Working from home, in this new normal, it's not easy at all
There are so many stresses and pressures on you, that aren't there when you are in the office
How do you make working from home, work for you?
1. Pick Your Work Spaces
You don't need just one, actually if you can make it work, have at least two
Now why does that help?
Well think about when you were in the office, how much you moved about the office, how many different things you saw during the day, people, objects, just a different view from that at your desk
Seeing new things, it gives you a moments rest, it distracts your thoughts, just for a moment and that's really powerful if you are having a moment of stress
Also, working from home, when there are others in the home, it's not easy!
Last week I had, two kids, two dogs and my partner all in the house together.
By having more than one space to work from, we could move around the house, keep doing what we needed to do, without interrupting each other, without frustrating each other or getting into the petty argument of who's work thing coming up was more important....
Also the children know these are our working spaces, they understand we are working so unless it's urgent, they let us get on
2. Sunlight, it's not a nice to have!
Why is getting out important? Well actually it's more than important!
Did you know that your brain responds to daylight?
Daylight is thought to increase the levels of a hormone called serotonin, which is associated with boosting your mood and helping you to feel calmer and more focused
After reading this blog, give it a try
Get outside and feel the air on your face, take some nice long deep breaths and listen to the sounds around you, what can you hear?
Just 10 minutes outside can make a massive difference
I'm a big fan of taking a brew in the garden at least once a day
3 Shut out the noise
Now noise, that's a big one at anytime!
But if you're working from home and others are too, noise can be a massive distraction
Take just now for instance as I type this blog, I've just heard my partner's phone ping!
Now that happening throughout the day, along with your own phone, email alerts etc, it's enough to drive you crackers
So firstly, zone your working spaces and wherever possible have at least one door between you so the noise levels from the other person are reduced
And this is the real gem of a tip
When you finish work, finish work!!
Turn work alerts OFF
When working from home, start and end times can get very blurred and before you know it, you are still responding to work things well into your evening
Not only is this taking away valuable recharge time for yourself, others in the house are also being disturbed by the noise
That's a pressure cooker waiting to go off
4 Movement, move about
Now, I've already mentioned the value of having if possible more than one work spot so you move around during the day, however moving between work spots won't tick the box of the amount you need to move in your day
And whilst walking to the kettle or taking a comfort break, is moving, it's not enough movement
If you've pretty much been sat working the majority of your day, you'll feel lethargic and that's just a crap way to feel
It affects your concentration levels, your positivity levels and also how well you are likely to sleep that evening
So it really is important to you, for you to move during your day
If you are looking at your diary and thinking, with all these meetings today, I can't see how I have time to leave the desk
I get that thinking
I used to have that thinking in my corporate time
Remember why you are making movement important, the value it has to you and your wellbeing
Then look again
Can you find 15 minutes in your day to do some movement?
If you can get a short walk in then you've ticked two things here, getting some daylight and moving
5 Plants - bring outside, inside
Plants are a great way of bringing outside, inside
They brighten up a space and when you have one in your workspace, it gives your something different to look at whilst you are thinking about things and organising your thoughts
And they don't reflect a work object, which if you are feeling overwhelmed by the thoughts you are having, looking at your desk plant while you mull things over will help you to calm down the speed of the thoughts, the feelings of stress and overwhelm they maybe evoking
Because, the plant, doesn't represent anything to do with work
Imagine, if instead of looking at your plant, you were looking at your to do list, or your whiteboard with your plans on it. Right when you are in the mist of thinking through things, looking at other work prompts will actually increase your levels of anxiety because you start thinking about what you are looking at as well as what you were thinking about
Now your head is swimming with thoughts and you feel you've no headspace and can't get any clarity on what to do first
So that pretty plant, it's doing more for you than you think
6 Online Meetings - Don't forget to be social
So meetings online
I don't know about you, but I've noticed during our 2 lockdowns that chatter in online meetings has got less and less, which I feel sad about
Think about heading into a face to face meeting, all the chatter that goes on before the meeting officially starts. Those little conversations that at the time you didn't think much about, where actually moments of human contact and interaction
Something we've all lost alot of during Covid times
Whilst I'm not suggesting that meetings now become a natter without focusing on the meeting purpose, remember you don't just have to dive straight into the meeting focus
Check in with each other, see how you are all doing. Ask people what's going on with them
A great one, a client of mine is doing, is each member of the team at their weekly team meetings has to come with a new joke that's not been done before (nothing offensive is the rule)
And that's started the meeting off with laughter, with smiles and has really set their team meetings up positively and something that want to do now as standard
