Find the right set up
Experiment with your work set up to figure out what works best for you. It is important to make sure the area you are working in is comfortable for you and free from noise and distractions. Although working from bed can sometimes be tempting it is hardly ever the most productive place to be! Make sure you have the correct equipment in your space and a comfortable chair.
Set a daily routine. Experimenting with a new setup doesn’t just mean finding out where the best spot in the house to have a desk is, but can also mean figuring out a new routine including more flexible working times which may include time for exercise, socialising and caring for other people in the house. Different tasks may seem easier to do at different times of the day, so it is important to factor this into your new routine also. It can also be useful to experiment with what you wear to work; some may favour PJ’s whilst others prefer to get into business gear.
Create work boundaries
Create work/ home boundaries. When working in your own house, it can be easy to lose your grip on your normal work life balance, and it is now more important than ever to make sure you are taking time out to relax. Here are a few tips to make sure you don’t only start to associate home with work:
- Establish office hours and share them with your colleagues, family and friends to let different people know when you are available for different things. After your hours are over, turn off your computer and close the ‘office’ if you can. This helps ensure your working space is different to where you relax.
- Turn off notifications. When you receive a notification, you can often feel as if you should respond to it immediately. Even when a notification is not important, our brain can feel tempted to respond because it feels as though we have accomplished another task. However, this can be a waste of time and can allow work and home life to become muddled.
- Turn off your personal notifications to check at lunch time and turn off your work notifications after your working hours are over. It can also be useful to delete or put limits on some apps such as social media, to limit yourself using them during working hours.
Be prepared and create accountability
Prepare for meetings. Whilst remote working, virtual and video meetings are a valuable opportunity to ask questions and get help and feedback. Therefore it is vital to be properly prepared and can help to make lists of problems and questions when they arise to then ask for solutions in the meeting.
Create accountability for yourself. When you’re working in an office, you’re surrounded by other people who could check in on your work at any moment, this can create the accountability you need to stay productive throughout the day. However, when you’re working from home it is your own responsibility to keep yourself productive, therefore you need to create accountability for yourself. Some ways of doing this are:
- Set time blocks. One of the most effective ways to stay accountable to your goals is to set blocks of time during which you will complete a task, this allows you to stay focused on your priorities and not stray too far from being productive. It can be useful to use a calendar to track and record these blocks.
- Commit publicly to tasks. Record the task on a platform that your whole team can see or tell them via email or phone what you are working on. If you’ve told other people what you’ll do, you’re much more likely to do it, rather than having to tell your co-workers you got distracted and fell behind.
- Use to-do lists. These are an old fashioned but great way of staying on top of tasks and prioritising things. Online sites such as Monday.com make it easy to write lists, prioritise tasks and let others see what you’re up to.
- Be visible. Even when working from home it is important to make the team aware when you’re online and available to answer messages and questions and when you’re not. Make sure you reply as promptly as you can and check in regularly even whilst busy.
- Keep your team up to date on your workload. If you are in the midst of working on a big task or project, let your team know. This will let them know to only contact you with queries surrounding that project and also keeps them up to date with your priorities.
- Document what you’ve done. This is as easy as writing a handwritten list of what you’ve achieved that day or week. Recording progress makes it easier to explain what you have been up to and saves for awkward silences in meetings as you try to remember what you were doing yesterday morning! As many patient groups are run voluntarily by patients or parents in their spare time, keeping a good record of what you’ve done can also be great for your mental health as it shows you just how much progress you’ve made.
Look after your health
Look after your health. For some people, working from home can feel monotonous or repetitive, so it is important to try and stay fit and healthy, mentally and physically. Otherwise, remote working can sometimes lead to quick burnout and prove unsustainable for long periods.
Make sure you put time aside to take the pressure on and focus on things you enjoy and to get outside for a little if you can. Be realistic about setting goals for yourself- just because you’re sat at home doesn’t mean you have to be productive and do all the jobs you’ve been planning for the last decade! Take time to relax.
Make sure you are eating and drinking properly and staying well hydrated in the day, it can help to eat away from your work space and set reminders to drink water often. Taking frequent breaks away from your work space and screens is also important.
Take time to socialise. Whilst you can’t currently socialise face-to-face with those outside your household, there are plenty of ways to keep in touch. Take time to be with others even if over the phone or via Skype. If you have friends or family in other time zones and need to communicate with them in working hours, ask your manager if you can work flexibly to accommodate it.