Welcome to a glimpse of an apocalyptic world! With the Corona virus rendering everyone housebound due to the lockdown imposed by the South African government, many of us may find ourselves working from home for the next 21 or so days. As good as the whole “working from home thing” may sound, it does come with its own set of challenges; motivation being the biggest one. As someone who works from home fairly often, I am going to share some of the tips I have learned along the way to help you work from home effectively.
1. Get out of your Pajamas
It may be tempting to stay in your pajamas all day because hey, you aren’t going anywhere or seeing anyone so you might as well be comfortable right? But, although donning that old Mad Dog sweatshirt from 10 years ago might seem like a good idea, it is not. Getting changed into ‘regular clothes’ is all about putting yourself in a good mental headspace. Think about it this way, Clark Kent only becomes Superman when he loses the glasses and puts on his Superman outfit, same concept (well kind of). What I am trying to say is that getting dressed in the morning when you wake up, although seemingly trivial, makes you feel like you have already accomplished something for the day. It signals to your brain that you are ready for action and are now in ‘work mode’. Also, you don’t want to be caught off guard if someone tries to video call you.
2. Set an alarm
Humans are creatures of habit who hate change. As such, many of us need a routine to give us a sense of purpose each day. This is where your alarm clock comes in because setting your alarm in the morning is crucial to starting off your daily routine the right way. While you may be tempted to sleep in a little when working from home, this is a trap you don’t want to fall into. It’s important to set your alarm like you would every other day and get up at a reasonable time. You don’t want to be waking up at 10 and feeling like you have wasted your day and now need to play “catch up”.
3. Create a designated workspace
If you don’t have a designated home office that you can work from, then at least set up a quiet, private space dedicated to work. This is so you, and those pesky family members of yours, know that when you are sitting at your “office” then you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed. It’s also important to separate your workspace from your personal space, so you can consciously “take a break from work” if you need to and you don’t feel like you are “ON” all the time. It’s all about setting healthy boundaries.
4. Leave the fridge alone
Working from home can require extra concentration because all the creature comforts in your life are only a few meters away. The first place many of us go to when we are at home feeling stressed, bored or in need of comfort is, yes you guessed it, your fridge. Rather than going to the fridge and snacking unnecessarily, why not pour yourself a glass of water or make yourself a cup of coffee.
5. Put on a Documentary, YouTube Video or Podcast
What many people don’t understand about working from home is that you don’t have an “office buzz” to feed off and it can be rather isolating and lonely. To help combat this, I usually put on an educational or business-related podcast, documentary or YouTube channel. It not only keeps me company in the background but it keeps my brain stimulated while I work because I am passively learning. Try not put on a series or movie, and rather save that for your downtime. The reason being is that if you have put on a series and have spent all day working with it on in the background, then you aren’t going to want to watch anything when it comes time to chill.
6. Limit your personal cellphone use
Whenever we are feeling bored or looking for a way to distract ourselves, the first place we often go is to our cellphone. Trust me the Facebook vortex is a real thing. Instead of picking up your phone every 3 seconds to see what’s going on in the world, rather designate specific times to do so. If you don’t need to make calls or be in contact with anyone, then I would suggest putting it in another room. If you do need to be available on your cellphone, then put it face down on the table or out of arms reach so you aren’t tempted to pick it up.
7. Take regular breaks (away from the fridge)
Working and living in the same environment can be tougher than most realise because the lines can become blurred. Remember, although you may find yourself being more productive than ever before, it is still important to take regular breaks as they are extremely important for your mind and soul. Mentally resetting by going for a walk outside, doing a bit of exercise, doing a short meditation or taking 10 minutes to play with your dog and/or kids can help maintain a healthy work-life balance.
8. Video Chat with a Co-worker
As humans, we are inherently social creatures (yes, that includes you Introverts). Whether we realise it or not we all crave connection in some form or another. This means working in isolation without contact from the outside world, will, over time, have some sort of emotional impact on us. To combat this, why not form a “buddy system” with a co-worker and skype or video call them on a regular basis. This way you can keep each other motivated, hold each other accountable and you will also have someone to share your experiences with or bounce ideas off.
Working from home, if you have never done so before, can be exciting because it is a novel concept. But, you need to be prepared for once the novelty wears off and you are forced to face the reality of it. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that is going to work for everybody so be patient with yourself and don’t be scared to experiment with different routines and ideas until you find ones that work for you.