Working from home! Like it or loathe it, chances are you’re going to be doing a heck of a lot more of it over the coming weeks and months (because coronavirus). But far from being something to dread, there’s a lot about your new (temporary!) reality that you could learn to love with your whole heart.
How well you’ll take to working from home depends a bit on your personality type and living situation. Introverts might find it easier than extroverts, but they also might not. And those who live with others might find it a bit easier than those who live alone, but they also might not.
No matter your personal situation, there are plenty of things you can do to make this whole thing work for you. Here are, in no particular order, are some of those things.
1. Get your at-home routine dialled from day one
Disruption of routine – even a routine that you don’t particularly like – can be unsettling. Knowing exactly what you’re going to do every day, even if it’s dull as mud, provides a level of comfort that’s easy to take for granted. So as you adjust to a slightly different life at home, it’s important to establish a routine as early as possible.
Whether you get up and have a shower and eat breakfast straightaway, then read for a bit before opening the laptop, or get up, go for a run, then come back and get ready for work – just find something that works for you. Also, for the love of god, put on some clothes. You will get more done, and feel more ‘at work’. Srsly.
Bonus tip: Don’t completely turn off your alarm and sleep in just because you don’t have to go into the office. Try and start your day at the same time every day – even if it is a little later than usual. You’ll feel better for it.
2. Maximise your time
Don’t wake up and immediately check your emails. If you usually start work at 9am and finish at 5pm in the office, stick to the same timeframe at home. Do this, and you’ll find you’ll have a lot more time for yourself. No commute = more time for you.
It can feel a little daunting at first, but think of all the things you’ve always wished you had a little more time for, then … actually do them. Listen to podcasts, write more, read more, exercise more, call your family, do some yoga, learn how to play chess, become an origami expert. The world is literally your oyster, and you now have more time than ever to explore it.
Bonus tip: Get dressed for work (even if it’s not in your ‘going to work’ clothes), and change into at-home clothes when you’ve finished work for the day. It’ll help you separate work life from home life, which is VERY important.
3. Get tooled up
You don’t need to go bananas when it comes to setting up a small home office, but a few additions could help. The best advice would be to try and mimic whatever set-up you use at work. If you use a second screen, get a second screen. If you use an external keyboard or mouse, consider investing in those too. Headphones work wonders if you have kids or noisy housemates running around the place (the more noise they cancel, the better). A reliable internet connection might help too.
Bonus tip: If there’s a wet room (kitchen/bathroom/toilet) between your desk and your modem/router, your signal strength will be compromised (possibly even unusable). You can get around this by picking up a range extender and plugging it in halfway between your laptop and the modem. You’re welcome.
4. Get smart (and zen) with your set-up
Don’t just slouch over your laptop on the sofa all day. Set up in a nice, preferably well-lit part of the house, somewhere you can still get a good wi-fi signal, and make sure your situation is ergonomic-ish. Make sure you have a comfortable chair, that your screen is at the right height (eye-level), and your mouse and keyboard are suitable for long-term use. RSI is no joke, kids.
Bonus tip: Keep your desk tidy, and put a small plant on it. Plants are good. Fact.
5. Keep in touch
Bonus tip: Facebook Messenger’s video call function has a bunch of games built-in to it. (Don’t tell the boss). Your email activity might carry on as normal, but face time is still important. Be sure to video call your colleagues every now and then and check in how they’re doing (and that they’re wearing clothes and have eaten). It doesn’t have to be work related, either. Just shoot the breeze, have a coffee, do whatever you usually do at work, just via video.
Bonus tip: Facebook Messenger’s video call function has a bunch of games built-in to it. (Don’t tell the boss).
6. Divvy up the kids
If you and your partner are trying to make this whole thing work with kids on the scene, the only logical option is to divide and conquer. Work it in shifts – dad has the kids for a couple of hours while mum works, then mum and so on. You need to set clear parameters so both parents can get work done, and so the kids aren’t left to tear the house to shreds. In very related news, a new series of Bluey just came out.
Bonus tip: Did we mention noise-cancelling headphones already?
7. Manage your time wisely
It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to sit down, on your own, and work for eight hours straight. The trick is to find a work routine that works for you. Maybe that means doing all of your most brain-intensive work first thing, and rifling off a few emails in the afternoon. Or breaking the day up into one- or two-hour blocks of focused productivity. Maybe you keep all meetings to Monday/Tuesday and use the rest of the week for actual work. Whatever it is, find a balance that works for you. We all work differently, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it.
Bonus tip: If self-discipline is an issue, the 1Focus app allows you to block certain websites and apps for a set period of time, so you can focus without distraction.
No one likes laggy internet, especially while you’re working from home. Check out our tips to speed up your service here.