7 When work finishes, pack your work things away and store them out of sight!
When you finished work, do you tidy everything away?
Now if your work space, is purely a work space and you can close the door on it and not need to enter until work starts the following day, that's amazing, just make sure you close the door!
But for many of us, we are working in our home space, I'm currently typing this from my dinning table
It would be so easy for me to pile my work things up and push them to the end of the table and leave them there each day
However, then throughout dinner, I can see them, even if I don't think I'm registering they are there, I am
So I'm far more likely to think of work thoughts, then think, I'll just send that email whilst I think of it, I'll just check XYZ of the to do list and before you know it...
You are back working again, during your downtime, during the time you want to spend with those at home
And when you do that regularly, guilt will wade in
1) Pack all your work things away
2) Put your packed work things out of sight for your evening
3) Turn off work alerts
4) If you absolutely can't let go of something for work and feel you MUST action it then write a note about it and put it where you work things are, you can do it first thing tomorrow! It can wait
8 Losing your commute
Now this one, I know, has surprised many of my clients
They miss their commute!
Your commute might not have been your favourite thing, you may actually have disliked it, however, what it did give you, was time each day to move from home mode to work in the morning and work mode to home in the evening
In that commute, particularly on the way home, you've processed a lot of your day, filed away what was useful, let go of things that weren't, which meant unless it had been a hell of a day, you'd come home having left work not just physically but mentally as well (not the case if work is hideous, when it's hideous, it's always there)
Now I don't know what your commute is like now, mine at most, if I'm working upstairs is 13 steps!
13 steps from being Cathy at work, to Cathy at home
Even if I walked the slowest I possibly could, that's not going to take anywhere near the time I used to have which was 20 minutes
And I need that time to switch off from work and needing that time, it's okay!
Are you missing the time your commute gave you to process your day and feeling that you need it back?
Then plan in that time, finish work when you would of and then do something that takes up the time you would have been commuting to process your day
An idea of what to do is listen to an audio book.
Several of my clients used to hate their commute until I suggested they used to the time to listen to an audio book, which they absolutely loved and have done so ever since
And for those that currently don't have a commute, they are still having the time each day to listen to their current audio book and finding that massively helpful in switching off from their working day
9 Ask about each other's day
When you've been about each other all day, it's easy to forget, that you've been about but not together, so you've not had the same day at all
I ask everyone at dinner each day "what was your favourite thing today?"
It's great because not only does that mean we are share our days, we also focus on the most positive thing that happened in our day, which means if we've had a tough one, it boosts how we are feeling
It's also a great way of showing each other support and interest, without making anyone feel forced to share their day, so even if right then, they don't share something that didn't go well, they are more likely to at a later date, because they didn't feel pushed to share it before they were ready.
10 Discuss your work day plan the night before, what's on for each of you, then you won't get in each other's way the same
I'm a big believer in communicating your needs before hand, it prevents issues and conflict later
Have you felt like you've been expected to be a mind reader for your partner's needs during lockdown?
Now you think about it, have you communicated your needs clearly and timely?
A lot of bickering and grudge formation can be prevented, if you share what your needs are, before you need them to be met
When co-sharing workspace at home, this becomes even more vital
If one of you is in a meeting and the other is stacking the dishwasher making a racket, tempers may flare
So share what your work day is like, the evening before. I know that what is going on in your day can change, but by sharing what you anticipate is going to happen and the needs you have as a result, other's in the house can take that into consideration
And, quite possibly the most important tip in this entire blog, agree your brew rota, it's very important
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