Blog entry by Seán Lea
Home-working can be tough. Especially when it’s thrust upon you by forces out of your control. It might, at first, seem an inconvenience, or just a strange environment to consider going about your work, but there are a number of ways by which you can improve your time spent stuck in your house, and ensure that you remain productive and on-track towards your goals.Though not everything will work for everyone and every situation, here are a few of our top tips for staying afloat during a period of home-working:
1. Get your new ‘office’ set up how you like it
You’re out of the office, without all of the usual comforts and prompts which help you function productively throughout your day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get whatever new ‘office space’ you’re now using set up in such a way to facilitate a good and comfortable workday.
Ensure you have everything you need to get through your working hours – whether that is a comfy chair, keyboard, mouse, a clean room, fresh air – whilst making sure that there is a clear line between your work and home lives, despite being at home. Don’t set the room up with items around to distract you; you can enjoy those at the end of the day.
2. Develop new daily routines
Things aren’t the same now that you’re outside of your normal workspace. You won’t be arriving at 9am or leaving at 5pm, every day. Instead, you will rely on your own timekeeping and day-structuring to ensure that you’re on-track and intuitively falling into a pattern of working. If you aren’t restricted by meetings, you may even be able to work different hours to your normal ones, which fit better with periods in which you are most productive. Some people get a lot more done towards the evening, for example.
Again, you should be able to draw a line between the times and places you have defined for work and for relaxing. It may even help to create an imaginary ‘commute’ in the mornings and in the evenings, which psychologically separates you from your work items/areas and other areas. Take 15 minutes to get set up and wind down at the end of the day, ending each period of work or relaxing. Take breaks when you need them, get tasks done when you are feeling stressed out, but make sure not to let these get distractingly long.
3. Stay in touch with your colleagues
If you are part of a wider company, team, or collaborate on projects with others as a freelancer, it is important that you stay connected. The world is more connected than it ever has been, so this is an opportunity to utilise all of the technology that’s available to you, whether that be instant messaging, video calling, or simply texting. Keep in touch.
Ensure they understand how you’re working, what you’re working on, and also how you can help each other. Be precise about meeting times, and when they can contact you – remember, separate the work from relaxation. Keep things in a shared diary or file storage site, if you can, so you can continue to collaborate simply and effectively. With regards to home-working, share what works for you with colleagues, but don’t force them to adhere to different methods – let them find what works for themselves.
4. Limit distractions
Whilst you’re on your ‘job time’, it’s important to remain free of distractions. It’s easy to be side-tracked by various, unproductive activities, when you have your entire house to distract you. Make sure to schedule times for each item, and make to-do-lists, which you can check back on later to see how things are progressing. If you’re not getting as much done as you anticipated, you may need to reassess your approach.
Consider how best you approach work. Some workers like to utilise a focused few hours (2-3, in general) at the beginning of the day, to focus on their most important of all tasks, whilst their brain is at its most productive. However, this varies from person-to-person, and role-to-role.
Keep smartphones away from you, unless when they’re necessary for work activity. There are a number of time management applications which can be used to schedule periods for work, you can track your screen-time on various things through iOS, and there are even applications which can stop you using distracting other applications on your computer or phone.
5. Take some ‘me’ time
At the end of a regular working day, you should be taking the chance to go home, relax and refresh. Working from home is no different. Even though parts of your house have become your workspaces, do not let yourself be consumed by thinking that you are always at work. Once you have used up your allotted work time, or all of your tasks are completed, take time to slow down and refresh your mind.
Make sure you are taking full care of yourself – eating well, sleeping well, exercising, as best you can with the restrictions that are in place. Mental health is crucial in times of fluctuation, and often loneliness, when one is stuck at home or in their room. Keep in touch with friends and make sure you are still managing to find things and do things you enjoy.
What are your favourite home-working techniques?