1. Create the right workspace
The first thing to do - set up a suitable workspace. This should be somewhere in your house that you don’t tend to relax in. No matter the temptation, don’t sit and work from your bed or the sofa! Creating a bespoke workspace will help keep your focus. It also won’t taint your relaxing areas. Preferably, you want a desk with a good, supportive chair - don’t forget how important posture is.
Keep your workspace clear and clutter-free to help you focus. It’s more difficult working in a messy space. Try to set up lighting that will help you focus. Our trick is to face a lamp towards the wall, rather than towards yourself or your work, because that will make the lighting softer and easier on your eyes. Pop a plant on your desk - if you’re not leaving the house for long periods of time, you may want to bring the outside in.
2. Routine, routine, routine
Set yourself a workday routine and stick to it. Include a time to start work and a time to finish. When you’re going out to work, you can’t just tumble out of bed and into the office in your pyjamas. So don’t do that when you’re working from home. Get up at the same time and go through your morning routine to set yourself up for the day. That means getting dressed as if you’re leaving for work! This also helps if you get a surprise video call from a colleague.
Give your day structure. Create a schedule for the day. Perhaps a to-do list is enough for you, or maybe you find it more helpful to draw up a timetable for the day to make sure you know what you’re doing and when. Whatever it is, pencil in a plan for the day.
Setting aside time for regular breaks is just as important. Take a lunch break, and don’t work through it. On your breaks, move away from your workspace. Even if you walk around the house for ten minutes, or pop out into the garden for a cuppa. Hopefully, you’ll feel less trapped when at your desk.
Speaking of breaks - make sure you take some time to exercise during the day! Exercise is vital for good physical and mental health. Working from home gives you fewer opportunities to exercise without noticing. Maybe you cycle to work? Spend a lot of time walking around the office or go out for a lunchtime walk. These won’t happen so easily when working on your own at home, so make sure to include exercise into your daily schedule.
3. Stay focused
It’s so easy to get distracted by everything around you at home. There’s washing to be put away, pots to wash, Netflix to watch… Don’t give in! Focus on what you’re meant to be doing, and you’ll get it done far quicker. Put your phone somewhere you won’t be as tempted to keep checking it - even if it’s on the other side of the room. If it’s not in front of you, you won’t pick it up and look at it out of habit. Imagine all the distractions you’ll avoid.
Limit your news consumption - yes, you should stay safe and informed on the current pandemic, but don’t get obsessed with keeping up to the minute.
Try to set up your workspace somewhere in the house where you are less likely to get distracted. If you’ve got a room without a TV, work in there. Don’t let yourself get distracted by family members. Your children might be excited to have you at home, but let them know when it is time to work. Sharing childcare during this time may be difficult, so why not agree on a working rota? Spilt the time evenly and make it clear to your children when your time is for them.
4. Look after yourself
Humans are social creatures - we need to talk to people. Working from home, even if you do have a family in the house, can feel lonely. Make sure that you’re taking the time to speak to someone other than those in your household. If you need to speak to a colleague, give them a call instead of sending an email. It means you’re talking to someone else and you can have a catch up as well as getting your work done.
Make sure you’re eating healthily and regularly. Don’t skip lunch because you’re working - it will only encourage you to sit and snack on unhealthy food at the desk during the day. Drink lots of water (and a cup of tea or two!)
5. Go easy on yourself
Suddenly having to adapt to home working is difficult. You might not get everything crossed off your list. You may well end getting distracted. Don’t worry about it too much, just chalk it up as experience and try again tomorrow. Adapting to these things take time, so don’t over scrutinise yourself.