I never expected to be finishing my thesis from home. When I was in first year, I imagined tearing my hair out in the library, not my living room.
Nevertheless, here I am. Working from home has been a learning experience. I have figured out what works for me as I’ve gone along, and have stayed productive.
Here are my five tips for working from home and one I’d like to start doing.
1. Have a dedicated work space.
It seems easy to curl up on the sofa with your laptop. I have found that I get a lot more distracted when I work like that. Now I work from a desk, I can stay focused for much longer.
You don’t need to have a desk; your kitchen table will do. One other thing, only work in that space. Don’t work in bed, it will be harder to relax later. If you are using a kitchen table, you usually eat at, clear away the work and set the table at mealtimes.
2. Stick to your routine.
Before the crisis, you had a routine. You got up at a certain time. You might have eaten lunch at a certain time. You came home at a particular time. Keep doing that.
Don’t take your work home, so to speak.
Your brain likes different contexts. It will be easier to work when you are in the headspace that you are at work or you are home.
I said at the start that there was one tip I would like to start doing. I warn you if you are a student, it will be difficult.
Don’t keep working in the middle of the night. If you do, it will be hard to keep to your routine. You will also feel like you are never at home and that might make you anxious.
As students, we are used to working all hours. But it’s important not to now because of all the added stress. We have limited access to our colleges and universities. We need balance more than ever so that we can stay motivated and offset some of the disadvantages of studying from home.
3. Make your work space nice.
If you do have a desk, put a plant or some photos on it. This might not be something you can do at work. It is not something you can do at college.
While you should try to keep your work habits as similar, there’s an opportunity here to make things nicer.
I’ve found that making the space nice, makes me want to work at it. It’s simple but effective.
On the subject, tidy your desk. When I finish my work for the day, I tidy the desk. I get rid of post-it-notes, clear away my coffee mug and straighten my notes and laptop. It makes it easier to get a start in the morning.
4. Take regular breaks.
When you were at work you talked to colleagues and had breaks throughout the day. Now that you are at home, you may not have as many interactions to get distracted by. You don’t eat when others do.
When I’m at college, I have breaks around classes or when my friends eat. My classes are now online and my friends are in the same position as I am. It’s more likely that if I’m on a roll with something, I’ll keep working.
Why not set up a digital lunch. Have an agreement with work colleagues or friends to meet by video every day to eat lunch together.
When I’m at college I move around a lot. I move to and from buildings and classrooms. I can be working in the library before lunch and then the canteen in the main building to eat.
At home, the distance is a lot shorter. I spend a lot more time sitting than I’m used to. So I’m finding I have a lot of muscle aches these days.
This week I have started rolling out my yoga mat during the day to do 15 minutes here and there. Not everyone is into yoga though.
Alternatively, you can do some basic stretches from YoutTube or stretch as you do in the morning.
Do what works for you!
I hope these tips help. Since we are all becoming experts on working from home, what are your tips?
Leave them in the comments.