With many of us working from home at the moment, being efficient while working from the comfort of your own home has now become an essential part of everyday life.
Staying positive, motivated and connected to your colleagues while working remotely can pose a real challenge, so we want to share our top tips to help you stay safe, balanced and productive over the upcoming weeks. Here are some things to bear in mind…
First thing’s first, routine is key. Whilst working from home may allow you to be more flexible with your working hours, establishing a daily routine is hugely important for both your mental health and productivity. When planning your day, ensure that you factor in the following things. A daily alarm, a timeslot for movement, work hours that suit your natural energy (some people work better in the morning, others in the evening), a lunchbreak away from your computer and a definitive end time.
Working on your laptop from the comfort of your bed or sofa may seem tempting, but it will make you slump and have a negative impact on your posture. If you can, work at a desk or a table, ideally somewhere by a window for fresh air and natural light. Ensure that your screen is at eye level so you’re not looking down and straining your neck.
The internet makes staying connected with colleagues so much easier whilst working remotely. Organise a daily or weekly video call with your team to catch up on projects, discuss priorities and collaborate on ideas. A Friday lunchtime group call is also a great way for the whole team to catch up socially and stay in touch with one another.
Don’t turn on the TV. As tempting as it may be, even if you are using it for background noise, it will end up sucking you in. If you need something to break the silence, stick on some music or a podcast. It’s also important to lay down some ground rules at home, especially if you share your home with friends or family. Explain that you aren’t available during certain hours so that distractions and interruptions can be kept to a minimum. Obviously, this will be harder with younger members of the family…
Everyone works differently. But breaking it up into short bursts has been proven to be a more efficient way of working for lots of people. Instead of having one foot in work and one in distractions for several hours, choose to focus entirely on work for a period and then take a break.
The Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to break down work into manageable intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, and separated by short breaks. Start by picking the first of five tasks that you want to work on. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Then, work with full focus for 25 minutes. At the end of the first period, take a five-minute break and cross off your first session from the list.
Another popular efficiency tool, used in countries such as Japan, is ‘batching’ your work. This is the exact opposite to multi-tasking and is based on the idea that it’s easier and quicker to complete work when focused on one singular task at a time. However, be warned, this takes laser-sharp concentration and zero distractions.
One benefit of working from home is that you have a whole kitchen at your disposal, however it’s also very tempting to continually graze throughout the day instead of having 3 proper meals. Start each day with a healthy and hearty breakfast, like porridge. Then set yourself a time for lunch and try to stick to it every day if you can. Even if it’s just 20 minutes, it’s important to have time away from your workspace.
It’s hugely important to incorporate movement into your day. Not only does it break the day up, it works wonders for your mental wellbeing. Follow a 20-minute HIIT routine, stretch out with some relaxing yoga or take a stroll outside to clear your head. A walk at the end of the day to signal the start of your evening is a great way to switch off from work. Just ensure you adhere to the current government guidelines.
It’s very easy to work through lunch or continue working into the evening when your office is in your house. But it’s vital to set boundaries with yourself. Working into the night on a regular basis can have a negative impact on mental health and relationships. Set a reasonable time to start and finish working each day and then make sure you switch off completely - so no checking emails until the next morning.