With millions of people forced to work from home at the moment, the current crisis requires us to embrace tremendous change in our working methods and daily routines. We have to adapt to an environment that is usually intended for relaxation, sleep and spending time with our loved ones, and free from all things concerning our jobs. This will feel unfamiliar for a lot of people, so how do we handle this new situation best?
First, by acknowledging that this is a great opportunity to explore new ways to be productive and improve our self-discipline. Working from home enables us to find our own individual routine that suits our biorhythm, and we are free to design our own work space. In this case, it involves more than just decorating a desk in an office. If you manage to keep distraction at bay, you may even be able to get more things done than you would in a noisy office with your chatty colleagues around. It is all about clearly separating your work and private life, even though for now, both have to take place in the same house. To help you create your perfect home office, we compiled this useful list of tips for you that you can try out and modify to your individual needs and living space.
Since we are spending most of the day inside and are not allowed to meet people, why bother to get dressed? Because it will make you feel professional and give you the feeling that every day is just another office day… except that you are staying at home. Of course it is tempting to just stay in our cosy pyjamas or sweatpants all day, but we won’t get in that work mindset unless we are starting the day as if we did in normal circumstances. It will help you to focus – you will notice the difference. So set your alarm clock, take a shower and put on clothes that you would wear for your job. We are here to get things done!
Don’t try to work in front of the TV, on your couch or bed, but find a work space that you feel comfortable in. Look for a quiet area in your house that will help you focus and work efficiently. If you don’t have a separate office room, any room can be converted into a work space, but make sure it has a window, ideally a proper desk and enough daylight. Clear your office space regularly from all unnecessary items like stacks of paper and empty coffee cups and keep all the important things such as your work phone and notebook close. You may want to decorate your work space nicely with paintings, photos and plants to make it more comfortable, but keep it clean and minimalistic. If it doesn’t distract you and you prefer working with some background noise, try listening to relaxing instrumental music.
Structure your day and use your time with purpose by writing a list with tasks before you start working. Don’t overdo it, give yourself a realistic amount of work to do. Tick the items off the list as you go – this will give you little motivation boosts throughout the day.
If you have children and a partner whose job isn’t systemically relevant, they will probably be around all day. Especially children might not understand that you still have to work, although you are at home. Friends or neighbours might call to check in – there are so many possible sources of distraction. Teach them firmly that you have work to do and tell them when you are free to chat.
Make sure to set yourself specific work and leisure times – don’t mix them up! If you usually have to be in the office at 9am, don’t get out of bed just before lunch and then decide to start working in the afternoon. Working from home requires discipline and a proper schedule that is similar to your normal day-to-day routine. The same goes for your spare time – evenings and weekends are there for hobbies, sports and family time and should be completely free from thoughts revolving around your job.
Give yourself, your spine and your eyes regular breaks from sitting in front of the laptop all day. Make sure to schedule breaks appropriately and fix a time limit, otherwise breaks can quickly get out of hand and you will find it hard to get back to work. Have a snack or a cup of coffee, or call and chat with your favourite co-worker. It is also always a good idea to include some movement throughout the day. Have a stretch to relax your body, or take a short walk to unwind for a few minutes and clear your head – and get back to work refreshed.