It dawned on me this week (yes, I am sometimes that slow) that working from home is a new concept for a lot of people but something I have been doing on and off for years. In my previous life as a project manager I would occasionally work from home when I needed to focus on something with minimal interruptions - being in an open office can have its challenges. As an author I now spend all my time typing away in our spare bedroom. So in the spirit of sharing and caring, here are my top tips for working from home.
1. Set and stick to a routine – whilst it may look and feel like the longest of weekends it’s not and you are meant to be working. So setting a start time, break and lunch times will help to give your day structure. Try not to work all hours, this isn’t healthy and it’s not sustainable. Stop working at the time you would usually leave work.
2. Drink plenty – this does not mean gin or wine (unless you are editing a book then this is completely acceptable). I have a regular supply of tea but I also try to drink water. Leaving your seat to get a drink also provides a little break from the screen see next point.
3. Take regular breaks – if only to stretch your legs and avoid deep vein thrombosis. It’s good to give your eyes a rest from the screen and it’s hard to concentrate for hours on end. Go and do star jumps for a couple of minutes and you’ll feel energised… or get another cup of tea, either is good.
4. Sit properly – I don’t mean to sound like a schoolteacher, but this will make a difference. If you are slumped or overstretched, you will cause yourself backache. So find somewhere where you can sit with your eyes at the right angle for your screen, your back supported and your feet flat on the floor. Your chiropractor will thank you.
5. Use natural light – if you can then sit by a window. It’s better for your eyes and it’s far more pleasant than staring at a wall. However, watch out for distractions. It’s amazing how engaging sparrows can be when you are bored.
6. Dress comfortably – You’re at home, make the most of it. Yes, you can wear pyjamas, unless you have your annual review with your boss by video call then maybe not. Otherwise wear what you like.
7. Let others in the house know you are working – this is a tricky one. Other people at home will treat it like it’s the weekend and interrupt you. Try to manage their interactions. At breakfast I share what I’m working on that day and hopefully convey whether it’s a day I can take some interruptions or one where I need to be left alone. I find a sign on the door also helps as a reminder when they reach for the handle because they must show you a funny dog meme.
8. Biscuits and other snacks – personally I think they are essential to working from home. They are a lovely perk but need rationing or your bum will grow to the size of a bouncy castle and you will have to be craned from your home under the watchful eye of neighbours and possibly local television news.
Have fun and stay safe.