• Olivia Hartley

5 Top tips for working from home

I can’t lie, I love working from home. I know for most of you reading this right now it’s an enforced situation that you may or may not be too pleased with. For me, that skip, hop and a jump from the kitchen to my studio, cup of tea in hand (aka the commute) is still a buzz giver. Please be aware though, I am not a guru. Daily tasks such as the washing that needs folding and the dishwasher that need emptying or even the call of the fridge for ‘snack-time’ can be distracting. So read on for how I (try) and stay productive.

1. Get dressed

This is an easy one for me as pre-lockdown, every morning I had the chaos of the school run to handle (and absolutely no-one would appreciate seeing me in my PJ/Uggs/Bedhead combo at the school gates). Even without the school run to do, every morning post-Joe Wicks workout, I get dressed for work. I find that having more formal clothing keeps me focused, feeling in the ‘work zone’ and ready for the day ahead. It also removes the embarrassment of answering the door for your Ocado delivery in your unicorn onesie. Ladies (and men), I also put a bit of makeup on – it makes me feel more together, even if it’s just a bit of concealer and mascara. We’re not talking false lashes and contouring here. But it’s better to be prepared for that ‘Zoom’ call, eh? You’re all reasonable people so I’m sure that you won’t need a separate bullet point for brushing teeth/hair/washing face etc…? Oh good.

2. Have a dedicated workspace

You may be lucky and already have a super organised study that you can transplant all your work stuff too. My guess is that lots of you won’t and a dressing table or even the kitchen table or worktop will have to make do instead. But wherever it is, make it your workspace and then stick to it. Choose somewhere where you are comfortable (but not too comfortable if you know what I mean - working in bed is an absolute no-no for your headspace). Also, choose somewhere that ideally you won’t have to clear away every-time your youngest wants to get out the play-doh or your other half is doing their best Mary Berry impression. If it is somewhere multi-purpose like the kitchen table then use a cardboard box or plastic crate to keep everything in so your shizzle is kept together. Then you won’t be wasting your productivity time looking for your stapler/files/favourite biro.

3. Use a note pad or pinboard and get list happy

Maybe you still have access to your works fancy project management app but if you don’t, or it’s not your style, then I hear ya. I need to physically cross off my achievements in the day, it just makes me feel better. And I may or may not award myself with a chocolate digestive for every five tasks completed (this is purely optional but boy does food work as a motivational tool for me). I tend to write my to-do list at the end of the previous day. This works twofold for me. It means I get productive straight away the next morning as I’m not making decisions first thing (for me another form of procrastination). It also means I sleep better. Yes, I still have those 3am ‘did I remember to email….’ moments but they happen far less when I work in this way. Plus lists are useful for carrying over uncompleted task as a reminder for the next day. Feel free to write lists for non-work-related stuff too such as ‘100 ways with a potato’ and ‘Things to do with kids indoors’ or ‘How to not murder my husband when he taps his laptop keys too loudly’. That sort of thing.

4. Have a lunch break!

Don’t be tempted to work through every day. This is proven to decrease productivity. Also, when your blood sugar levels lower, your brain becomes foggier so you make poorer decisions and may struggle to focus on the task in hand. So, move away from the workspace if you can and eat lunch at the same time each day to give yourself some structure. Eat lunch with your family or housemates, or, if you are facing this lockdown alone, FaceTime someone while eating your avo toast. Which takes me to our final tip.

5. Stay connected and get some fresh air

Sure, you may be ‘Zooming’ (surely a verb by now?) your work colleagues each day, but if like me, you work alone you may need to put extra effort into keeping connections going with your clients, suppliers and service providers etc. LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook business groups keep you sharp on how other people are working remotely, keeping up to date with industry news and just reaching out for a virtual cup of tea to connect with others in the same boat.

Last, but not least, get away from your desk regularly for a breath of fresh air. It could be a step into the garden to look at the daffodils, a venture onto the balcony to watch the cloud formations or sticking your head out the window to breathe some cool fresh air into your lungs. Remember: this too shall pass. Soon enough you’ll be back on the daily commute with your head resting in the armpit of a stranger on the tube or racking up the miles in the company motor. Just stay safe people and enjoy the small pleasures of working from home, for now.

Stay home, stay safe,

Olivia X

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