Who would have thought that when our offices closed in March, we would be working from home for this long? The reality is, we in the UK have been on lockdown for just under 2 months now, and for other countries it’s been significantly longer. When I was told my office was closing I was really worried. In the past I have really struggled to work from home, and concentration hasn’t come easily… But, I’ve surprised myself in the last few weeks and have actually been more productive than I ever thought I would be. Here’s how I helped myself:
Set up a work space
I cannot stress how important this has been for me. I am usually that person who is guilty of working from wherever is most comfortable. Usually either on my bed or in the sunshine. However, from the get go, I set myself up on my dining table and that is now my home office space, shared with my housemate. Although our house isn’t big and our dining table is in our living room, having that little patch designated for working, and the sofa and bedrooms no work areas has really helped me to define some boundaries for when it’s work time and when it’s not. It’s also done wonders for my posture (not that I look like a ballerina, more that I don’t resemble Quasimodo…)
I don’t know why, but it’s so much easier to work through breaks or work later when you’re working from home. Something about the mentality of not commuting, I guess! But I’ve found it really helpful to get away from my “desk” for my full hour at lunch and take tea breaks throughout the day, just as I would if I was in the office. I’ve found that it helps me concentrate much better, especially if I’m working on a tough piece or have lots of meetings.
Get dressed properly
I don’t know if it’s because I work in fashion or not, but I find it so helpful to put proper clothes on for working days and I even sometimes wear shoes around the house when I’m working as it makes me feel more “dressed”. It just feels like I’ve started the day right and it means that I’m always prepared for surprise video calls (of which there are many, at the moment!)
Exercise in the morning and evening has become a key part of my routine and I find it bookends my days nicely. Most mornings I will get up early and do a workout, then shower and get ready for the day. In the evenings I make sure I turn my laptop off no later than 6pm and try to get out for a walk, even just a stroll to the shops or around the block. I’ve found that I’m walking a lot less now that I’m working from home, so these sessions and walks are really important for my fitness in general as well!
Try not to do household chores
Spending so much time at home means the house gets messier quicker and I also seem to have more laundry to do. However, cleaning and laundry are usually weekend jobs for me, so doing them during working hours puts me in an unproductive weekend mode. It’s also really distracting having the washing machine on when you’re trying to have a phone call, so I try and keep the chores to the weekend.
Get up early
Not like crack of dawn early, but make sure you have enough time to wake up, get dressed and have a proper breakfast before you start work. It’s so tempting to just lie in until ten to nine and then roll downstairs to work, but it means you end up not having a productive morning. For me, the morning is traditionally my most productive time of the day, before the post-lunch snoozies hit me, so it’s been really important for me to be ready to go at 9am on the dot, if not before.
Talk to colleagues
I am lucky enough to work with an amazing group of people and I’m missing my work friends a lot whilst we’re not in the office. I try to chat with people a lot and video call where I can so that I can see people’s faces and pretend to be in the office! We’ve been going through quite a stressful time within the company that I work for, so it’s been good to keep in touch with people to offer support and to feel a bit less alone whilst everything is going on.