A lot of people are having to adjust to the challenge of working from home right now and unfortunately, many of them are finding it much more difficult than they thought it would be. People who’ve never worked from home before often think it’ll be a breeze getting up whenever they want, interspersing periods of work with walking the dog, playing with the kids or watching the TV, and generally having a slower pace of life, but the reality is often far different.
If you’re currently working from home and you’re finding it a challenge, here are a few things that could help your time at home run more smoothly…
Set up a designated workspace
It might be tempting to work from the comfort of your couch or even your cozy warm bed, but it’s probably not a good idea. Not only is it harder to get going when you’re working somewhere that’s too comfortable, but after a while, you begin to associate that comfy couch or bed with work, which makes it a whole lot harder to relax, unwind and get to sleep once the working day is over. Not only that but choosing a designated workspace can help you to create a calm, quiet place to work.
Ideally, you should choose an area of the home that doesn’t get as much traffic, which is as well insulated from the noise of family life as possible, and where you can work comfortably. A spare room with a desk (or room for one) is ideal, but a quiet corner in a room that doesn’t see much use can work just as well.
Make your space body-friendly
A lot of people who’ve started working from home ate reporting a lot more aches and pains than usual. This is not surprising because most of us don’t have homes that are set up for working, which means that our desk chairs may not be as supportive as we need or the position of our computer might cause a strain on our necks. So, if you are still able to shop, buying an ergonomic desk and chair could be a good idea. If that isn’t possible, you’re going to need to improvise. You can do this by using your kitchen countertops as a standing desk to give your back a break, using cushions to get the right height at your desk or placing your monitor on a stack of books so that you don’t have to crane your neck to do your work, for example — anything you can do to make yourself more comfortable will help to make the transition to home go much more smoothly.
Ensure you have the best tools
Working from home means you do not have the same access to your company’s infrastructure as you would in the office. This can make working efficiently much more difficult, so it’s always a good idea to do whatever you can to gather the best tools for your work. This could mean researching the best internet providers and switching your broadband connection to them, calling your cell phone provider to add extra data to your plan, investing in a higher-powered laptop or simply installing apps like Zoom and Slack, which make communicating with your team so much easier than it is to use a phone. The tools you need will depend on the work you do and what your company is providing, so you will need to figure this out for yourself, but make sure you do because it will make your life so much easier to manage.
Stick to a routine
It’s so easy to get distracted by the cat being cute, the latest addictive show on Netflix, or about a million other things when you’re working from home and there is no manager there to ensure that you’re doing what you should be. So, if you want to continue being as productive as you are in the office, one thing that can help is drawing up and sticking to a routine. Plan a set time to get up, immediately wash and dress for the day, maybe take a walk if you’re able, then sit at your desk until your planned lunchtime and so on. Of course, you can plan in a few more breaks and stuff if you like — there have to be some perks to working from home — but make sure they are planned because if you float aimlessly through the day, you probably won’t get everything done that you really need to.
Set a schedule for your kids
If you’re trying to work from home while the kids are also stuck in the house, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to work without constant distractions. However, setting a schedule for the kids, including breaks that coincide with your own, could help to keep you all busy and keep you all sane. This probably won’t work for young kids, but if they’re wold enough to keep themselves occupied, creating a schedule that includes things like online learning, doing an exercise class on Youtube, and playing on Minecraft for a while, interspersed with periods of a family walk. Lunch in the garden, etc., will help to keep you all on the same page and stop those constant interruptions from happening.
Work in shifts
If you’re a patent and you have your spouse living with you, one thing that can really help you to manage looking after kids and to work from home is working in shifts, It may mean that you can’t both work your usual hours, and one of you may even have to work in the evenings, but it will mean that you can both work without having to worry about the kids because the other parent will be on it. Chances are you’ll be able to work more efficiently this day, so you could actually end up working fewer hours by arranging your schedules to be complementary
A lot of people find the steep drop in interaction from being in the office to working alone at home hard to take, even when they have their family around them. If you’re feeling a bit lonely, try ramping up the level of communication you have with your workmates. Thanks to apps like Skype and Zoom, it has never been easier to connect with your workmates to discuss issues you’re having, brainstorm ideas or just have a quick chat to see how you’re all doing. It’ll help you all to stay positive and ensure that your work continues to be completed as efficiently as it ever was in the office.
Put the computer down
When you work from home, it is so easy to keep working long past you would have done in the office. It’s admiral that you take tour work so seriously and that you’re so willing to go the extra mile, but it probably isn’t a good idea. You’ll get stressed and burn out far faster if you spend all of your time at home working and that won’t be good for you or your family. So, set a finish time and switch off your computer, stop responding to work emails and take more time for you.
Don’t expect perfection
The fact is if you are not used to working from home, and you are only doing so as a temporary measure, you cannot expect everything to be perfect right off the bat. Chances are you don’t have the ideal setup, nor were you fully prepared for the transition, so do your best, but don’t sweat it if it takes you longer to finish that report or you make more mistakes than usual. Go easy on yourself and you’ll find the whole process far less stressful.
Make time for self-care
It’s not easy being stuck indoors for most of the day, which is why it’s important for anyone working from home to make time for their own self-care. Whether you meditate for 20 minutes each morning and evening, end the day with a hot bubble bath or take regular breaks to watch the birds in the garden, anything you can do to make time for yourself will help you to get through this difficult time a whole lot easier. You should never feel guilty about looking after yourself, especially now, when everything has been turned upside down and the future is more uncertain than it has been in a long time.
Working from home when you’re new to it can be a big adjustment. It can present you with a lot more challenges than you’d encounter in the office too. That being said, it can be a lot of fun — you don’t have to worry about a long commute or the annoying office politics for a start — and as long as you do what you can to prepare yourself for the experience there is no reason why you should not be able to get through it while keeping your head.