In theory, working from home sounds great: you can wake up mere minutes before you need to log on for the day, wear comfy clothes and be just metres from the tasty snacks in your cupboard.
But it can be hard to adjustment to remote working, especially if it's your first time. To get settled into your new routine faster, follow these tips and ideas for making your home office work for you, from people who know what it's like.
Schedule time for things you enjoy
Don’t only schedule in your meetings and tasks. Look at your day and see where you can make time for activities you really enjoy, like reading, cooking or exercising. When you’re working from home, it can be harder to put barriers to stopping to place, and this will help you to step away from your computer.
Keep in touch
Outside of Zoom meetings with the team, try and have a call or video conference with a colleague to simply chat. Don’t talk about work; it’s just a nice way to check in and feel less isolated.
Create a positive atmosphere with ambient noise
The informal atmosphere of a café can have a positive influence on your creativity. According to published research from Ravi Mehta, a professor at the University of Illinois, a moderate level of ambient noise enhances creativity by prompting abstract thinking: "Our findings imply that instead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution, walking outside of one's comfort zone and getting into a relatively noisy environment like a cafe may actually trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas". Try this sound simulator at home to capture the buzz of being in a public place.
Act like you’re in the office
We've all heard the advice around making sure you’re up, showered, dressed properly and at a work station (i.e.not in bed, in PJs, for a morning call!) but extend this to other parts of the day. Create a structure, don’t open the fridge 20 times. –pretend that you’re still around people to create order and discipline in your day.
Try a "zero-based calendar"
Before you finish up for the day, lock in tasks for tomorrow and give each a finite window to complete, be that an email, a report or even a tea break. Making deadlines for each task will keep you motivated and focused. Using a planner that splits the day into 30-minute slots is helpful. If you have a task that will take two or more hours, break it into achievable smaller sub-tasks.
Set aside 20 minutes for yoga, twice a day
You’re most likely using your dining table, sitting on a chair that’s not conducive to the best posture. You’re also snacking quite a bit. Why not set aside 20 minutes for yoga twice a day? It’s like meditation – for limbs. There are some excellent 20-minute yoga classes on YouTube. Yoga With Adriene is my favourite channel. All you need is a yoga mat or a large towel. Excellent for stretching and relaxing sore shoulders, neck and back muscles. And it’s surprising how refreshed and energised you feel after these sessions.
Over and out
Let your workmates know when you're clocking off for the day. When your commute is just to the kitchen, it's too easy to feel like you're still switched on. Flag that you'll no longer be perched at your computer answering emails straight away – and draw a curtain on your working day.
Catch some rays
Try not to eat at your desk. Step away from your workspace and use this time to try to get some sun during the middle of the day to reap the benefits of increased vitamin D and serotonin levels. According to WHO, getting anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands, and face two or three times a week is enough to enjoy the vitamin D-boosting benefits of the sun.
Remember to take a break
Whether you want a reminder to stretch, meditate or plank for 60 seconds this web-based tool will pop-up with whatever text you input. Then step away!.
Get all the help you can
Meaning: use the Zoom filter. It gives your face a subtle glow, which works as a kind of mood-booster. Yes, it’s vain but let’s be honest: who are you looking at most during your video conferences?