I’ve been working from home full-time now since March. I’ve learned a lot but for this particular blog post I decided to consult an expert.
My friend Charlotte lives in England with her husband, dog and three cats and has been working at home for 10 years so she’s an expert. She can also give you a different perspective as I work freelance and she works for a large company.
- Get Dressed
I used to have visions of working off the laptop in my jammies all day but it didn’t take me long to realise that this doesn’t work – Charlotte and I totally agree on this one. If you want to be any kind of productive you need to get up and dressed and be sitting at some kind of desk to get any work done. You don’t need to wear office attire and to be honest you’re probably better off wearing something comfortable. But wear clothes that you haven’t slept in!
2. Create A Nice Work Space
If at all possible, create a work space that’s out of the way of the rest of the home so you can leave work behind there at the end of the day.
I don’t have the space for a study in my current home and for a long time Charlotte didn’t either so we both used the kitchen table (I still do). A good trick at the end of the working day is to put all of your work stuff away so your workspace reverts back to the household kitchen table – this includes putting away the laptop. It means you won’t feel like you live in your office.
When I’m at the kitchen table I try and keep it nice – a vase of flowers, a scented candle and facing a window so you can focus your eyes on something when you look away from your screen to give them a rest.
3. Take A Break…
And rehydrate – this one comes from Charlotte who thinks it’s very easy to keep plodding on and forget to eat or drink anything. In her experience people take more breaks in the office than they do at home.
I’m going to add to this one too. I work at home but my partner doesn’t and through the course of the day I quite often do housework tasks – put a wash on, empty the dishwasher, that sort of thing. I’ve had to make myself realise that if I’m having a busy day that it’s OK that this stuff doesn’t get done. It’s also OK if my partner comes home from work and the house isn’t spotless. We share the housework and if I worked in an office it wouldn’t have been done anyway. The important thing is to get your job done – everything else comes second. I do, if I can, make sure I eat lunch away from my work space so I get even a little break during the day.
In saying that, as a freelance I do try and make hay while the sun shines. If things are quiet I try and take advantage of that and go for walks or a swim. I find that I can then relax for the rest of the evening.
It goes without saying that when you start working from home you lose a lot of the human contact that happens in the office. No water cooler chats or lunchtimes in the break room. This can be particular hard if you don’t have the kind of job that requires you to be on the phone all day.
Charlotte suggests working with the radio on if you’re able so you at least hear some human voices through the day. Her company has also implemented video calling so she can see and hear her colleagues which helps a lot.
As a freelance I try and make a few coffee dates throughout the week. These get me out of the house, into human contact and are excellent networking opportunities. I also get to sample the coffee delights Belfast has to offer.
It’s astonishing the difference it your diet working from home can make. I eat much better because I can make my lunch in a fully stocked kitchen. No-one will complain about smelly food or noisy appliances so bring on the Nutribullet.
I try to vary it and make sure there’s plenty of fruit and healthy snacks on hand for picking. Working from home means it’s unlikely you’ll be dashing to Tesco for calorie-packed, premade sandwiches and crisps. There aren’t any handy vending machines and, even better, no-one bringing in sweet treats to tempt you with.
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