Top Tips for Working from Home
Pamela Carvell, President of the HMA & Lifestyle Consultant, April 2020.
Some people are working from home for the first time and are totally isolated, as they live alone, while others are having to share their ‘work place’ with hyperactive children!
The tips in this article are based on my many years of working successfully from home, and at times that did include having my young son (at the time) home with me. Also, some of the tips are based on NLP * principles, which I mention, as appropriate.
Top Tips Summary
1. Wake up, and get up, at your usual time.
2. Have a clearly defined, and properly equipped, workspace.
3. Set yourself objectives each day and stick to a schedule, very much as you would at work.
4. Take a break at least once per hour and ensure it includes moving about.
5. Take a proper lunch break.
6. Incorporate exercise into your daily schedule.
7. Dress smartly and keep yourself well-groomed!
8. Communicate with others by some form of video call at least once per day.
9. Accept the fact that you are allowed to enjoy working from home.
10. Be grateful that the nature of your work enables you to work from home.
Wake up, and get up, at your usual time.
Your brain is programmed to think ‘Work day = wake up at 6am. Weekend = wake up at 9am.’ So don’t break the habit of a lifetime. Anything that sends your brain mixed messages is going to make the situation even more challenging for you. Also, if you have children at home, it’s best if they continue to get up at their usual time: not holiday time! That simple action of getting up at your usual time sends a very powerful message to your brain that it is a work day.
Have a clearly defined, and properly equipped, workspace.
You are a business professional and your workspace at home should reflect that. It also helps family members respect that space and appreciate that when you are sitting there, you are working. And, very powerfully, it sends the message to your brain that you are ‘at work’. You need to be comfortable, have great lighting, and in some cases you may need privacy. You also need to set boundaries, if you live with others, so that they respect it as your place of work. For those of you home-schooling, this approach is also important with children. Try and give them a dedicated place that they sit when they are doing schoolwork: not slouching on the sofa!
Set yourself objectives each day and stick to a schedule, very much as you would at work.
Maintain the same kind of structure that you had in your workplace. Start each week with a weekly plan and each day with a daily one. Do likewise for children, if you have them. Plan what time you will have lunch and take breaks, and what time you will finish work. This is especially important if you aren’t alone in the house. Your children wouldn’t disturb you if you were at work, and it’s important for them to respect that at home too, in the knowledge that they can join you at lunchtime or during scheduled breaks.
Take a break at least once per hour and ensure it includes moving about.
Working at home can be very intense. You don’t want to emerge from this lockdown with a bad back and poor eyesight! There are proven benefits to taking your eyes off your computer screen and standing up once an hour. Most devices have alarms that you can set. If you have young children, why not tell them that once an hour you will emerge from your ‘office’ and run around the house with them?! Tell them to listen out for the alarm.
Take a Proper Lunch Break
UK workers are very bad at taking proper lunch breaks. Not only does eating at your desk get crumbs in your keyboard and grease on your touch-screen, but it has been shown to be bad for productivity! Take a one hour break at a time agreed with the rest of your family, if relevant. Eat healthily, have some exercise and fresh air (open a window or go in the garden) & phone a friend! You’ll be amazed at how productive you are in the afternoon.
Incorporate Exercise into Your Daily Routine
Exercise is so important for physical and mental wellbeing. With most things closed and restrictions on exercise outdoors you have to adapt and embrace the change and find alternative ways of exercising. There are so many options available online such as Joe Wicks, Yoga Burn and even the NHS has a 10 minute home cardio workout. Just Google ‘exercise at home’. Make exercise part of your new daily routine.
Dress smartly and keep yourself well-groomed!
Working from home provides the temptation to throw on a tracksuit. From an NLP perspective that is a very bad idea. For as long as you have been working your brain has received a subconscious message that when you put on smart clothes you are a business professional. So aim to be well groomed and wear smart clothes. Ensure that your ‘WFH’ style is very different to what you’ll wear when the weekend comes around. Also, we will find ourselves on a lot of video calls, and impressions do count!
Communicate with others by some form of video call at least once per day.
Working from home can very isolating, especially if you are used to working in a large business or office. There are so many apps available for hooking up with others, and you simply need to make it part of your daily routine, especially with those in your team. It maintains the sense of belonging, which is so important at a time when many people are isolated from their friends and family. And it means that when normality resumes, you will still be a team.
Accept the fact that you are allowed to enjoy working from home.
Human beings don’t like change, especially when it is forced upon us, and especially when we are having to deal with all the additional stresses of these exceptional times. WFH will be the norm for many people for the foreseeable future, so the sooner you can embrace it the better. There are many advantages to it, but it does require self-discipline & self-motivation, which brings me to my final point…
Be grateful that the nature of your work enables you to work from home.
Feeling gratitude is proven to have a positive impact on mental health. In these tough times when many of the population are putting their lives on the line by going to work, and many people can’t work from home, which may mean losing a significant part of their income, it is so important to be grateful for the fact that you can work from home. Be grateful. And embrace it.
I am currently writing further articles on Maintaining Optimal Wellbeing while Working from Home and The Value (or otherwise) of Social Media in Lockdown. These will be published soon. And a longer version of this article may be found on my blog happyhypno.wordpress.com.
This article was written by Pamela Carvell, President of the HMA & Lifestyle Consultant, April 2020.
It may be reproduced in part or in full, so long as full credit is given to her and her blog: www.happyhypno.wordpress.com
*NLP = Neuro Linguistic Programming