In the last few months I have been lucky enough to start working from home three days a week. Lucky, firstly, because otherwise I spend two hours driving to and from work every day, secondly because it involved moving into a job where I could work from home during the Coronavirus outbreak. My previous job would have made it less practical.
Having already transitioned to working from home some of the time meant that I had some experience when my company asked everyone who could work from home to do so. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for someone who has never had to work from home to suddenly find themselves in that position.
I can’t speak about the difficulty of not having co-workers around me. By nature I am an introvert so working in isolation feels more natural than in an open-plan-office. Although, having said that, as I am now into week two of full-time working from home, I do find myself more involved in conference calls which I used to take a back-seat in. But, on the whole, this aspect hasn’t been a struggle for me.
What I imagine will be a big struggle for some people (and still is on occasion for me) is the issue of motivation. Office life has its own structure and flow. You get in, make yourself a coffee and spend a few minutes catching up with co-workers. You do some work, you go for lunch, you do some more work and then start thinking about going home. You don’t give a lot of thought to these routines but if you look for them, they’re there. Then, suddenly, you find yourself at home with an eight hour block of time to manage and a pile of work to get done.
It can be daunting, and without a boss looking over your shoulder, it is easy to lose motivation. The key is to build your own routines.
This will take a bit of work. It’s likely that the routines of your office were there before you started and will be there long after you leave. You didn’t have to think about them, but when you’re working at home, you do.
Everyone is different, but this is what works for me:
- Get a notebook and create a plan
- Start by splitting your page in four (so three dividing lines)
- At the end of each section write break, lunch or finish as applicable
- Add your meetings into each quarter; we are aiming for four equal sections but meetings can be tricky so you need to be flexible
- Work out what times you will be taking a morning break, lunch, and afternoon break and then what time you will finish, add them to what you wrote for number three, so break @ 1045
- Fill in the other activities that you need to do in the appropriate quarter
- Add some other things in like drink water
- Stick to the plan as much as possible
- If something comes up that means you can’t stick to the original plan, such as an unexpected meeting, then, when you are next able to, adjust the written plan and try sticking to that
I have been using something similar to this for a few months now and it works well for me. It gives structure to my day and means that I get the most out of the time I am working.
A bonus tip if it’s possible for you:
10. When you finish work switch off your computer and phone