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March 27, 2020
As many of us have plunged into the deep end of working from home, with little time to prepare and a heavy cloud of uncertainty hanging over our heads as a major distraction, it can be hard to know what to do next. We are all trying to navigate this new routine of working at home for 8 hours and then living at home for the rest of it, with only one permitted outing a day. But we are all in this together and despite that heavy cloud, there are some really positive things going on in the world that are helping those most affected and supporting those in need. Selfless acts of kindness act as a ripple through all of society, so if you want to take part - go for it!
For those of us that usually work in an office environment, working from home can seem totally alien and a very lonely place. So it’s important to keep your normal structure and routine that you would have at work. Don’t cancel meetings, just turn them into Zoom calls. Wake up at the same time every morning and enjoy an extra 30minutes or your average commute time to have a cup of tea or read for a bit. Then start work as normal. Have your lunch break as normal and return to work as normal. This will help you feel more in control of your current situation. If you now have to work around kids, make your employer aware of this to ease any irrational expectations. Reduce your hours or workload, or sign yourself off to claim your self-isolation benefit.
To keep you feeling fresh and in work mode, don’t slouch on the sofa with your feet up, or lay in bed in your pajamas. Put on clothes that make you feel good, smart and in control. Then prepare your workstation at a desk or dining table, this will make you feel most like you're at your office desk.
Then when you come to finish work and relax on your sofa, it won’t feel like you’re still working. This separate space mentality is also good for your subconscious to relax and know you’re no longer in work mode.
As with any usual day, without self isolation, it’s important to implement self care so your mental state is always at its best. With a clear head and happy thoughts, you can work hard, be creative and not become mentally strained from information overload.
Self care can be as simple as enjoying a cup of tea, switching off your phone and reading a book for half an hour. It can be practicing meditation or using your permitted daily outing to walk through nature, taking in the sounds and warm weather as much as you can. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s beneficial for your mental health and in turn, a lot of the time it will be good for your physical health too.
Just like your average working day in the office, you will have moments where you are talking to colleagues, making a cup of tea or taking your lunch break. Having regular breaks in between work tasks allows your brain to take a breather and when you come back to your work it can refocus easier. Why not Facetime a colleague and both make a cup of tea or coffee at home if that is something you used to do together at work. Allow yourself time to relax, work shouldn’t be unenjoyable and regimented to the point of boredom.
Take lunch in the garden if you have one, pull up a deck chair and enjoy your packed lunch just as you normally would. Using this time to get some fresh air, will reboot your system, making you think more clearly and respond to tasks more efficiently. If you don’t have a garden, a balcony will have the same effect or even just sitting by an open window will do the trick.
Once you get into the swing of working from home, you may find yourself rushing through tasks without distractions from noise or co-workers and completing tasks in half the time. But this doesn’t mean to say you should rush through everything in a bid to get your work done and finish early, whatever the costs. Because the costs will most likely be you becoming overworked, mentally strained and with a headache, not to mention your work will become full of errors and mishaps from being so rushed.
It will take time, but it’s important to set yourself a new pace, actively assess your new time frames for different tasks and work around these with a 10-15 minute break to allow for proof-reading, checking over data and fulfilling to your best potential. If you’re really wanting to make the most of your time at home to become more organised without the distractions, set yourself a daily or weekly list of tasks that you can tick off as you go, so you can pace your workload efficiently.
Now that you’re working from home, switching off at the end of the day can be a lot harder. Set your boundaries right with a designated working area in your home and work the same hours you normally would to avoid confusion to your body clock. Once you finish for the day, switch off any work computers, work phones until it’s time to work again tomorrow. This way you won’t feel guilty for spending time with family or the intrusion of work with your downtime.
Ultimately, this time is going to work differently for everyone, and it's about making the most of what we’ve got for now, until things return to normal. We hope you are all well and that these blogs give you some light relief, knowing you are not alone.
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