COVID-19 = challenging times for all. Personally, and professionally.
Disruption is the new norm. Self-isolation has led to millions of new remote workers who are conditioned to the daily commute, the office environment and all that goes with it.
I’ve spent the majority of my career working remotely and enjoy many of the significant advantages that it brings, particularly with a young family where flexibility is a real bonus.
But it takes practice! So, for those not used to home ‘offices’, here are a few of my top tips gained during well over a decade of remote working.
- Be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable
Many are in the same situation. It’s OK if you haven’t settled into a new routine yet. Be patient and be kind to yourself. You’ll get there.
- Organisation is KEY
Your last task of every day should be to plan your next day, whether by am/pm, by the hour or by the projects and tasks that you need to accomplish. This means you’ll be focussed from the minute you log on.
Set yourself a start time, a lunchtime and a finish time, and do your best to stick to it. Would you ever think it was OK to have a lie in when you were supposed to be commuting to the office? Nope! So why would you do it when your office is in your house?
Equally, enjoy shutting down your computer at the end of your day at the time you said you would. Always ‘being on’ doesn’t allow your mind to rest and refresh itself.
- Your ‘office’ is important
Try to ensure you’re working in an area that is comfortable and clutter-free. Where possible, open a window for some fresh air and enjoy sunlight if the sun puts in an appearance.
Add in some background music if this helps with the ambience but be careful that it’s not too distracting.
- Actively commit to your health and wellbeing
While we’re not able to get out and about freely you may find your activity levels drop and your mind starts to wander. It’s important to keep moving.
Build activity into your day. Walk around the house or the garden while you’re on phone calls, do 10 minutes of stair walking or try the squat challenge – we at ReferAll are all trying to do 20 squats every time we have a break for a cuppa!
Better still, why not do some extra activity (press ups, star jumps, burpees) while the kettle is boiling, too? Just don’t sit down for eight hours straight!
Allow for breaks in your daily plan, too. I’d recommend you actively add breaks to your schedule, just don’t have too many.
Keep hydrated with plenty of water. Have a bottle at your desk at all times. Not only will this ensure your body and brain are well hydrated, it’ll also help with the inevitable hunger cravings.
Lastly use video calls where possible. Social isolation can be a lonely place; seeing other people is good for your mental wellbeing. Just be sure to make apologies for dogs, cats, babies, etc that may feature throughout the call!
- Focus, focus, focus
A distraction-free environment is really important if you’re to be productive.
Don’t leave the TV on in the background and definitely don’t leave your phone within reach or the temptation of social media may well get the better of you.
Try working in blocks of time, for example 45 minutes, so you know how long you need to remain focused for at a time. Then stick to them. When a block is finished take five minutes to stand up, do some exercise and take a drink of water.
Ironically, I’m struggling with focus as my kids are now sharing my ‘office’ … but I’m getting comfortable being uncomfortable. I’m using my breaks to check in on their home learning and I’m trying where possible to coordinate my schedule with setting them new tasks to do.
Lunchtime is problematic though – the staff canteen is a bit busier than normal these days!