Working from Home
We all love being at home after working all day and for most people the weekends are something to look forward to. Being in your own space. Enjoying the environment you have created with your hard earned cash. There is always something to we enjoy doing (or even not doing!) while we are at home away from work.
With Covid 19 encroaching on our sunburnt country, we are now following directives from our government. Self-isolate, work from home where we can, spend more time in our homes, isolate from groups of people and only leave your home for necessary appointment. All so that this virus has no way of spreading.
For some, this will feel like a blessing and will be easy. For others, it might feel as though your freedom has been ripped from you, that you are unable to escape your walls.
For all people who are realigning their lives to work from home, you may feel disorientated, out of control or out of routine which can lead to increased feelings of stress and anxiety. All of these emotions are just the personal reactions in relation to being at home. On top of all of this there is the potential stress and anxiety we might be experiencing from feeling the turmoil that our country is in….and the world at large.
This adaptation to working from home can take time.
But not for you. Not right now. You do not have time to adapt.
You need to be reactive and make the change as swiftly as possible right now - for your benefit and for the health and safety of others.
I know too well the pleasure and the pain of working from home. Having done so for the past 7 years, I know how long to can take to adapt. Seriously, for the first 6 months my floors and clothes had never been so clean!!
So within this article, I will share with you some hints, tips and strategies to help you to settle into your home work/life throughout this period to get you working from your home as seamlessly as possible. The good news is, you can do it!
Setting up a work space in your home
No matter what type of home you live in, a unit, house, or shared accommodation – it will be important to designate an area for your work space. This will also help you to tune into work more effectively as you “step” into this space either physically or mentally.
- Choose an area in the house with the least amount of foot traffic. Some ideas include:
- Converting a spare room to a working office
- Converting a garage to a working office
- Creating a space in one area of a living room or lounge area.
- Some people may even need to set up a work space in their bedroom.
- Dividing off space
- This can be great for creating a “walking into work” feel each day.
- Do you have a divider or screen that you can use to create privacy or block your office from view when you are relaxing?
- If not, you can create one with a portable clothes rack or get creative hanging a sheet from one wall to the next (with 3M hooks of course) – maybe use some indoor plants to create a wall. Book shelves can also make great room dividers.
- Setting up your bedroom as an office? You can make this space work. Here are a couple of ideas for you!
- You may need to move your bed for the time being to give you a bit more space.
- Do you have a mirrored robe? I have been known to stick up sheer curtains across mirrored robes with 3M hooks so that there is no reflection. You might also consider blue taking cardboard if it bothers you as much as it did me! With a curtain, it can be drawn during work hours and then opened during non-work hours.
- Consider if you are doing video calls – what your colleagues might be seeing the background. Make sure personal items are put away. No one needs to see your underwear on your bed! I did see a great gimmick the other day where a guy stuck a photo of a luxury room behind him so that people thought he lived in a million dollar house! Great manifesting concept!!
- If you don’t have one already, get a clothes hamper to put your clothes in – it is harder to work in a messy space.
- Consider having a spare throw or bedspread that you can place over your bed at the beginning of a “work” day. This can also help to define your space as a work space. At the end of your work day, remove the cover so it feels like your bedroom again.
- Hooks on the backs of doors can work well for bathrobes or hanging an organiser for pens/paper / office equipment – YouTube is great for getting creative with this.
- Cover your computer lights at night. This might be as simple as shoe box with sections cut out of it to cover power boards that light up. Please be mindful of what you put over power boards as you do not want them to overheat. The idea here is to have something that looks like a train tunnel that will hide the lights so that you do not see them flickering at night and keeping you up.
- Make sure before you go to bed that all technology is shut down so that you get a good nights’ sleep.
- Decide if you will be having coffee/tea in your room during work hours and create a space to allow this on your work station. This could look like a small tray to place cups on to ensure cups do not spill in your bedroom. I would also encourage you not to eat in your bedroom space. Have regular set breaks to get out of your room.
