Tips on how to keep sane when working from home!
Prior to social distancing measures, 70% of UK workers had no experience of working from home, so it has been a huge adjustment for the estimated 20 million people that have relocated to home offices since March.
Even for those who love their homes and enjoy working in peace, it is not always easy to work well in our own houses, and it takes some getting used to. Here are some tips to keep you sane!
By now the novelty of working in your pyjamas might be starting to wear off – and there is a good reason for this. It is really important to distinguish between your home and work modes, and staying in your PJs blurs those modes. You can overcome that by setting boundaries, dedicating work areas and starting work in work mode (which won’t be in that Hulk pyjama set!) It is about getting in to the right frame of mind and setting a routine. Even if it is just a shower, getting dressed and sitting in a dedicated working area, it will help you start your day on the right track.
Just because you are saving time on your commute, it doesn’t mean you have to work longer hours. If you have set working hours - stick to them – and when work is finished for the day, allow yourself to be in home mode.
If you are able to set up a comfortable place to work during the day, it helps you step away from work at the end of the day as well. Tidy away your work papers or notebooks to reinforce the notion you are finished for the day.
Set realistic goals
Set yourself daily goals, but don’t be over ambitious. Before you start, set three to five clear goals for the day. Aim to do as much as you can in the morning when your concentration will be at its best.
It can be challenging to keep focused without being surrounded by your team or employer, and the longer you put off starting your day, the harder it will be to get going and keep up the concentration.
Normally your working day will be broken up by meetings, chats in the work kitchen, and general office noise so don’t feel guilty about setting short breaks after an hour’s worth of work – it will probably make you more productive in the long run. This includes stopping for a proper lunch break and some exercise.
Fresh air, exercise, and conversation
If you are able to, make sure you get some fresh air every day and keep active. It will help break up the day and it is key to good mental health.
Pick up the phone and have a real conversation, whether it’s with a colleague, friend or relative. If it’s with a colleague it will often be more productive than a stream of emails back and forth, but regardless we need the stimulation of conversation and social connection to keep our brains happy and engaged!
With the kids
Everything we have said so far is all very well if you are just in charge of yourself each day, but if you have children at home then you will need to come up with a solution that works for everyone.
If there is another parent at home who is also working, work out a shift pattern so each of you has time you can concentrate away from the kids. It will probably involve early mornings and evening work, but it will mean you can both complete your work and give the kids the attention they need with home schooling or boredom relief!
It is still important to set times when you won’t be working, and can have some time off and fresh air. If you can give yourselves at least one day off together a week it will great for your sanity and family life.
Don’t underestimate the burden on your mental health
Working from home and being isolated from your colleagues might not be as fun-filled as you imagined, and it is completely understandable if you are struggling with the new set-up.
If you are feeling the toll it is important to speak out. Talk to a colleague or boss, a loved one or an organization like Shropshire Mind. By seeking out some support and talking through the issues, you may be able to relieve some of those feelings.
By making some small changes, working from home can be more manageable and even enjoyable!