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Working from Home

Andonella Thomson, a coach, trainer, motivator and mentor at Kingscavil Consulting, who is also going to run the next FST Mentoring Programme, put together a great list of tips and suggestions that will make working from home easier: 

There are loads of emails coming in about what companies are doing to be extra vigilant. Are you trying to be productive at home and it’s different to normal for you? Here’s a few simple but useful ideas of how to make it work for you. First of all – give yourself a break. These are unusual times for everyone, so give yourself the ‘luxury’ of catching your breath a bit. 

1.  Get dressed. It means you’re ready for work rather than just checking a few emails in pj’s. If you normally wear lippy or aftershave, still do that. You can leave the more formal clothes in the wardrobe and be comfortable in casual clothes.

2.  Have a routine if you’re used to one.  Be flexible but having a routine may help to keep you on track.

3.  Be realistic about what you want to achieve on any given day. The Eisenhower Grid (Urgency/Importance Matrix) helps you to prioritise.

4. Do you like a To-Do list? I have a work one and a home one. You CAN keep on top of the domestic stuff and prepare a meal whilst you work through your task list. It also means you can delegate to other loved ones so the jobs can be shared!

5. Have a physical space that’s just for working. A colleague of mine suggested that if you don’t have a room, landing or spare bedroom and you are resigned to the kitchen table, sit in a different seat to the one you use at mealtimes. Associate that place with work. Good idea to keep work and other tasks separate. 

6. When are you most productive? Use that time wisely – do the tricky tasks in this period.  You may need to communicate your hours if they are very different to your team’s or other colleagues. Be transparent about how you will work. You don’t need to send emails constantly just to prove you are working. The outputs are more important.

7. Set boundaries. Your family needs to understand when you are at work, and your clients/colleagues need to respect when you are at home. Be firm on this.

8. Take a break. It’s so easy to work straight through when you are at home. Get away from your computer regularly and take at least a 20 minute break in the middle of the day. It’s advised to do something different every 20 minutes anyway, even if that’s to go to the loo (loo roll availability permitting!) or get a cuppa. Your brain as well as your body needs a break.

9. Exercise. Build in some time for fresh air and exercise. You want to be taking at least as many steps as you would do normally. Run or walk up and down stairs or into the garden or around the block as much as you can. Don’t get dragged down with having nowhere to go. 

10. Check in with people – on-line or in person. Working at home can be lonely – there’s lots of people in the same boat so use this as an opportunity to reach out to your network. It may even open doors that have been closed for some time. Who knows what new opportunities are lurking. 

11. Automate and delegate – When working at home, you need to spend your time where you will have the most value: Automate what you can. Packages like Mailchimp and Active Campaign can handle routine emails. Hootsuite, Meet Edgar etc. can send social media messages on your behalf. Outsource or delegate non-core activities to allow you to focus on your core business.

12. DO NOT switch the TV on until it’s your normal TV time. A bit of Loose Women at lunchtime is great if that’s what you usually put on but avoid having the TV on in the background – it WILL distract you.  

13. Learn to observe what your behaviours are. If you find yourself getting distracted, work out when this happens and what your triggers are. Stay focused for shorter periods of time – the workplace and interaction from others may be your usual habit; you need to create new habits which are helpful. 

14. And watch your mood. Whether it’s mindfulness or yoga or a walk in the fresh air, do something to keep you motivated and happy. This is temporary and it will pass. 

15.  Use WhatsApp groups or similar with your teams for instant messaging (you may wish to outline what you use if for: jokes, work only?) It means fewer emails are flying around. 

16. And remember to turn off sound as well as your screen if you’re on a video call if you don’t want people to know what’s happening at home. 

Keep healthy, productive and smiling!