Today, I wanted to share with you my experience so far working from home due to COVID-19.
But first of all, I want to start by saying that I feel very lucky and fortunate still being able to work and having a job.
Some of my friends already have to work reduced working hours and therefore also get less salary. Some of my family members are at home waiting to see what is going to happen with their job.
For anyone that is affected in regards to work, I hope things will look better in the next coming weeks for you!
Those of us that are working from home now, face some new and unknown work situations, especially if you are not used to working from home.
So, what can we do to adapt to this new situation and find a good work-life balance?
Here is what I learned during my almost two weeks now working from home!
KEEP A ROUTINE
I have been working from home now for over a week and I found the first days challenging.
I was always distracted, all over the place and I actually felt nervous. And the reason for this was simple. I had no routine.
I woke up 10 min before I had to start work, I took my lunch break at random times and the list goes on.
Now, I try to keep the same routine as I had when I was working in the office. I wake up 30 min before work starts to have breakfast and most importantly coffee, I established a cleansing routine for my face and I have my lunch break every day at 1 pm.
This helps me to be more productive, but also puts me in a better mental state to get the feeling and sense of “Now I am at work”.
SET UP A SPACE AS YOUR OFFICE
Every morning I set up my office in the living room, more specifically the dining table in the living room. That table becomes my designated work or office space during the day.
Anything that distracts me or is in my way gets removed from it during my working hours and I set it up with utensils such as stationary, my laptop and headset as well as a notepad. Anything that will help me to get my job done.
This prepares me mentally for work as well as I get the feeling of “Now I am at work and I am ready to start work”.
GET THE RIGHT TOOLS
I do not believe that working from a bed is a good idea when working from home. It leads to bad posture and does not put you in the right mindset for work. But that is just my opinion. Everyone needs to know what is best for them.
I always sit on a desk to get work done and as mentioned I have made my dining table my temporary office.
However, sitting on a chair without padding all day long, day after day is not good. My bum started to hurt after a few hours! As a result, I have decided to invest in an office chair.
I am aware that no one wants to spend extra money at the moment, but it does not have to be a very expensive one. Maybe an extra cushion will do the trick, too.
Nevertheless, your bum and back will thank you for it. I believe we will most likely continue working from home for the near future so that is worth a thought.
And of course there are other tools that you might need or want such as a small office desk, the right utensils such as a headset etc to do your job properly and so on.
TAKE A BREAK
It is really important to take regular breaks at home. In the office, you have a chat with your colleagues and you walk to the kitchen to make some tea and interact with other colleagues from your office.
All these mini breaks act as little buffers and help us to relax a little and get some energy again.
At home, this is not possible though. Therefore, we need to find other ways to take breaks.
Maybe a quick stroll around the block (if this is possible at the moment, keep social distancing in mind), taking your dog for a walk, doing those dishes from last night or just listening to a podcast for 5 – 10 min.
Also, you should always take your full one hour lunch break! As mentioned before, I will take mine at 1 pm. I really logoff for one hour, watch TV, do a bit of exercise or have a nice proper lunch with my partner and a chat.
You are entitled to one hour lunch break, so take it. This time is there for a reason! There are studies that show productivity goes down when we take less breaks. I know it is easy to work throughout your lunch break or only take 10 min to shove down some food, but it is totally counterproductive.
The first days, everything I had for work was all over the place. I had no system in place as I do in the office.
In the office I have a pedestal or little drawer where I keep my pens, notepads etc. They have their designated area and place and at home we need to try to find space for everything as well.
Now, I put my pens, notepads, headset, laptop and even coffee mug every single day in the same spot on my table.
This helps immensely. Now I know where everything is going to be and when I need it I find it easily. I do not waste 5 min to look for a pen while I am trying to answer a call and take notes at the same time.
Several distractions lurk around every corner at home. Kids, partners, pets, traffic outside your flat, the TV and the list goes on.
When working from home, we need to manage those distractions to our best ability in order not to lose focus.
For me, I get really distracted by what is going on around me. My boyfriend came into the living room nonstop the first couple of days, I can see people and delivery vans from my living room window every day and I am curious what they are doing. And of course there is the TV in the living room and I am tempted to watch some when I should not.
In order to stay focused and limit my distractions, I have set specific rules. For instance, my boyfriend now does not enter the room anymore when the living room door is shut. This is our signal for “I am busy, leave me alone”.
I try to get the majority of work done in the mornings as I am most productive during this time of the day and also there are less people out and about, hence less distractions are around me.
MAKE TIME TO GET UP REGULARLY AND MOVE AROUND
Now that we are confined to our flat or house, it is really important that we still remember to get up regularly and move around.
I have a step tracker and can easily monitor how much I have moved around in one day. I can already see that I am not moving enough as my step count is way under 10,000 steps. Normally I walk 13,000 steps a day and yesterday I only walked around 5,000 steps.
There are different ways we can move more. For instance, when making breakfast, carry all items one by one to your table, play with your kids or pets more if you have some or walk around the room when you are talking to someone on the phone. We just need to be creative to get those steps in.
SWITCHING OFF AFTER WORK
The first week I had problems switching of after work.
Normally I drive 1 hour and 15 min home and listen to my favourite radio station. This commute helps me to switch off and get some distance from work. But of course this is not an option when working from home.
What has helped me to switch of? Simple, a routine and effective actions that kind of signal to my brain that work is finished for the day.
These include putting my “office” away every single night. I collect my laptop, stationary and so on from the table and put everything away in a bag and carry it to a different room. Out of sight, out of mind.
Also, moving from the dining table to my sofa signals to my brain that I can relax now and switch of. Having a designated space as an office creates a boundary, a physical and mental boundary. When I go to the sofa, I leave that work space behind and move into my leisure space.
I hope you find these tips helpful.
What do you do to find that work-life balance when working from home?