Whilst the whole of Spain (and most of Europe too) is on lockdown due to the Coronavirus Epidemic, more of us than ever are working from home. For some of us that means conference calls from the comfort of a home office, whilst for others of us, that means typing out articles on the sofa surrounded by fighting children that we’re supposed to be homeschooling. However you’re working from home, you’ve probably wondered at least once this week whether you could be doing it better.
To help answer that question, here are some great tips on working well from home:
- 1. Get Dressed
It might sound obvious, but when you’re working from home for weeks without having to worry about leaving the house or being spotted by your neighbours, it’s incredibly tempting to stay in those super-soft pyjamas day in and day out. Whilst they might be comfortable, this isn’t the best way to get yourself into a working mindset.
Instead, get out of bed every morning and get dressed. You don’t necessarily have to wear the clothes you would normally wear to the office (nobody expects to see you sitting on the sofa in a suit) but getting dressed has been shown to improve your state of mind and will also psychologically separate your work and your home life, even if the two are taking place in the same space.
- 2. Focus on Fitness
Times are tough: we are facing an unprecedented health crisis, and many of us are worried about working, securing the essential supplies we need, and looking after our families. Combined with an inability to leave the house or visit the gym, it’s easy to see why many of us are letting our fitness levels slide. However, focusing on fitness will improve your mental wellbeing, keep your body healthy, and this in turn will improve the quality of your work.
Whilst you can’t get outside to exercise, that doesn’t mean that you can’t stretch and move your body. Why not look for yoga or work out videos that you can follow from the comfort of your own living room? You’ll find a massive range of options available on Youtube.
- Set Hours and Establish Boundaries
When your work and home environments are the same place, it’s easy to slip into the bad habit of checking work emails at the dinner table, and being available to work 24 hours a day. However, this simply isn’t healthy and you’ll quickly find you burn out. Instead, set core working hours and stick to them. Establish boundaries, and make it clear when you will or won’t be working. Turn off your laptop and your work phone at 5.30, or whenever your working day ends, and don’t be afraid to block out an hour for your lunch, to give yourself a break from staring at screens.
Routines are your friends when you work from home; don’t be tempted to stay up all night watching Netflix, when you need to be on a conference call at 9am. By going to bed at a sensible hour and getting up at the same time every day, you’re setting yourself up for workday success.
- 4. Have Rules if You Have Children at Home
If you’re attempting to home school your children and work your fulltime working hours at the same time then you have our deepest sympathies: it’s a tricky task. But it is possible to have happy kids and work well at the same time. The key is to establish clear rules for your kids. For example, if you’re on a conference call then your children need to know that you can’t be disturbed. Why not try making a ‘do not disturb’ sign for your door so that they have a visual cue, or prepare worksheets/screen time/ any other task that your children can work on independently for the core hours when you need to focus on your work.
Of course, if you have very young or very high needs children you may have to accept that a conventional full working day simply isn’t going to be possible: in these circumstances, why not consider working some of your hours in the evening, when your children are in bed?
- 5. Create a Workspace
If your current home doesn’t have a home office then think about creating a designated work space somewhere else in your house. This will create a clear differentiation between where you work and where you relax when the working day is over. It also means that you won’t be tempted to relax on the sofa and watch TV when you should be working. Set up a workspace on the dining table, create a desk space under the stairs: anywhere you have a quiet space away from the rest of the family is the perfect space to establish a make-shift home office.
If you don’t have a comfortable office chair at home already, consider investing in one (provided it can be delivered to your home safely). This will help you to maintain good posture and prevent back pain, which is important if you’re going to be working from home for an extended period of time.
- 6. Enjoy your Downtime
There’s more to life than work! What’s more, the quality of your work is sure to be enriched if you enjoy your downtime, and fill your life with hobbies that you enjoy. To ensure that your time away from your desk is as enriching as possible (because let’s face it, no one can watch TV all day!) why not use this time as an opportunity to learn to speak Spanish, play an instrument, or take up arts and crafts.
This will also help to separate your work and home life, making it easier to switch off from work once your working day is over.
- 7. Try Not to Get Distracted
Finally, although it might seem impossible, try not to be distracted by all of the other chores that need doing in your house. When you are working, get yourself into a work mindset. You wouldn’t do your ironing, or your dusting, or your laundry when you’re in the office, so you shouldn’t do them when you’re trying to work from home. Feel free to set breaks or slots of time where you can do your chores (it’s one of the great benefits of homeworking) but don’t try to multitask, if at all possible. The quality of your focus, and of your work, will suffer as a result. But if you do get distracted? Then don’t beat yourself up about it: these are curious times and exceptional circumstances. Just do your best, and look forward to the better times that are sure to come!