Setting up a dedicated workspace is highly recommended if you can do it and even more so when you have others at home with you. Even in a small or shared space try to designate one area as the workspace area with the intention that it is only for work. If possible, set this up away from distractions like the TV (or even the kitchen area so you don’t get tempted). Get everything you need for your work session together before you start.
Think about the ergonomics of your space. If you don’t have a good office chair and desk, use cushions, a box at your feet etc for good posture alignment.
It is so easy to blur the lines between work and home life when working from home. While this may seem easy to start with concentration is often impacted and productivity goes down. It is better to get your home chores done first – especially those ones that will bother you if you look at them – does that cabinet need dusting, is the laundry piling up? Either get the chores out of site or attend to them first so you have the mind space to concentrate on the job.
It can be really useful to set up a daily routine. Try getting out of your pyjamas, have breakfast away from your work space. Sometimes it helps to take a morning walk before work as if you were walking to work. Similar routines are recommended at the end of the day. Maybe another walk, a bike ride after you have closed down all of your devices.
Some people like to follow their normal work day routine – getting up at the same time, eating breakfast, getting dressed etc. If that is important to you then stick to that routine. Others may be able to be a little more flexible but be careful this is not the point where the work and home time balance is blurred.
Do realise you will have the luxury of a little extra time to the day especially as you won’t be travelling to and from the workplace. Use that ‘commute’ time wisely for some self-care time – maybe a little reflection time, a walk in the fresh air, maybe a little meditation. Most importantly when your usual work commitments stop, stop working. Shut your computer down, no more email checking and enjoy usual home time life. Try to stick to normal sleep and eating patterns.
Get outside, have a break, stay connected
Because you aren’t accessing the outside that same as you would have if commuting, make time for those breaks you might have taken to get coffee. Get outside even for a short period several times a day. Green space is critical when in lock down especially for your mental health.
Human interaction matters too. Think about the intellectual conversations you have with colleagues. If you’d have a break with a colleague heading to the local coffee shop, then plan that into your day. Zoom time coffee meetings can be fun where the conversation is as it might normally be outside the office.
Check in with each other, if you are a manager check in with your staff, let them know how much you appreciate the efforts they are making to adjust.
Support each other at this time. If you are struggling, talk with others about this. Remember, your colleagues quite probably feel the same as you. Check in often and share strategies. Make time to socialise virtually – schedule in an online coffee break or plan Friday online get-togethers.
Setting people boundaries
Setting the work time at home as we have said above is important but also have a conversation with your family so everyone understands work time and family time clearly.
Being at home to family might feel like you are on holiday with them. Help them understand what you are required to do. Balance out those times.
Let them know of you need a quiet space to attend an online meeting and ask for that time. But do remember to switch off so work doesn’t impinge on family time and vice versa.
Be Kind to you
Remember this is an unusual time and life will not feel normal even though you are putting a lot of effort into trying to maintain some normality. Be kind to yourself. Take regular mindful breaks. Try the following ‘mini mindfulness’ practices (https://www.myob.com/au/blog/working-from-home-wellbeing-tips/), with the aim of performing one at least once per hour of your work day
- S = Stop – what you’re doing, put things down for a moment, push your chair away from your desk
- T = Take – take a few deep breaths
- O = Observe – observe your experience just as it is, your thoughts, emotions, your body, try to be curious and non-judgemental about your experience
- P = Proceed – proceed with something that will support you in the moment (perhaps stretching, rubbing your shoulders, or having a cup of tea)
Acknowledge that productivity levels may not be the same. Be realistic about what you expect from yourself given the circumstances and then relax when you have done what you can reasonably do. Keep safe, be kind, and remember how much you matter. What do you do to manage? Share your strategies with us.