As many of us sit in quiet quarantine at home, in either self-isolating or enforced (especially on the continent) amid the Pandemic of you-know-what , I decided to write a blog on “Working From Home”
Personally , I have worked from home for the last 15 years, and I remember at first finding it somewhat difficult, if not impossible, to focus on the work and not be distracted by the myriad of other things to do in the house.
- Have a place to work. A desk and comfortable chair. Not a bed, a couch or a dining room table.
- Be ready to start work each day by a certain time.
- Wear clothes that make you think you are at work.
- Make a to-do-list every evening and work it every day.
- Keep a strict personal hygiene routine: hair, teeth, and hands.
- Smile a lot. Keep practicing your smile, especially if you’re now working alone.
- Make sure other people you live with know when you’re working not to disturb.
- Don’t necessarily keep normal working week/hours. Weekends are a great time to work at home.
- Remember to switch off in the evenings. Keep a time at which you switch off.
- Use the “Do Not Disturb” option on your mobile to avoid calls and messages overnight
So the first tip I would give anyone working at home is to have a place to work, I mean a set place, which you call “my office”: A comfy office chair and a desk would be ideal, but not a bed, couch or dining room table. Working from the dining room or kitchen table is not a good place to set up a permanent office. A spare room, or a corner of a room is a much better idea.
I set myself a start time, a time by which I will be ready to work, each day. For me that time is 10 am. For you it may be different. But the importance of having a fixed start time is that it will give you a daily routine. Now I am not saying I start work at 10am, I say I am ready to start work at 10am. One of the beauties of working from home is that your time is your own and you can use it as productively as you need. But you will have to learn self-discipline if you want to get ahead.
When working at home mindset is key. Getting yourself into working mode whilst at home. Time helps with mindset, but equally important is not to slop around in your pyjamas all day, So in my case I make sure I wear a proper shirt, occasionally a polo shirt, but usually a proper dress shirt. The clothes you wear when working at home make a significant difference to your mindset.
When you get started each day, you’re going to need focus. Making a To-Do List every evening before you end your day, provides a head start for the following morning. Being prepared for work and knowing where to start.
It’s easy, when it’s only you, not to look after your, hair your hands and I hate to say your teeth. Personal hygiene is easily overlooked in this situation and an important part of your start-of-day routine.
Did you know that there are 43 muscles in the face? When you’re on your own it may be difficult to remember to smile and it may feel an odd thing to do but it is important that you don’t get out of the habit of smiling. Look at yourself in the mirror, tell yourself what a good job your doing and smile. Don’t worry there’s nobody looking and thinking you’re mad!
Get yourself a DO NOT DISTURB sign or some other way to indicate to the other people in your household that you are working. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean it’s open season for domestic chores, errands and pick up and drop off taxi services for the kids.
Get yourself out of Rat Race Mentality. You are free to work any hours you choose, which might include week-ends, nights, bank holidays or which ever other hours you want. I sometimes work from 2:30am till 5am and then go back to bed and sleep until a bit later. My favourite day to work is Sunday because the phones quiet and I can relax and be productive. I guess I also don’t feel guilty about being at home on a Sunday, which is left-over from all those years of being a 9 to 5, 5 days a week, rat-race worker.
It is equally important for your health and well-being to switch-off and relax when the working day is done. Whether you work 4 hours, 4 days, or 6 1/2 to 7 days a week, when work is over you need to rest. The beauty of working from home is that you can be your own boss – even if you’re still working for someone else, and your hours of work are your own. But so are your hours of rest – and you need to make sure that you apply the same discipline to them as to your working time.
My iPhone has a night-time DND setting, so does my Android. Let people know that you can be contacted at any time as you have a silent all phone notifications setting programmed into your phone. Make sure your family know how to get hold of you in an emergency during these times and have a rehearsal. If you were in an office there would be fire drills and emergency procedures – you need your own mini versions of these to keep yourself safe. Health and Safety at work should not go out the window just because you’re working from home.
Toby Baillon (C) 2020 TobyOne London – Tenerife.