For many of us, life has changed dramatically within the past few weeks amid the corona virus outbreak.
In order to help reduce the spread, millions of us across the world have been asked to work from home. For some, what’s been classed as the “new norm” has been received as a positive move, especially for those who had been looking to transition to remote working. However for those who have not given this alternate way of working a second thought, may be feeling overwhelmed and under prepared.
After graduating university I became a primary school teacher for 8 years. Which meant that since I was 3 years old I have always been in an environment where I had to be somewhere from Monday - Friday, 40+ hours a week and told when to have breaks and when to start and finish work.
Going from 30 years of this typical routine to working from home was a pretty big change to say the least. At first I thought about all those sleep-ins I could have while everyone was stuck in traffic, or those days I could take off when it was sunny and make the most of them by getting out and about while people were locked up indoors.
Don’t get me wrong, these are some of the perks of working from home (not so much now with Covid-19), however you still need to make sure you have structure and boundaries so that you’re as productive as you can be.
Here are 6 common mistakes people make when working from home
1. Working in your pyjamas
Being productive also relies on feeling productive. If you wake up and go straight to your desk in your jim jams, your hair all wild, with sleep crusted in your eyes then I guarantee you won’t feel nearly as refreshed as you would do if you followed your usual morning routine.
Now you don’t have to get completely dressed up in a suit and tie etc, but by putting on some clean clothes, washing your face and brushing your teeth will get you feeling far more ready for the day than if you sat down straight from rolling out of bed.
2. Watching TV in the morning
If you don’t usually watch tv in the morning before work...don’t start now. You may find yourself going down a rabbit warren of news features or morning commercials. Will these add any value to your day? Most likely not, so leave them off until you have spare time.
Neglecting your health
I’ve always been into fitness and found that working out in the morning before work was best for me. This meant I got it over and done with and couldn’t come up with an excuse later on in the day when I was too tired to go to the gym. Although this all changed when I started working from home as I was no longer enticed to get up at 5.30am to go and work out and I noticed my routine slipping.
However, working from home should be an incentive to work out more. You now have more flexibility with time to do this when you feel like it. Creating a timetable or deciding before you start your day when you will do it for that day is essential. Now that most people can’t go to the gym, look to support online fitness instructors. Such as Kayla Itsines (she has an amazing home workout app that requires little to no equipment) or watch Yoga with Adriene on Youtube. Some local gyms are putting up videos so that you can follow along and at the same time support your community.
Remember though, if you spend an hour during the day exercising when you’d usually be working, you may need to add that hour of work in somewhere else, perhaps in the morning or an added hour in the evening when you may have usually gone for your workout.
Failing to create structures and boundaries
This ties in with a lot of the points I have been talking about but when working from home it’s best to set boundaries and stick to them. Whether that’s sticking to a time you want to start work, deciding on how long you will have for lunch (don’t get sucked into 2 hours of Dr Phil!), choosing when you can take breaks to talk to other people in the house (this may take some time to work on, especially if you have kids) and what time you expect to finish work.
The key here is to set up a schedule and stick to it. Make a to do list and write specific, measurable tasks. Explain your schedule to other people who may be a distraction. The idea here is to enjoy having more freedom but not at the cost of your job.
Checking social media more
Ok, so most people are guilty of checking social media during work hours...however now that you don’t have as much social interaction with your colleagues, you may find yourself checking your social accounts more and more. I’m 100% guilty of this, especially when I get to something I’m not interested in doing or I’m working on something hard. However, a bit of discipline goes a long way.
Research shows that it takes your brain a lot longer than you may think to switch from one task to another. Quickly flicking through your FB feed in fact is costing you a lot more time than you realise. Try using FocusMe or Freedom which will block your accounts during certain times of the day. This has been a game changer for me.
There are soo many great things about working from home!
Here are a list of the glorious benefits I have found:
-Setting my own schedule
-Making a cooked lunch and having time to swallow it
-Going for a walk with my dog Alfie while there’s still daylight and it’s warm outside
-Spending more time with my husband (he also works from home),
-No longer being stuck in traffic
-Choosing when I want to exercise
-Opting to work later at night and spend a few hours of the day out
-Going to a cafe to work (again, not during this time with Covid-19) and treating myself to a coffee.
The flexibility is addictive! I sometimes go back and teach from time to time and adhering to someone else's schedule can be a hard adjustment.
Whether you’re here by choice or due to the lockdown, you’ve got this!
Stay safe, work hard, stick to your goals and give it a chance. You may end up asking your boss to make this a more permanent situation.
Good Luck :)