- Make sure you have access to power for all your technology
- You also want to ensure that you do not have extension or power leads running everywhere as this can become a trip hazard over time – or just look unsightly.
- You may also want to check what your back ground setting looks like if you are video conferencing with colleagues! Remember the example above where the guy put up a photo of a luxury room so his colleagues thought he lived in an expensive house?! Get creative with this and have some fun!
- Make sure that your work station is ergonomically set up.
- You still need to be aware of your posture and how you are sitting throughout the day so that you do not end up tired and sore.
- This includes computer heights and distance as well as the chair that you sit on
- This would also include good lighting. As we move into winter, you will want to ensure that you have good lighting set up in you work space to protect your eyesight.
- Have access to all the resources that you will need
- Laptop, PC, diary, headphones, mouse pad, keyboard, stationery including pens, sticky notes, stapler, etc.… all the things that you would normally use from your work space at work.
- You may also consider using an old TV monitor or PC monitor to create two screens for yourself (there are some great clips on YouTube to show you have to set this up.
Preparing Food to have during work time at home
For some, this may seem really obvious or not important. From my experience, when I first working at home, I would eat a lot more during the day. Why? Because I could and the fridge and cupboard where so close and so convenient! Also, there was no one to monitor what I was eating. Totally awesome right? Well, not after three months when you have stacked on the kilos!!! Lol!
- Prep the food you will have during work hours.
- If you usually take lunch to work, still make your lunch to have during the day.
- Prepare all your snacks that you would normally have at work.
- Have access to enough water for the day. This is one thing to really keep an eye on. I keep a 1.5 litre of water in my office to remind me to drink water. In an office we often have access to a water cooler or like and being without this at home it is easy to forget to drink enough water. Have a water bottle in your home workspace and make sure that you fill it throughout the day.
- Tea and coffee? You may benefit from choosing a mug in the house and making this your “work from home” coffee cup – you know – like the one you have in your office that is just yours?! This creates a feeling of “work time” for you. Have coffee / tea etc. out on the bench so that you do not need to open a cupboard and be tempted by your groceries!!!
- Also you might still use Tupperware rather than your home crockery to make it feel like you have brought your lunch from home!
- You might also consider doing some meal planning so that you know what you will be cooking for dinner or having for breakfast each morning. This will help you stay on track with good eating throughout the day.
- Stop for food as this will fuel your body and keep your mind alert. It is easy to want to skip meals while working from home. Staying in a routine with set meal times will serve you well into the future.
The more prepared you are with your food, the easier this will be for you throughout the day. You will not find yourself being called to your fridge or cupboard as you know what you have allocated to yourself for the day.
What should I wear?
One of the bonuses of working from home is you get to choose what you want to wear! There may be a couple of hints and tips for you here as well!
- It is great to wear relaxed clothes – remember that this can impact your output. If you are usually dressed in corporate attire, wearing casual clothes can throw you off your game. So you might opt for smart casual.
- If you are still running video calls, meetings, webinars – please do your hair and your makeup! It is the same as being face to face.
- The same goes for being braless, pyjamas, singlet tops where everything is kinda hanging out – remember that people can still see you when you are on video calls. Be respectful to yourself and to your colleagues and dress appropriately.
- To cheat a bit, you can get away with dressing your top half professionally and wearing shorts, leggings or tracky pants – just don’t get up while you are on video!
- Still put on your favourite jewellery and even perfume. It can make you feel like you are in “business” mode.
- Colours and patterns matter.
- Choose colours that make you feel bright and alert!
- Darker colours and greys can impact your mood, so choose bright colours.
- Patterns – okay. So if you have never notice before, check out what your news readers, reporters and presenters on TV wear. They are usually solid or basic colours – no patterns. Why? So that you are not distracted by the patterns. Having trained TV presenters before, one of the first things I got to share with people is that wearing patterns can distract your audience or even make their eyes go a bit funny. Imagine someone wearing black and white strips and then moving around in front of you. It can make your eyes sore and distract you as the pixels on TV’s and PC’s can distort the patterns. Less detailed patterns the better when you are on video conference.
