Is working from home causing you to pull your hair out? In, the past week all our lives have completely changed, and we are all being asked to do things we have never experienced before. One of these things is to work from home. Now, if your employer asked you 6 months ago to work from home for a few weeks or months you would have relished the idea, but now it is reality and in many cases, you are having to home school children too it isn’t exactly living the dream. But, don’t stress as here are some practical positive steps to help you get motivated, organised and amuse the children too.
1. Get up, showered and dressed.
It can be just too easy to stay in your PJ’s all day and laze about catching up with what is on your planner, while your tablet or laptop sits idol on your lap.
The first, thing you need to do is get up, have a shower and get dressed, just like a normal day. Put a brush through your hair and have a cup of tea or coffee or juice and some breakfast to motivate you and get your brain engaged.
Now you need to have a dedicated work-space in the house where you can organise your workstation and a place where you can focus.
2. Get organised
The key to working from home successfully is to be organised. Have a planner on your wall or a diary or calendar to hand with all the tasks that need to be done that day. List them in terms of priority and then as each task gets done tick them off and give yourself a little break as a reward and to refresh yourself.
Be realistic with the time-frames you give yourself for each task, if you don’t you will feel de-motivated. Factor in breaks for yourself and to entertain/home-school children. Your working day may not be the usual 9-5. While working from home give yourself a little flexibility, especially if you are fitting in home-schooling and entertaining children too.
3. Music is the key to setting the mood
Your work-space is key to how motivated you will feel. My work-space has a lot of natural light and a radio nearby.
I find the view of my garden and the natural light helps motivate me to get through the day. The radio also helps me stay connected with the outdoor world and it is great to listen to callers and get an insight into their lives, while listening to some of your favourite music too
4. Remove the distractions
This is a tough one, especially if you have young children in the house.
You ideally need a space where you can work without any distractions. But if you are a single parent and you need to keep your children amused, my advice is to try and work when they are either watching a film or engaged in an activity where you can keep an eye on them, but concentrate on your work tasks too. Now, as of March 2020, Disney+ has a 7-day free trial. This is helping me, for now, free up some time while keeping others amused for a couple of hours a day.
Another good tip is to try and involve your children. Maybe get them making you a creative planner or give them a creative task, so they feel involved in what you are doing too. What I do is give them a job title and some basic tasks and they will feel involved and that they have some importance in what you are doing. You may find like me, that they end up being the boss of you.
I also tend to do some work when they are in bed. It can mean unsocial hours and I am more of a night owl, but it does give me time to concentrate and get ahead for the next day.
5. Take regular breaks
Don’t go on and on for hours and hours staring at a screen with no breaks, this will do you know favours and you will become de-motivated and less pro-active.
You need to have regular breaks and get some exercise. It is those of us who take regular breaks that will get more done, as when you get some exercise, even if it is just doing some housework or a blow of air in the garden or fitting in a yoga YouTube video, you will feel more motivated when you do go back to work.
Look at taking a break every hour. Have a drink and something to eat, as this will help keep your brain healthy and food and drink is vital to your concentration levels.
6. Email Management
Don’t get into the mind-set that your inbox needs to be empty for you to be finished work. Your inbox will constantly fill up each day, but only a handful of those will be a priority for you to read.
Check your emails at set times. For me I check it between 9 am – 9-30 am in the morning and then 5.30 pm – 6 pm. I action the important emails and then archive anything that is marketing or junk and then move to a separate folder anything that can be actioned tomorrow.
A good tip is to reply to emails at the end of your working day, if possible. That way people won’t reply straight away, and it gives you some breathing space.
If you are working with a remote team by WhatsApp, Asana, Slack or a similar app to communicate, try not to let it take over your life. Treat them just like emails and have set times to sign in and look at messages.
7. Group similar activities
In today’s technological world group chats on Zoom and Skype are the norm. Try and block book these for times when you know the children will be amused and not too tired. I try and block out time from 10.30 am – 11.30 am and then 4 pm – 5 pm. I have just worked out these are the quietest times when I won’t get disturbed too much.
8. Get Outside
This is a tough one with the lock-down. If you have a garden, get outside and stretch your legs with some exercise. Do some gardening or run about with your kids or animals. If you haven’t got any outdoor space, open some windows and let the fresher airflow though and get moving about. If you can, at the moment of writing this article you are allowed out once a day to exercise for a short period, so use this time wisely.
Some fresh air and exercise will do your physical health and your mental health the power of good, so don’t forget to take some time for yourself and look after your health and wellbeing.
9. Bored children
The most import thing to do is have a schedule and explain to your children how things are going to work and answer their questions. Plan your day around when the children will be playing, when you need to do homeschooling and when they will have some downtime. Take calls in the downtime and when it is playtime take some time away from the desk and get involved. If they get your attention then, they will be happier to be quiet in front of a film later. A routine is a good thing for everyone, and it will also keep some structure to your day.
If you are like me and have video calls and phone calls to take daily reserve film and TV time for when you know you need to take one of these calls. I have headphones that children can use for when I am on a call, so the house sounds quiet and I sit where they are in view and I can listen out to hear if anything does happen when I am on a call.
Have a way of making it clear to children when they cannot disturb you. I have drawn up a red stop sign and put it on my desk when they need to be quiet. They understand when that is there it is a quiet time for watching TV.
I have a “busy box of treats” and if they are good, they will get a treat. It can be a sweet treat, creative activity or the chance to download a new film. I have signed up to the Disney+ free trail which is available as of March 2020. I have allowed for 2 films per day if they are good as a treat.
Make the most of nap time, if your children are at an age when they take an afternoon nap. It is surprising what you can achieve at this time.
Let colleagues and clients know you have children, so they expect some noise and that you may get distracted at some point.
I am not saying that it will be easy working from home if you aren’t used to it, especially if you have children at home too, but it is possible to get everything done with some patience and creative thinking.