Five no-nonsense tips for surviving working from home
The world is topsy turvy right now. Hopefully, if you are reading this you are following the government guidelines wherever you are, and pretty much staying home 99.99999% of the time. For the lucky ones among us (or unlucky depending on your perspective), technology means we can work and run our business from home without too much difficulty.
For the uninitiated, and frankly also for those of us who have been doing this a long time and sometimes (cough) slip into bad habits, working from home can be daunting. All the more so when there is no prospect of heading out in the evening to unwind and socialise.
So how can we stay sane in the time of Corona?
*** Disclaimer: I don’t have any children or pets running wild at home (unless you count my other half…) so extra strategies may be needed. Try not to be too tempted to use restraints. ***
I am a person who craves structure. Yep. I also love organised fun. And lists. Lots of lists. Although some friends and family members like to berate me for not attending XYZ at the drop of a hat during working hours as they see my job as “flexible”, I keep a fairly rigid daily schedule with defined start and end times. Drawing a distinction between work time and you time when you work where you live is crucial – otherwise you will never be able to switch off. Believe me, that way madness lies. Unless of course you are a superhuman who is impervious to stress. If so, what are you doing reading this?!
You should probably get out of your pyjamas and wash your hair too. Unless Stig of the Dump is your style icon, in which case be my guest.
At the start of the week I write a to-do list for the whole week. It’s long and specific. Each morning (or even the night before), I look at the list and decide what I need to do that day. Don’t overload yourself, the key is to break tasks down into manageable chunks or you will be overwhelmed and end up sobbing in a duvet fort and binge watching the latest crap on Netflix (just me?).
Create some accountability by looking back on what you have done at the end of the week. My pretty pretentious ‘Friday reflections’ are non-negotiable. I even block the time out in my calendar which means I can’t ever skip it. Fact.
You aren’t superhuman. Don’t slog away for 6 hours with no breaks. Your bladder won’t thank you. Neither will your back.
I normally work for 45 minutes with laser focus and then have a 15-minute break. And repeat. And try not to fall down a social media hole in the work slots. Those cats can be damn distracting though…
A friend recently recommended the Pomodoro technique, which I’m planning to try soon. See here: https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique
The name just reminds me of how tasty tomatoes are though, and my mind wanders and stomach starts to rumble.
Yumm. Where was I? Oh yes. Make sure you set aside time for a proper lunch break – and no peeping at your emails while you eat! Guard your break time jealously like a dragon guards its shiny hoard.
However you choose to get it, YOU MUST exercise when you are stuck at home. There are (probably) trillions of videos on YouTube for beginners through to HIIT masters, so you have no excuse. I’m currently doing a 20ish minute HIIT video from Joe Wicks each lunch time. If I can put up with how extremely irritating he is, you can too.
If you want something slower and less likely to induce rage, Yoga with Adriene is an absolute winner. Who knows, you might do better than me and manage some inner peace. If not, it’s a good way to stretch out the kinks and mitigate your grotesquely contorted sitting position at your un-ergonomic kitchen table.
There’s a big but. Almost as big as Kimmy K’s. Which is why number 5 is…
Despite my fanatical structure obsession, even I recognise that sometimes stuff just doesn’t go to plan. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick to your schedule or tick a gazillion things off your to-do list, and just end up staring vacantly and yearningly out of the window at the manky pigeon hopping around enjoying its freedom.
Be kind to yourself and, in the words of the very wise Adriene, find what feels goooood.
Unless it’s eating 10 cookies a day, every day, for the entire lock-down period, then probably don’t do what feels good. But hey, I’m not judging (much). (Also where are you sourcing those cookies from? The black market??).
I REALLY like following rules. And I particularly like it when other people follow rules too. So if it helps, imagine me standing over you cracking the proverbial whip (not like that, get your mind out of the gutter). Or I can tell you off for procrastinating over Skype, if that’s your bag (it's josephina.worrall).
If you have any other suggestions for how to stay (relatively) sane, then send ‘em my way. If you want to chat, I’m all ears. I’ll take anything to get me out of the guitar lessons my “thoughtful” other half has offered to give me.