These simple but effective work from home tips will help you get more done with less stress.
If you have to work remotely or suddenly find you’re home-based, these suggestions will help you put the foundations in place.
More people are now having to transition to homeworking due to the Coronavirus. These tips look at how to protect your mental health, help you with scheduling, your wellbeing, movement and working around your family.
To help you with your wellbeing and productivity, we look at:
- A productive morning routine
- Tips for scheduling your day
- Setting up a home workspace
- Using opportunities to move and exercise
- Setting boundaries with family
- Working with children at home
- Avoiding distractions
Editor of The Homeworker magazine, Louise Goss shares her thoughts on managing the work from home lifestyle.
Video can also be viewed here.
If working from home has been more forced upon you, rather than a choice or part of your regular routine, these suggestions are worth considering.
There are benefits but also challenges to working from home. We generally have fewer distractions from colleagues and impromptu or unnecessary meetings. But we may have distractions at home, from family, housework, and reminders of life outside of work.
Get dressed for work
Get up and out of the pyjamas. One of the upsides to homeworking is being able to work in comfort and now and again, there is the perk of being able to stay in your cosy pjs. However, longterm, it is important to shift yourself into a professional mindset. This is difficult when you are sat in the clothes you went to bed in. Prepare yourself for the day and for work, especially if you are on lots of video calls. You may not need to don the suit and tie to feel ready but for some, this is a good boundary and an effective way to feel that you are working. Here is more on why to get out of the pyjamas.
Get a schedule and structure
One of the best work from home tips is around giving yourself structure and routine. It might include setting your alarm and getting up as normal. While you don’t need to spend time commuting, you can use that time to be productive, have a workout or start your day earlier. It also means you don’t slip out of your work routine and get tempted to keep hitting snooze.
Try to create a sense of routine. It can be helpful, if you are used to office working, to keep to a similar routine. Schedule a lunch break, and your meetings as normal. Set a time to clock off. But also start to embrace the increased flexibility that allows you to work around your life a little more. As you get used to working from home, you can enjoy a walk in your day, or take a quick ten minutes to do some chores that would otherwise eat into your evenings.
Have time blocks in your day so you get done what you need to get done. Time blocking prevents you from drifting hour to hour and gives you a purpose and goal to work towards during each period.
Create a dedicated office space.
While it is not always possible to have a separate home office, try to create a dedicated workspace. It is ideal to be able to close the door on your work area so you really switch off, but there are lots of creative ways you can still create a separate space.
A lot of people work from the kitchen table or dining table, or even a living room. Using decorating techniques, dividers or other furnishings, you can start to zone off a space for your desk.
Part of the joy in homeworking is customising your work area. But it can be helpful to keep this professional and minimise distractions from clutter and household items.
If you are using a shared living space in your house, try to keep your work as confined as possible so it doesn’t spill into other parts of the home. Remember it is just as important to keep spaces just for living and relaxing.
We have lots of ideas for zoning and creating workspaces on a budget in our magazines.
Step away from the screen
Try to limit your screen time. When working from home, you will be on your screen a lot. There are more virtual meetings, and these can become draining and add to feelings of fatigue.
Take regular breaks away from screen, try not to let your schedule fill with back to back zoom calls. Get into the fresh air as much as possible.
Give yourself a commute
Not commuting is a great time-saver, and can lessen those stress levels before a day at work. However, it can help to separate your mind from waking and being at home to then getting into work mode.
Many people find it useful to mimic a commute, while making it an enjoyable and productive part of their day. You can create your own morning routine with a ‘commute’ included. This could be a simple dog walk or exercise outdoors. It is very beneficial to get fresh air in your lungs, and daylight in the eyes. When you walk through the door again, your work day starts.
Read the article on setting your circadian rhythm and working with your natural biorhythms in issue 5.
Take regular movement breaks.
We know moving is important, especially as we live increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
If you are not a regular homeworker, you may not have an ergonomic setup or sit stand desk. In this case, it is important to move at least every hour.
Make your break times a time to get up, walk about, stretch, or even do some squats and lunges. Exercise snacking is a great way to keep yourself active.
Walking meetings are also effective at adding movement while you walk. Often you can also think and process better compared to sitting still.
The Productivity Series: A mini series of videos to help you supercharge your productivity without burning out. Members of our Subscribers lounge can access these videos for free inside the Ten Minute Tea Breaks.
Spend time with other people
One pitfall to homeworking is the solitary nature of the work. There are things you can do to prevent those feelings of loneliness. You need to be proactive in reaching out and checking in. It might be for your benefit or to check up on colleagues or friends.
Work from home also means the freedom to work from anywhere (to an extent). Coworking venues can be places to connect with others and establish a community outside of your home. COnnecting with a mentor can also be helpful, as well as remembering to keep in touch with friends. Pick up the phone, and schedule face to face time as well.
If you want regular insights and expert knowledge on being more productive and performing well at home, The Homeworker magazine is an ideal resource.
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About the author
Louise is an award-winning journalist and speaker who focuses on working from home, remote work and wellbeing. She is the founder of The Homeworker, which is dedicated to helping you thrive when you work from home. The Homeworker publishes articles that are designed to keep you healthy, happy, fulfilled, and more productive in work and life.