Tips for working from home

Home work space

Tips for working from home

We’re officially on lockdown as a nation as of tomorrow and that means that a lot of us will be working from home. For many it’s not a big adjustment, but that’s not true for everyone.

If you’re finding it difficult to get your head around working from home, below are a couple of tips. Please note that this is from a perspective of someone who does not have children. I completely understand that parents have added issues around working from home like children needing their attention, home schooling etc.

Set regular work hours

It’s important to structure your workday and you need set working hours to do this. If you don’t set your work hours, you will have difficulty switching off and relaxing. It will also help to get you into the ‘work’ frame of mind to be productive. Remember that working from home does not mean you’re always on, have a shutdown time.

Get up, shower and get dressed

This might sound obvious, but many people fall into the rut of rolling out of bed and start working right away. It’s important for your mental health to get up, shower and get dressed as if you’re going into the office. Make sure you’re ready for when your workday starts. Trust me, this will help to get you in the right frame of mind to get down to business. This doesn’t necessarily mean wearing regular office attire, but definitely invest in comfortable clothes that are not pyjamas.

Woman in pyjamas on bed

Have a routine

This ties in with #1 and #2. A routine is necessary to keep your day structured and stay productive. Set an alarm and get up at the same time every day, start your workday at the same time and schedule regular breaks. Part of this is also not snacking all day long, and if you can’t help yourself, snack on healthy food like carrot sticks.

Set rules if you have others living in your space

If you are sharing your home with others that will be around during your work hours, set clear rules. It’s important to reduce distractions, so ask people not to talk to you during certain hours unless it’s important and to keep noise like TV and music volume to a minimum. Remember to also ask them to stay clear of your space during video calls, unless you want to go viral like the BBC correspondent did a couple of years ago.

Set up a work space if you can

If you have space, set up a home office. This will clearly define your work space from your home space. If you can’t do this, make sure to find a quiet space with a comfortable chair and table to use as a desk. I also like adding pot plants to my space for peace, calmness and just prettiness.

Laptop on table

Make sure that you have a good video calling app to keep in touch with colleagues

Video calls are a good way to keep updated with work and have some human interactions at the same time. We might be in isolation, but we still crave human connections. Download a good video calling app and have group chats daily or weekly.

Put limitations on screen time

Your phone will be a huge temptation when working from home. It’s easy to get sucked into social media for hours at a time. Don’t let that be you. Switch off social media notifications to lessen the temptation and only check platforms when you take your breaks. This will save you plenty of time! Similarly, don’t put on a series that you’re into in the background. You will end up watching more TV than working. If you need some background noise, choose something boring to not be distracted.

Do something constructive with your “extra” time at home

Yes, we’re in isolation and working from home, but we have a couple of ‘extra’ hours because of no traffic, going out with friends and family and so forth. Don’t spend all of it napping, however tempting that is. Do something constructive like learning a new skill. Always wanted to learn how to bake, finally get to those e-learning courses you signed up for ages ago, finish a book, learn more about historic figures? Now’s your chance. Use those hours you would have spent in traffic etc and tick those off your list.

Move your body

Believe it or not, but merely getting up, going into the office and attending meetings can put some serious steps on your tracking app. That’s all going to change. It’s important to move, no matter how little, while you’re at home. Download some home workout videos and put time aside for them or challenge yourself to a mini marathon in your garden, on your balcony or even in your home. Get creative but be sure to move. This is not only important for your physical health, but also your mental health.

Home weights and smoothie

Good luck, you will get the hang of this working at home thing quickly.

Please do your bit as a South African and stay home, don’t look for loopholes to leave it. There’s a reason we’re in lock down and we’re trying to save lives. The vulnerable are more important than your jog or coffee date with your best friend. Let’s all do our bit.

Remember to wash your hands often, don’t touch your face (I know this is difficult) and be even kinder than usual to people during this time.

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