Working at home for long periods can be challenging! Particularly if you are not used to it. Feeling less connected, less effective it’s easy to become distracted or at the other end of the scale work longer hours with less breaks. Here are 10 tips from my experiences over 20 years of working at home….
Tip#1 Start the day well
Working at home or otherwise, I know the days I start with a great morning routine are the days I feel great and achieve the most. Having a morning routine will set you up for the rest of the day. Start the day positively and finish it the same. Start with negativity and it’s likely to cloud your whole day. Look out for a future blog on this topic.
Tip #2 Move regularly
Move throughout the day. Don’t just think about movement being 1 session of exercise. Take regular movement breaks (set an alarm) through the day. A short walk, some stretches, having a dance or some push ups and squats… anything. We were made to move, being still in one position is not great for the body or the mind. A change of view can help refresh your thoughts as well as ease tight muscles. Click the image for desk stretch video.
Tip #3 Have a schedule
Plan your working at home schedule. Have a defined start time and finish time, even if these need to flex with work loads. Plan in a lunch and short breaks in the day. Enter your lunch break in your calendar, set an out of office. These things will allow your mind to leave behind work rather than leaving your desk only to find your mind is on the job the whole time.
Tip #4 Keep hydrated
Our body is over 70% water and all our cells and bodily processes need water to be efficient. So stay hydrated to keep focused and ward off lethargy. Keep a refillable bottle of water on your desk to make it easy… Limit caffeine to the morning. Caffeine works on the body for 12 hours. Even if you can sleep after heavy doses it does not mean that you are doing your body any favours…
Tip #5 Don’t just talk about work to colleagues
Check in, engage in some conversation away from work topics. It will help reduce stress and anxiety and hep you feel more connected. Create fun chat groups on instant messenger. There is down time in the work place, make sure you create that at home. Feeling isolated and serious all day is not good for effectiveness, productivity or happiness!
Tip #6 Limit distractions
Avoid watching / listening to the news on a loop. If you feel you need to be up to date with the current situation once a day is adequate. You will only hear the same stories over and over and this definitely does not help you reduce fear and anxiety. You can be aware but at the same time we cannot change what is happening, we can only change our own reaction.
Also whilst sometimes having some low background music or noise can help productivity if you have specific tasks to focus on being in front of the TV is not going to help. Working from bed is a terrible idea. Bed is for relaxing.
Tip #7 Consider your work space and set up
On the same theme of distraction, have a work space. Whether the kitchen table or the sofa take time to set up your working at home area. Have a plan of how to clear things away when you need the space. Packing away is key for your mental rest. Look after your body. Feet on the floor, screen at eye level (you can always prop up on books). Not having the arms reaching out ahead of you will reduce tension in the shoulders and wrists neutral ie not lower than your fingers to prevent wrist and arm pain.
Tip #8 Use video calls
I know its easy (maybe a woman thing!) to switch the camera off and slob out. But video is great for complicated tasks and building relationships. It’s also good for your mental well being – it helps us feel connected and we benefit from non-verbal communications. Being on video means we make more effort with appearance. The odd day of slobbing out is all good but longer term it is not good for self esteem or productivity.
Tip #9 End of day closing ritual
Having a little routine that signifies the end of the working day is so helpful to leaving work behind mentally at the end of the day. Finding this gem has really changed my day.
For me, tidying the desk, writing down the wins of the day and the top 3 tasks for the next day. The to do list never ends so if you identify 3 key things to focus on doing it will help you feel a sense of achievement.
Tip #10 Posture and breathing
I prefer a standing desk, it helps me ensure I regularly move and keep feeling energised. But sitting or standing posture is important to how you feel in body and mind. Set an alarm, perhaps every other hour and check in. Lift through the chest, align the head over the shoulders, think straight line from ear shoulder and hip. Bent arms neutral wrists.
Breathing can change your mood, energy levels and thoughts. Efficient breathing is via the nose and deep into the torso rather than into the chest. Check back for more on this!