01 May Organising Your Day When Working From Home
Working from home can be great. And if your normal job had you working in an office every day, then this new phase of home working might have gotten you pretty excited at first. But in week 6 of lockdown, it might start feeling a bit harder. There’s no commute to help you organise your thoughts and get you into the headspace to work, or any reverse commute to help you decompress between work and home. No lunch with co-workers and no one to tell you what job takes the highest priority. And along with that, there’s a lack of structure in your day, which can seriously impact your productivity. All in all, you might be left feeling like you don’t know what day of the week it is anymore, let alone how to organise your day.
Of course, this isn’t a normal time for anyone, and if you have a family then not only are you trying to adjust to working from home, but your partner probably is as well, and you’re both trying to juggle looking after the kids. So rather than using this blog as a solid structure, we recommend using it as a starting point, and customising your routine so that it works for everyone in your home.
Design A New Routine
In your ‘old’ life, you will have had a fairly predictable routine. From the moment you woke up in the morning, you would fall into a pattern of how you got ready, had breakfast and went to work. Then you will have had a routine while at work, like when you took breaks, when you scheduled meetings or when you tackled certain types of work. And then another routine for when you get home. Human beings are creatures of habit, and routines are good for us, so even if you didn’t consciously create your routine, you did have one. And now you have to work from home, and stay at home outside work hours, all of that comfort and routine is gone. Honestly, it’s that that’s thrown a lot of people through a loop over the last few weeks as they struggle to adapt.
So take control. Sit down and establish a new, temporary routine for the new normal. We recommend you do this as a group activity with anyone else you’re sharing the house with, so that you can all understand what the routine will be and make sure it works for everyone. In terms of work, we recommend starting the day as you would if you were in an office; get up early, get dressed (properly, not just PJ’s or yoga pants) and try to avoid distractions once you sit down to work. Whether you just started working from home or you’ve been doing it for years, take a few weeks to determine the best rhythm and break times for you during the day. Whatever routine works for you, make sure you write it into a schedule and stick to it. And remember to give yourself permission for downtime – you’re only human after all!
Create A Proper Workspace
We’ve seen a lot of people over the last few weeks talking about how they’re now working from the sofa, the dining table or even the bed. And while these might seem like great ideas, they are a recipe for nothing but unproductivity, distraction, and back pain. We might be in lockdown for a little while yet, so take some time and create yourself a proper workspace. It doesn’t have to be a whole room – but it does need to be somewhere that is free from distractions, and ideally not used for anything else whilst you are working. A dedicated workspace has a lot of benefits, but mainly it helps stop your work time from encroaching into your home time – so you won’t find yourself working while preparing dinner because your laptop was on the kitchen counter and you spotted an email come in. It also helps you focus during the workday and avoid household distractions. That could mean kitting out the spare bedroom with a desk, or it could be claiming an area in the dining room as ‘your’ office. It depends on your space and the other people in your home, but try to give yourself a little space that’s just for you and your work.
We’ve talked in one of our other blogs about why you need to take breaks from work, and from other responsibilities during the day, so we won’t rehash this point too much. What we will say though, is if you try to power through because you need to get all your work done so that you can go look after the kids, you are going to burn out hard and fast. Everyone needs their time to decompress, and to let their mind relax during the day. Taking small breaks across the day will actually make you more productive, not less, so make sure you plan them in. Trust us, it’s worth it, for your sanity as much as anything!
Isolation is a big risk when working from home, and even more so when we are all literally isolating ourselves from the outside world. Your mental health can take a serious knock if you’re alone, or cooped up with the same people, for too long, and this feeling can lead to lowered productivity and motivation. so make an effort to stay connected in other ways. Schedule regular online meetings with clients or colleagues. Get involved with professional organisations, utilise social media and hold discussions by phone call, Skype or Zoom, instead of email. This not only means you are visible outside of your home, but it will help you stay motivated and positive to combat loneliness.
At Starfish Admin Services, we understand the difficulties that come with working from home, because we’ve done it ourselves – and still do on a day to day basis. In that sense, lockdown hasn’t changed much for us! But if you’re not used to it, or haven’t done it by choice, then it can be a really hard transition. Keeping on top of everything can feel impossible at times, but through years of trial and error we’ve found that the best way to keep yourself productive is to have an organised structure to your day. That way, you can enjoy the best of both worlds and really make the most of the work-life balance flexibility that comes of working from the comfort of your own home. If you need a hand organising your workdays, or just need some support staying on top of it all during this difficult time, please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help!