For many, working from home has been an end goal. Since I left my office job to go freelance, people’s eyes glazed over and they swooned at my new found freedom and ability to work in my pyjamas, go to appointments whenever I like and watch films on rainy days. But since the government enforced a WFH policy to curb the coronavirus spread, I wonder how many of those envious few are now desperate to return to packed tubes, a buzzing office block and weekend gossip in the communal kitchen. Because, in short, WFH is tough.
OK, not tough compared to those on the frontline or people, like my husband, who has been temporarily (or permanently) laid off, but not the dream scenario they may have pictured. I feel like I’m a bit of a dab hand at WFH now and couldn’t imagine going back to an office environment but it took me a good three months to settle into my new working environment. There was (and still is in the winter) pangs of loneliness, days when my self-motivation wanes and, yes, when I’m tired I do opt for an outfit as close to pyjamas as I can get away with!
So, I thought I’d do a quick round-up of how I carved a WFH routine that I truly love and am grateful for. Since doing these simple things, I look forward to work (evening on a Sunday night!) and have a much more productive day.
Obvious, but vital. As tempting as it is to ride the novelty of WFH and indulge in long lie-ins, it’s a sure-fire way to kill your motivation and productivity. By the time you get up, dressed and have breakfast, half the day is gone and you’ll be in the mindset to not bother with the rest of the day. Try to set an alarm like you would if you were going into work every day and stick to it.
Don’t get me wrong, if you wake up and feel down, by all means go with it and put on your cosiest clothes if that makes you feel better. But also don’t underestimate the power of getting dressed. Not only will it make you feel a bit more together and ready to tackle the day, but it’ll also mentally put you in the mind frame to work and get shit done.
CREATE A ROUTINE
When things feel completely out of your control, setting as much of a routine as possible is even more important than usual. Even if that’s as simple as having breakfast at the same time, going for an afternoon walk or an 11 am coffee, start to structure your day so your day isn’t up in the air.
CHOOSE YOUR DISTRACTIONS WISELY
How we work is very individual and now is a perfect time to work out how and when you’re most productive. For me, I like to fill the house with Classic FM first thing in the morning whilst I’m drinking a cup of tea and hot water and lemon to ease me into the day. I then find it difficult to work in silence so I’ll either keep it on all day or put on a chill out Spotify playlist that’s in the background.
I’ll only watch TV or put an episode of SATC on when I’m eating lunch and that’s it until the evening. Come 7 pm, putting Netflix on signifies the end of the working day for me. I’ll only work with a film or series on if I’m not feeling well or am really tired because I don’t get much done when it’s on.
SCHEDULE YOUR DAY
One of the most productive habits I’ve got into is writing my to-do list in the evening for the next day when my head is still in work mode. This means that when I wake up, my day is already laid out and I’m not overwhelmed or unsure of where to start.
CALENDAR YOUR TIME
If you really want to up the productivity stakes, set your time in one-hour intervals. Similar to a bullet journal, you can do this with pen and paper or via the Google Calendar app. I’ll set little reminders throughout the day to make sure I cross off more items from my to-do list.
HAVE A PLACE TO WFH
As tempting as it is to drag your laptop into bed and set up there for the day, it’s vital to segment your work life from your home life when it’s all under the same roof. Whether this is an office, a desk or the kitchen table – have a place that’s your work station.
One of the main traps of WFH is losing all track of time. It’s easy (and I often do) to just work and work and work and forget to eat, drink or make any time for exercise. I always make sure I stop for lunch, even if it’s just 15 minutes and do some sort of exercise in the afternoon or first thing. This will help with setting that routine and leave you feeling fresh and energised for the rest of the day.
FORGET YOUR PHONE
This one is tricky as a lot of my work requires Instagram and my phone in general but I have to be super careful that a quick scroll of post doesn’t lead to falling into a 2-hour TikTok hole! If I have a looming deadline, my phone goes in the next room – out of sight, our of mind!
FUEL YOUR DAY
When there isn’t a Pret or Itsu in arms reach, fuelling up for the day requires a little more time and effort. Although I love my food, when I’m WFH I need something quick, easy and healthy. This is why I’ll batch make this amazing cacao porridge recipe for breakfasts, cook a roast chicken on Sunday and have the rest in sandwiches and salads for lunch or make extra when cooking dinner that can be heated up as leftovers throughout the week.
This one I still struggle with as I have my own business but make sure you reclaim your personal time at the end of the day. If I start work later in the day, I’ll often work until about 8 pm but at that time I’ll make sure the laptop is shut, the lights are out in the office and I leave work there for the evening to avoid burnout.
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