Many of us are finding ourselves in unusual circumstances, likely now working from home for the foreseeable future. And whilst that sounds great – no more commuting, a longer lie-in, Netflix on-tap, more time with family – the reality can soon turn out to be very different.
I should know, I worked from home for six years in a previous job.
Yes, it had all the benefits I mentioned above but it also had its struggles. And if I didn’t have structure to my days then those struggles only increased.
So here are my top six tips:
1. Get up! The most important thing for me was to get out of bed at the same time every day and maintain a routine. If you slope out of bed at 9am, have a cuppa for breakfast and work in your pyjamas it’ll soon get you down. You never know how long this is going to last for! So set your alarm, get up and have a shower, get dressed and have a decent breakfast. Then start work. Don’t put it off – work’s not going anywhere so get on with it.
2. Despite working for a large company of over 40,000 people it was still easy to feel isolated, so make sure you schedule regular meetings and catch-ups with colleagues, make good use of tools such as Skype and FaceTime and speak with friends and family regularly.
3. It’s important to have a designated workspace, rather than trying to work on the sofa in front of the TV (as great as that sounds!). If you’re lucky enough to have a spare room then set yourself up in there. If not, find a table in a quiet area that you can call your ‘office’. You need separation between work and home life, otherwise it all blends into one.
4. Take regular breaks. Working from home should mean you have fewer interruptions from colleagues chatting about their latest boxset binge. This in-turn means you will potentially be more productive (I certainly was), but those breaks are also important for the mind. Schedule-in regular time away from your computer to give your eyes and brain a break. Eat your lunch away from your desk – this will ensure you have some guaranteed downtime.
5. Whilst the thought of no stressful morning and evening commutes may be music to your ears, they do give you some degree of exercise. Even if it’s just walking to the bus stop. At the time of reading this I’m not sure what the government guidance will be on leaving the house but if possible, try to get out once a day for a walk, run or cycle. If that becomes impossible then there’s plenty you can do at home, even for 5-10 minutes. Get out into the garden (if you have one), climb the stairs (if you have any!), or simply do some bodyweight exercises like sit-ups, press-ups, dips, lunges, squats etc. Simply look online for HIIT exercises and you’ll find plenty to suit you.
6. Stop working. It’s easy to get carried away (believe it or not) and not give yourself an official ‘home time’ because you are effectively always in work. If you are one of the lucky ones and have a home office then close the door to it come the end of the day and do something that marks the end of the working day so you have some separation. That could be the new exercise regime you just gave yourself!
I’m certainly not saying I’m an expert on this subject, but these are the things that worked for me and they might just help a few of you too. Good luck and please let us know how you get on. We’d love to hear your stories and don’t be afraid to get in touch if you need someone to chat to.
AJ, COO, MESOA For Men