Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Tips for Staying Sane While Working From Home

 

For many, working from home is the dream.

 
I'm writing this blog post sat on the sofa in my pyjamas. It's ten past three in the afternoon, it's raining outside and the Great British Bake Off is playing in the background. If you'd have told me this time last year that I'd spend most of my following working days commuting between the kitchen table and the sofa, with endless episodes of Friends and Gogglebox filling in background noise while I work from my laptop, I'd have laughed. I think we all would have, right? 

But today, this is the norm. No longer do I wake up and change into a work-appropriate outfit; instead, I change into more comfy clothes (I'm talking onesies, hoodies, Beauty and the Beast pyjama sets...). Gone are the days of packing tupperware boxes with granola and yoghurt and couscous salads the night before; instead, I find myself dancing round the kitchen making garlic mushrooms on sourdough toast at 11am. No longer do I spend up to three hours on a bus every single day; instead, my commute consists of getting out of bed, into the shower and then down into the living room for a day of work. 

For me personally, working from home has been pretty dreamy. I've cut out hours of pointless commuting every day, I can fit my life around flexible working hours, I'm allowed to put Bridget Jones on while I write (because apparently that's not appropriate in an office) and I have access to a full fridge of snacks at all times. 

But... is it really substantial? 

 
Are you really working to your best ability when you haven't seen your team in weeks? Can you really be as creative as you are when you're in the office surrounded by other creative minds? Is this going to go on forever?

The truth is, working from home can be fantastic, but you've got to check in with yourself and your work ethic every so often. Each and every one of us, at one point or another, is going to hit a wall. You may have already a hit a wall, you may have hit several, or you might not quite have run into one yet. 
 
But in order to make working from home feasable, productive, creative and enjoyable, it's important to adapt - and sadly, adapting doesn't quite mean cooking garlic mushrooms on toast at 11am instead of eating granola and yoghurt in the office at 8.30am. It means creating a productive space in your own home, whatever your version of a 'productive space' is (I promise I won't judge you if it's on the sofa with Friends on in the background).

As the government have recently told office workers to work from home again, I thought I'd share some tips on staying sane while working from home. I, like most of the country, have been working from home since March and it's safe to say there's been some real trial and error moments. While different working methods work for different people, here are some things that have helped me stay sane along the way. 

Working From Home

 

1. Invest in a chair that supports your back 

 

For the first month or so of working from home, I avoided investing in a supportive chair simply because I thought it would all be over soon and we'd all be back in the office in no time. However, this was clearly not the case. Investing in an office chair with proper back support was one of the best decisions I made for my working from home life. I still know people who haven't invested in a proper chair and they've gone on to struggle with back problems. 

Invest in a good chair for your back. I promise you it will make all the difference. Decent office chairs with the right back support can be expensive, so it's always worth asking your office if they can help out too. Many workplaces will let you take a chair home or even help you out with buying a new one.
 

2. Set yourself targets throughout the day 

 

You likely have daily or weekly targets that need to met in your job, but I've found that setting myself small individual targets throughout the day can really help motivate me. I'm a content writer, so I aim to write a certain amount of words by 11am. Once I've done this, I can take a bit of time to do something else - whether it's cooking up a late breakfast or dipping into a magazine. I then set myself another target for 2pm. Once this is done, I can do some more stuff that breaks up the day. Splitting up your day into small sections makes it easier to manage working from home. 

3. Leave home at least once every day

 

Sitting at home all day isn't good for anyone. Now that your home is also your work environment, it's important to take a break from it. Not all of us have the luxury of a separate office space or study in our home; in fact, if you're like me, the kitchen table is your new office. 
 
Get yourself out at least once a day. Even if you have no plans for the evening, go for a quick walk. A breath of fresh air can really clear your head and help you wind down after a day of work.

4. Stay connected with colleagues 

 

One thing that has really helped me is staying connected with colleagues. I'm fortunate in the sense that some of my colleagues have become good friends of mine over the years, but staying connected with my team and checking in regularly is key. The majority of workplaces will encourage this; whether it's a video meeting in the morning, a call in the afternoon or a catch up over Zoom every Friday, they want you to stay connected and share ideas. 
 
But go out of your way to stay connected too.  If you're struggling for ideas or your creativity levels are low, check in with your team and get some brain storms going. Ask people what projects they're working on and if they need any help. Remember the person you used to sit next to in the office? Ask them how they're doing. 

5. Pick a definitive finishing time each day 


Back in the office, there would be days when you'd need to stay a little later to get everything done. But then you could leave the stress of work in the office and head home (or to the pub... those were the days). When you're working from home, it's difficult to leave the stress of work in the office, because your home is the office. 
 
Set a definitive finishing time each day and stick to it. If you choose 5pm, make sure you clock off and unwind at 5pm. Don't spend nine hours relaxing and working at a slow pace. Instead, aim for a productive six (or whatever works for you) and log off when your finishing time arrives. 

Shutting your laptop down and separating yourself from work can be difficult when your laptop is still sat on the table, but try to treat it like the office. Once you're done for the day, you're done. 
 

Do you enjoy working from home? What are your top tips?

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15 comments

  1. These are such helpful tips! I usually work from home anyway, but my husband has started to since the pandemic started and he could do with taking some of these tips onboard :)

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  2. Great tips for working from home, the main one is have a starting time and finishing time and stick to them

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  3. These sound like some great tips - I am so glad I can work from home as it gives me something to do and I feel more productive and I couldn't work a 9-5 (or any other timed shift).

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  4. This is a great post with really great advice. I am back in the office full time now but I do miss the home working life!

    I have to say though I was very good and made sure I got dressed each day, had a lunch break and went out once a day. Although i did work way more hours than normal!!

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  5. 💯💯💯
    I love working from home, but it definitely has its drawbacks. This helps keep me from getting into a rut.

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  6. I agree, a start and end time would really help define the "work ay", so everything doesn't run into each other. It is nice not having to get dressed but on the other hand, sometimes there are days where I don't get dressed LOL.

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  7. I have been working from home for years, but also juggle this with being an unpaid full time carer - it is SO hard! But I wouldnt be able to go out to work due to my caring role so am thankful for being able to earn a small income at home at least.

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  8. I am working from home most of the time now. Prior to the lockdown, I was working from coffee shops and co-working spaces. I have kinda got used to it now, I've got my routine sorted and I'm surprised how much I save on coffee, sandwiches and impulse buys.

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  9. I had to smile when I read your post as a lot of single people are enjoying working from home in their PJs and not communiting as they used to. I do agree with setting a definitive finishing time as most people will end up working longer hours than they would have

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  10. I totally agree as much as working from home sounds dreamy , you do have to be disciplined and have a routine to keeps things normal .

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  11. I work from home all the time, regardless of lockdown - and a comfy chair is a must! I do struggle with setting working hours though.

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  12. My dream was to work for home but I found it really lonely and do a mixture of both to get a happy medium

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  13. I think I’d enjoy working from home but I’d definitely need to get out through the day too as I’d miss the social interaction.

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  14. There is some really sound and sensible advice. I agree targets are important and also a good chair for sure xx

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  15. These are great ways to stay on track while working from home. I, too, write a lot from the sofa with Friends on in the background.

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