This week workers in many countries across the world were advised to work from home, if at all possible, in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.
While some of you will already be used to working remotely, for others this will be a complete change to their regular routine. We have put together some tips to help make the transition smoother while minimising distractions and protecting your mental health.
1. Stick to a routine
A good morning routine is essential to set you up for a successful day. Try to wake up the same time every day. If possible, carve out some time for yourself to read, meditate or exercise rather than delving straight into your emails. Without the usual office routine of coffee breaks and lunchtime visits to the café to punctuate your day, it is easy to think that you just have to plough through for 7-8 hours straight. Create a plan to structure your working day, make sure that you take regular breaks and set a cut-off time in the evening.
2. Get dressed
Tempting as it may be to stay in your pyjamas, for most of us this is a fast route to an unproductive day. Taking a shower and getting dressed will put you in the right mindset to get work done. It will also ensure that you are prepared if your boss schedules a last minute video call. There is no need to don a business suit or heels, but wear something that you would be happy for your colleagues to see you in. Packing a bag for essentials such as your water bottle and a snack will also limit the time you leave your workspace to wander into the kitchen or other areas of your home.
3. Use your leisure time productively
That new series on Netflix may be vying for your attention, but try to resist the temptation to veg out on the sofa for hours on end. If you usually go to the gym on your way home from work, finish your working day with a home workout or go for a run. You can also use the extra time freed up by not having to commute as an opportunity to learn a new skill. Perhaps you always wanted to learn a language, calligraphy or coding? If you want to boost your confidence and life skills, The British School of Etiquette has a comprehensive programme of online etiquette courses that you can complete via Skype, Zoom or What’s App.
4. Don’t always choose emails over meetings
When you’re working from home it may seem more efficient to fire off a quick email rather than setting up a video call with a client or colleague. However, research shows that people’s stress levels are actually higher when they work remotely compared to being based in an office. Having face-to-face interaction via video calls can help combat social isolation and help you engage more fully with others. Unlike phone calls, you can see people’s faces and read their expressions and some body language on video chats.
5. Make lists and set goals
Writing a to-do list every morning will make the day more manageable and ensure you stay focused on each task. List everything in order of priority and start with the most important things. At the end of each day, tick off the tasks that you have accomplished for tangible proof that you are moving forward.
Eliminating distractions is a key part of working from home and setting both long- and short-term goals reminds you of your motivation. Use the SMART method to make sure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.
6. Leave the house
Staying inside all day is not healthy so try to get outside for some fresh air at regular intervals. Go for a walk in your neighbourhood or, if the weather allows, you can even eat your lunch in the park or in your garden. Exercise and spending time outside will boost both your immunity and mental health – two things that I think we can all agree are particularly important at the moment.