The COVID-19 outbreak has affected everyone, everywhere, and turned many things that were once a rarity into the new normal. Working from home is one of these.
For those not accustomed to this way of life, working from home is an art form, and not an easy one to master. You have to turn what was your relaxing sanctuary into a productive space, develop a new level of discipline and be determined to make it work.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of ways to stay motivated, stay calm and do the best you can as we self-distance, self-isolate and work within a lockdown. This is a new way of living for us all, but there’s a very real chance this could become the new normal. Introducing our work-from-home survival guide:
1. Find Your Dedicated Workspace
Unless you have a home office, the obvious choice is to work from the kitchen table, which tends to be okay until your children want to do their homework or your housemate wants to start cooking. That’s why we recommend you find a space you can call yours; somewhere you can close the door, create a barrier and not worry about any interruptions as you get on with your work, whether that’s a desk in your bedroom or a table in your garden shed.
2. Set Your Own Office Hours
Not everyone is suited to the traditional 9-to-5 working day. Some are early-risers, others are go-to-bed-laters, while a lot of people will be trying to juggle WFH with homeschooling. The important thing is to set your own office hours and then focus on your work during those hours. To get started, make a list of your other must-do activities, such as household chores, picking up your favourite book and playing teacher, and then build your working day around those.
3. Create A Comfortable Space
Beyond having your own set space, gather some things that will help you get in the zone. Brew a pot of Earl Grey, change the lighting to bright, water your office plants, turn on the noise-cancelling function on your headphones, press play on an office playlist, turn the radio station to whatever your colleagues listened to, or anything else that will signal it’s work time.
4. Plan Your Day, Or Your Week
Without anyone else there to motivate you, push you, remind you of what needs doing or what tasks are still ongoing, there will be days where you find it tough to find your groove. But making a to-do list each morning will help you prioritise your schedule and make sure you get things done. A bullet journal can be helpful, or sticking post-it notes to the wall above your desk. Whatever helps you work through the day and keep procrastination at bay. That said, we’re living in an uncertain world right now, and there may be days when you can’t focus at all, so give yourself some grace by setting weekly goals instead.
5. Take A Break
While we’re on the subject of keeping yourself efficient and on task, try adopting the Pomodoro technique to maintain your focus by giving yourself a five-minute break every 25 minutes. Get out of your chair, stretch your legs, pour yourself a coffee, digest a quick chapter of your book, get adventure-ready with the Stubble & Co blog, anything. Taking some short breaks throughout the day will help you recharge your batteries and become more productive when you’re at your desk.
6. Use Your Commute Time
Another survival-must when working from home is exercise, and there’s no better time to release that dopamine than on your commute to work. Do some living room yoga, do thirty laps of your garden, dust down the rowing machine you “borrowed” from your dad’s loft, anything to clear the cobwebs from your brain before you head to your work space. Of course, exercise isn’t your only option. Practise mindfulness, try meditation or add these non-travel adventures to your day as a way of helping yourself and others because we all need to stay mentally healthy too.
7. "Get Out More"
Even before this pandemic, it was extremely easy to become isolated when working from home. This is on a different level. That’s why it’s so important you “get out” and meet people. Join a Facebook forum, sign up to online seminars, schedule some social calls with your colleagues, host a business breakfast over FaceTime, and make the effort to catch-up with your friends, family, clubs and other organisations.
8. Pick Up The Phone
Emailing is great for managing tasks and delivering projects, but now is the time to grab every opportunity to speak to people. Not only will you get a better understanding of what needs to be done, but you’ll also get to indulge in human engagement, allowing you to maintain relationships from the confines of your home. Make this your new default setting; you won’t regret it and your colleagues, clients, teammates and bosses won’t forget it.
9. Talk With Your WFH Tribe
People talk about working from home like it’s the best thing ever and the only option moving forward, which it might well be. But it takes a lot of adjusting. Not just for you, but for everyone in your home, so take the time to talk with your partner, kids and/or flatmates so that you’re all on the same page. We’re all having to make major adjustments to the way we live and work, and transparency is the best way to chat about any boundaries you might need during your work times.
10. Switch Off
We all want and need distractions right now, but the last thing you want is blurred lines -- not with everything else that’s going on. So once the clock strikes 5 and your working day is over, turn off your computer, leave your work space and do what’s needed to turn your home back into that relaxing palace where you can cook, watch Netflix without judgement and read until you pass out with your lights on. You might be working from home, but it’s still home.