How to work from home

Effective working from home tips for you and your mental health

So, let me start off by saying that this is a completely unprecedented time in many of our lives. Whether you are a Baby Boomer, Gen X, a Millennial or Gen Z, the likelihood is that in the UK you have never been enlisted by the government to do anything and on a global scale. Understandably, it’s a scary time full of uncertainty.

As a marketeer, I believe that I am one of the lucky ones. I fall into the category of being able to do much of my work from anywhere providing I have a laptop and an internet connection. If you are also in this category, then this article is for you. I am about to provide a list of tips that make my working from home not only effective but also good for my mental wellbeing in this anxiety-inducing time.

  • Make a list

Okay, okay, I know – an obvious place to start, but hear me out. How many of us truly can list off the top of our heads every single task we do in the office day-to-day? Sometimes, it takes a list to jog your memory on the little things that make you go “oh yeah! I do do that”, so make a list. What are the every-day tasks that you need to complete? This is your core service offering, it’s the tasks that you have to do every day.

After you have your day-to-day, then you need to think about the one-offs. The jobs that may be large or small, but you only have to do once. Write those down. These can be the things that you usually just don’t have time to do when you’re in the office, for example, one of the “one-offs” in my list is simply “organise my shared drive folder”. It’s a mess. Filenames inconsistent, things not in folders, archived documents mixed in with the live documents. I know, shameful. I apologise.

  • Find a good spot

A short and simple one really, but when you are in work-mode, it is important that you have a spot to work from where you can concentrate and get your tasks done; this is highly subjective and can be different for everyone, but you know how you work best. Some people are fine with a bit of noise distraction and can work with the TV on, some people can’t. Figure out what works for you.

  • Pace yourselves

As I said up there, this is an unprecedented time; beating Coronavirus or COVID-19 (despite this name, it’s actually only the 7th coronavirus that we’ve heard of, we only knew of 6 before it. The “19” comes from the year it was discovered) will be a marathon, not a sprint.

Drawing parallels from this, your workload should also be divided into manageable chunks where you can save some for other days. I personally actually work faster at home without the distractions of the office, and a task that could take me 3 hours there only takes me 2 hours max from home. I could storm through my list ⅓ faster than usual, so I pace myself. Divide your tasks on your list into days of completion, and when you’re done for that day, stop.

  • Prioritise

We all know that the best-laid plans can often go off on a tangent, you may get some non-routine tasks assigned to you with high priority. For this, use your best judgement. Perform the tasks with the higher priority and push the rest of your tasks back a day if you need to. Conversely, if the ad hoc task you have been assigned is not as important as one of the tasks on your list, then assign it an appropriate place in your list and let the person know who assigned you that task that you’ll complete it on “x” date because you are prioritising “y” task.

  • Schedule breaks

So, this one might vary depending on the rules that your workplace has regarding timekeeping, but this one ties in with “pace yourselves”. It is very important what I’m about to say so I’m going to bold it.

Have a tea/coffee/whatever you’re in to. Have your breakfast/lunch/snacks away from your workstation. Go outside in your garden or go for a walk (according to Boris, you are allowed outside once per day for exercise purposes) if it’s nice weather then experience it responsibly, don’t just look at it through your window. Take a moment to be mindful, remember, mindfulness is not all meditation and yoga – it can be anything that makes you happy to be in the moment; playing with your pet, spending time with your children, whatever works for you. Do all these things in between tasks without worrying “what if I get a call from work”.

  • Communicate

Again, this is a simple one but talk to each other. Today, it is easier than ever to communicate with people even when confined to your home. Have team meetings via a video chat service, air your thoughts, worries and concerns with a colleague or a friend. Be there for each other.

Finally, this is not so much of a tip but imploration from me personally; please stay safe. If you’re unsure, follow the government guidelines and the advice/policies of your organisation, don’t get all your news from social media, or your friend’s cousin’s neighbour’s auntie said “this”. As a nation, we are famous for keeping calm and carrying on. We will get through this together if we are all mindful of one another.

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