The Corona Virus (Covid-19) has created a global ‘work from home’ epidemic. Workers who previously commuted to offices in the city, spent many hours with colleagues, associates and clients, and had distinct work/home lives have all of sudden found themselves trying to fit an office space into a corner of the dining room (while working alongside their home-schooling children), taking conference calls in their pyjamas, and avoiding unnecessary trips to the kitchen for additional coffee and cake!
Working from home takes a certain level of responsibility and balance, and adjusting to the new found freedoms can take time. The following tips will help you maximise your work time, increase performance and develop a routine that works best for you and your family during this challenging time.
1. Get up, Get Dressed and Get Organised!
Being psychologically ‘ready’ for work means you should get up, get dressed and establish a morning routine so that you are in the best frame of mind to perform well and be productive.
Working in your pyjamas sounds tempting but it is unlikely to ensure you’re ready for that unscheduled conference call – lounging on the sofa watching Netflix is more probable!
If possible, establish a morning routine that is similar to one you had when going into the office. Set an alarm to get up at a reasonable time, have a shower, eat a good breakfast and then take a quick walk to separate home and work.
Human beings are creatures of habit; we function best when sticking to usual routines, schedules and personal structures, so keeping within your usual daily timetable will help you to be more productive, and ensure you keep a balanced, healthy state of mind.
2. Dedicated Work Space
If possible choose a dedicated space where you can work, away from distractions, so that the time you spend there is spent doing what you should be doing – working!
It doesn’t matter if you use a spare room, the corner of the dining room, or the end of the landing, but make sure your work space has everything you need close by (including a good internet connection) so that you can avoid having to roam around the house in search of errant paperclips, a working pen, better internet signal.
If you can, ensure that the furniture you use is comfortable with good postural support, as this will encourage you to stay seated and aid concentration.
3. Choose Effective Working Times
Working from home requires a commitment – there will be certain things you need to do each day, alongside your work, which will demand your attention, so staying focussed and productive at home can be difficult at first.
For instance, while the children are at home you’ll have to accommodate some of their basic needs during the day and while the sun is shining it is tempting to spend time in the garden, so by setting working hours, specific to your life and needs, you can make the most of your time.
If you are more productive in the morning, try getting up early and completing a few hours of work before anyone else in the house is around to distract you, or alternatively, if you work better once the sun has set and the kids are in bed, then schedule a few hours from 7pm to 10pm which would give you a few hours free during the day.
Obviously there will be some calls that can only be made during the typical 9 to 5 working hours but, ensuring that your colleagues know your working times, is likely to increase your productivity and encourage efficiency during your working hours.
Don’t be tempted to burn the candle at both ends all the time. This will lead to burn-out, negativity, and resentment of the intrusion of work or home. Where possible, avoid allowing work into your personal time – be sure you take time to switch off, relax and stay active.
Not everyone is a fan of to-do lists but many people find they help to keep them focussed, confirms priorities and gives a sense of achievement at the end of each day.
Try to re-do your to-do list each day so that you can review your priorities and make effective use of your day. Set specific goals or objectives (making sure they are realistic and achievable), stick to the current task and cross it off the list once it is complete.
This action gives an enormous sense of achievement, while also ensuring that no task get overlooked. However, don’t forget to schedule breaks into your day for food, exercise and so on, as these are important to your overall wellbeing.
When working from home one day can often blend into the next so to keep focussed on time, schedules and deadlines it is helpful to use a longer-term planner alongside the to-do list for everyday tasks.
Most smart phones have a planner app that will send reminders for specific events and deadlines. These are very effective at ensuring everything is monitored in one place, but for more intensive planning you might want to use a specific project management app such as Basecamp or Asana.
5. E-Learning for Continuing Professional Development
While most of the world is in lockdown, don’t become complacent about your professional development.
Now is the perfect time to learn a new skill, brush-up on a second (or third) language, and take professional courses that you might not usually have time to complete.
At Creative Word Training we offer high quality, online courses that will enable you to improve your personal and professional development, giving the opportunity to learn about finance, law, IT, and cultural awareness, or engage with aspects of your personal development, such as theology.
We frequently add new courses and offer E-learning modules which can be completed from anywhere in the world, so it is worth checking our website regularly to see what new courses are available.