- Shoes – if they feel good, wear them. If not, don’t! I prefer barefoot in my home and often when I am talking with you via video, I will be barefoot.
Be smart with your clothes choices. Choose clothing that makes you feel like you are in work mode as this will help with your mindset and productivity. It can also make you feel confident and empowered. Be mindful of being on video calls and what your colleagues will be seeing!
Creating a routine for your new work space
Think about this for a moment. When you are going to work, you have a definite routine. It might go something like this:
Get up, have a shower, get dressed, have breakfast, grab your bag, make your way to the office, grab a coffee, have a chat with colleagues, settle into your morning, think about lunch etc.…
I am sure that you could flesh this out into greater detail including making / not making the bed, dressing children, brushing teeth, making lunch, check your phone etc.….
Now that you are at home, you are not under the same time constraints to get out the door. Your routine will be different. You may find yourself sleeping in, not making the bed (because you will do it later) or skipping breakfast because you can now eat when you want…..
The key here is to develop a routine that feels similar to what you have known yet comfortable for you while working from home.
It is about maintaining a routine so that when you back into “regular” daily life, you will struggle less.
If we choose to sleep in, eat everything, not step outside, we will end up less focused, less productive, lazy, vitamin D deficient and potentially fat!
Not only that, it will make it harder to get back into “regular” daily life again when all this turmoil is over.
- Create a schedule for yourself.
- You can do this with a calendar or a template or even in a word document.
- Include start time, morning tea, afternoon tea and finishing time.
- Remember to put in stretch times to give you a break from your work space.
- Also remember to get some sunshine during the day. I often have lunch outside on my deck so that I am in the fresh air and sunshine catching some Vitamin D.
Having a schedule will help to keep you in “work” routine. This will help your productivity and also be of value when we all return to offices in the future.
How to minimise interruptions
In an office space, we usually receive an orientation of the office and where we will be sitting. There are often expectations – rules – that are created for the office environment and clear expectations are usually provided. When this has not happened, it is almost a silent understanding between co-workers. For example, no hot food at work stations as the smell can impact fellow workers.
- Be clear with everyone in the house about your work space operating hours. For example:
- "I will be working in space between 9am and 5pm and cannot be interrupted."
- "I will still read text messages during this time if you need to communicate with me."
- Be mindful of each other if you are working from the same space
- If a couple of you are working from the same space, agree on your start times so that you are not interrupting each other.
- Set boundaries with each other
- How to communicate
- When to communicate
- If one person makes a lot of calls, maybe the other person can choose to wear headphones.
- The clearer you get with expectations and boundaries, the easier this will be.
- Have set breaks where you can come together like morning / afternoon tea or lunch. You can use this time to discuss other non-related work issues
By having clear communication and expectations with each other, you will minimise interruptions!
What about house chores while working from home?
As I stated above, when I first started working from home, I had the cleanest floors and laundry. Because I was at home, I started to see all the things I had not done in my down time and started to do these during “work” hours.
My answer to this now is simple – no to house chores during work hours. I never did this while I was at an office and working from home is no different.
- No to laundry –run laundry outside of business hours as it is cheaper.
- No to doing the floors – do this before or after business hours.
- No to prepping dinner!!! You wouldn’t do this while you were at work! Pre-plan your meals so you are organised with this and not tempted to do this mid-afternoon.
- No to gardening during work hours!!! (I must admit that I got sucked into this for a while as well when I started working from home!)
- Do keep your bathroom, wash areas and toilet clean.
- Do keep hand washing stations clean.
- Do keep your works station clean.
Remember that you would not be doing household chores if you were in an office and even though it seems convenient, this can be a massive distraction and also put more pressure on you as you try to control too much. Save your energy. Do household chores during non-work times.
I am soooooo good at procrastinating! Not so much now. My output has increased tenfold because I have learned not to procrastinate!
Here are some tips for you. Knowing what you want to achieve and what outcomes you are expecting from yourself will help keep you on track.
- Create a list of all the work you want to get through. You can break these tasks into weekly and then daily.
