The number of people who have been working from home over the last couple of years has increased exponentially because of the Covid Pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns. It is pretty clear that a new precedent has been set for flexible and remote work and we have to look at how best to adapt to the new situation.
Whether working from the kitchen table suits you or not, those who can and are able to work from home, have faced getting used to it and some have been actively embracing it. Several workplaces are anxious to return to the office whereas others are less so.
For some people, the lack of commute and freedom to work flexibly has been a blessing, but isolation and new technology have been a real struggle for others. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, it is important to put a structure in place to work as effectively as you can.
Here are our top five tips for working from home:
Get into the Work Mindset
Many people have struggled with not being able to distinguish their workspace from their leisure space. It’s hard to relax at the end of the day in the same room that you have been working, and it’s hard to work in the same room you have been sleeping in.
One way to help this is by doing small things which help you feel like you are at work. For example, it’s essential to get up out of bed and get dressed every day; you might also want to clear the area you work in of anything which distracts you.
Some people go as far as to go for a walk around the block before they start work. This is to simulate a “walk to work”, so when the door closes after their walk and they have “arrived at work”, they are in the correct mindset to get a lot done. It is a small mental trick but it is something that can help to set the correct mental tone for the rest of the working day.
Set a Routine that Works for You
Everybody works differently. The way you worked in the office might not necessarily be the same way you work at home. Try to find a structure and a routine that works for you; it will help you stay focused and feel motivated to work.
Some people like to have a full morning routine to help them wake up before they start work, while others prefer to wake up at the crack of dawn and get going. Whatever it is that makes you feel most productive, work it out and then stick to it.
Some people decide to use techniques like the “Pomodoro”, which involves setting an alarm for twenty-five minutes and spending that time with a high level of concentration on a single task. Once the alarm goes off, you take a walk or a break from the screen for five minutes then start over again. twenty-five minutes of intensive work, followed by five minutes of rest can give you a real productivity boost. If you try to complete a whole task every twenty-five minutes, the to-do list begins to shrink quite quickly to manageable levels.
After around four sessions, you should take a longer break of 15-20 minutes to clear your head. The timer instils a sense of urgency that can often be lacking when working in an unsupervised environment and means that you can unlock periods of intense concentration to complete tasks in a more focused way than might otherwise be possible.
Getting fresh air every day is essential for your health and well-being. It will help you to have more energy, sleep better, and focus more. During the cold and dark January days, it can be hard to persuade yourself to go out, but it will help you cope with working from home so much better. Some people have found that taking meetings over the phone allows them to walk as they do it.
Walking will also help to ensure that you get an appropriate level of exercise while working from home and releases endorphins to make you feel happier. Many people have found that they expended energy walking to the train station or within their workplace that they don’t do while at home, so it is easier to gain weight while working from home. Making the effort to walk for around an hour a day will help to control this.
One of the biggest challenges we have faced due to the pandemic is isolation and limited contact in all aspects of our lives. If you were somebody who enjoyed working as part of a sociable and lively team, the move to working alone from home might have been tough.
It is possible to combat this feeling by staying in regular communication with your colleagues. It doesn’t have to be a formal meeting. You could ask for a half an hour catch-up chat, or send some work you have done to be reviewed. This can help you to stay connected to those around you and retain the feeling of all being part of the same team, despite the added distances that have been added to the equation.
Be Kind to Yourself
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all facing challenges we could never have dreamed of. If you are struggling to be productive, or stay positive, it’s completely understandable. Take it each day at a time, and set yourself small and achievable goals. The pandemic has been really hard on a lot of people but we have worked hard as a society to get through it, and as long as we continue to do what we can to help each other, life will get better again.
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