opportunity to finally clean out that cupboard or anything else that takes a lot of sustained focus.

Right now, one of the biggest distractions is the news. And if you’re working remotely because of the new coronavirus, checking in on COVID-19 updates is going to be at the front of your mind. It’s good to stay informed, of course, but it’s also easy to get yourself into an anxious mess.

Being efficient working from home is all about boundaries too. This means setting rules for kids, pets, and your spouse or roommates. Try to encourage them to leave you alone while you are working so you can stay focused.

Try to keep the boundaries friendly and playful, but make sure you stick to them. One fun idea is to make a sign for the door of your office that indicates whether you’re working or not.
 
Communicate – Don’t Forget to Socialise

When the whole office suddenly starts working from home, you’re cutting off a lot of the casual social interactions you’re used to having throughout the day that help you feel less lonely and break up the monotony of work.

One of the best things about working in an office is the potential for collaboration and socialisation. You don’t have to lose this just because you are working from home.

Try to check in with your colleagues at least a couple of times per week. It’s a good idea to set up regular check-ins via phone or video conferencing like Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom.

Make sure you keep up on a personal level as well as a professional level.
 
Working At Home With Kids

It’s difficult enough to get work done if you have children at home, but even harder with younger kids like babies and toddlers. Still, it’s not impossible if you have plan ahead and have some flexibility. Here are tips to help you master the work-from-home challenge:

Get help, if you can. It might not be the best choice for your family with the social distancing advice but if you have someone that can help out (e.g. a family member that can stay isolated with you), you’ll be able to get the most amount of work done. If you co-parent, take turns between watching the kids and working. When you’re working, go in a separate room so your kids don’t know you’re there.

Mix up your hours. If you are able to (especially with companies being more flexible around COVID-19)– try to squeeze in work when your baby or toddler is asleep, like early morning, sleep times, and at night. It’s not ideal, but you’ll be more productive if you have quiet time to yourself.

Try new activities. Get out games that kids haven’t played with for a while or get them involved in things like crafts, stickers, puzzles, and Legos.

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