- Be clear on your priorities each day – an order of the most important things to do
- Can’t wrap your head around a spreadsheet? (this is working with the left hand side of your brain) Switch to a different task that is less detailed such as calling a colleague (right hand side of the brain) and then come back to the spreadsheet fresh.
- Make sure that when you are switching tasks that they are still work related! E.g.: not doing the laundry!
- Drink water
- Have a stretch break
- I always have at least 3 major projects on the boil so I can switch from creative to detail when I need to.
- Think about what you would do if you were in the office to help with procrastination!
- Play some music in the background if this helps you to focus - i often have the radio in the background to keep me focused.
When you are focused on your output – what you want to achieve, you will find that you have less procrastination moments.
- We need to be working from home now and have to adapt quickly.
- Setting up your work space – create an area that is just for “working from home”.
- Preparing Food – prep food that you would normally take to your office.
- What should I wear – dress for success (and for video conferencing!)
- Creating a routine – Create a clear “working from home” routine so you stay focused.
- How to minimise interruptions – set clear expectations with each other.
- What about household Chores – No to house chores during business hours.
- Procrastination Busters – have different work activities on the go so you can switch between them to reduce procrastination.
- Final Note
- Activity – Creating a “going to work” routine.
You are not alone. We are all in this together.
Remember to stay connected “virtually” with family, friends and colleagues.
We can continue to work and connect with each other.
Be gentle and kind to yourself and to each other throughout this time.
Activity – Create Your “Going to Work” Routine
Create a NEW routine for yourself.
- Write down all the things you normally do to get ready to go to work.
- Make this list as detailed as you can.
- Next, create a new routine for yourself for while you are working from home.
- You may be surprised to see that these two lists might look very similar!
|Here is a sample routine / schedule I have drawn up to share with you.
Extra insights for you!
Wake up and think of 5 thinks I appreciate in my life.
· Set a wake up alarm if you need to.
· Follow your current work routine so that when you get back into work after all of this turmoil, you will not struggle with changing your routine.
Ground and protect myself for the day
· This is important for light workers and for people who pick up other people’s energy.
· You might choose meditation here as well
Get out of bed, toilet stop, make bed, change into gym gear
· List your initial routine from when your feet hit the floor in your room.
30 minutes of cardio exercise in my backyard
· This one can be a challenge in cooler months, but if we are not doing exercise at home, we are eating and not moving – this can cause us to gain excess weight.
Make and eat a healthy breakfast
· Working from home, if you have a great breakfast, your brain will function better!
· Eat well!
Prep all my food for the day. Snacks and lunch.
· This is food that you would normally take to work so that you are not looking for other snacks throughout the day.
· This can also help with portion control and knowing what you are eating!
Shower and dress for the day.
· Wearing comfy clothes can be good.
· Choosing clothes that you feel professional in can also enhance your state of mind.
· Remember if you are video conferencing, you may still want to do your hair and makeup!
Work / Action time
· Make a coffee and take it to your make shift workstation.
· This is the beginning of your “office” hours or work time.
Catch up with a colleague via phone, text or video
· Mornings are a great time to catch up with people. To check in with them, let them know that you are online and it helps you to feel connected with other people.
Morning tea break
· Only eat the snacks you prepared
· It can be really tempting to eat everything in the house – just because you can!
· It’s all in the planning and preparing
Work / Action time
· Getting on with your day without moving about your home or being distracted.
· E.g.: It’s a “no” to putting the laundry on at this time!! You wouldn’t do this while you were at work normally – so do not start this now!!
· Make sure that you eat the lunch that you prepared this morning!
· I would encourage you to eat outdoors where you can to make sure you are still getting some Vitamin D and fresh air.
Work / Action time
· More work time
· Still no to house chores!!
Afternoon tea break
· Only eat the snacks you prepared
· A cup of tea can be refreshing at this time of the day.
Work / Action time
· Back into work mode again.
Knock off time!
· Always remember to have a “Finish work” time.
· From home it is too easy to keep working and this can lead to burnout.