Perhaps you’re new to working from home and at first it seemed a novelty. Three weeks in and you may now be thinking differently. You miss your colleagues, the work-day chat, dropping by someone’s desk to say hello and the buzz of the office. And it’s becoming a real challenge to combine your personal and professional life in the same space.
Three weeks into lockdown and you may be finding it hard to keep motivated with work days and weekends are blurring into one another. Now is a good time to assess your work-life balance and look at how you can improve your working from home routine.
- How’s your commute to work these days?
Your initial response to this question is probably “great – no more rushing to get a seat on a crowded train or sitting in traffic jams”. But there will be some parts of your work commute that you probably miss. Reading a new book, listening to your favourite radio station or Spotify playlist or maybe a Starbucks skinny latte. The commute helped you shift between home life and work mode.
Think about how you can regain the separation of home and work life. Take a walk or run outside (your daily exercise allowance) before logging on. Listen to some music or playlists or read a book. Make yourself a special coffee and put it in your travel mug. These small differences will help you start your workday on a positive and clear note.
- How’s your work environment?
Having children at home definitely makes it hard to create an effective 9-5 work environment but it’s important to make some steps to separate the boundaries between work and home. Before your new daily commute, instead of spending all day in your pyjamas or tracksuit, put on some work clothes – maybe allowing yourself to retain casual Friday.
If you simply can’t do a normal work-day time schedule then make sure your boss and colleagues know when you are working. If they are aware of your new schedule then this will be less stressful to you.
Put an out of office on your email during certain hours if needed or let people know that your response times may be slower. Video calls are great to keep in touch with people and to replace important face to face meetings but keep an eye on the number of these that you do to avoid video call fatigue.
Above all, make sure you manage people’s expectations and when it’s time to log off, do just that.
- Give yourself a break!
If you’re not already doing this, give yourself a break every 60-90 minutes. It’s important for concentration that you do this and you’ll get more done in the long run. During your break, speak to a colleague as you would do in the office, or make yourself a drink and at lunchtime, try to eat nutritiously, taking in some fresh air if possible.
Give yourself a break figuratively as well. Set yourself goals for the day, but make sure these are realistic and, if you don’t achieve them, don’t beat yourself up about it.
These are tough times so above all, make sure that you look after yourself. Good mental health is vital to working from home effectively. Covid-19 and the uncertainty of many things means that it’s perfectly normal to feel the strain. Reach out to your employer, a friend, relative or colleague if you need to talk.
You’ve made it through the first few weeks of working from home and now is the best time to start making these and any other adjustments that are needed to improve your work life. Reassess, and change anything that isn’t helping you to be effective and balance your home and work life.