Distinguish between work and home mode
One of the biggest perks about working from home – slowly moving from bed to the sofa five minutes before you start – can also be your biggest challenge. Don’t forget that you are there to work – so get yourself up the right way, get dressed and brush your teeth at the start of the day rather than sitting in your pyjamas for eight hours. Try switching from home to work mode, by having something you physically do to flip the switch. Maybe it’s walking around the block, making a special kind of tea, or lighting a candle at your desk. It doesn’t matter what it is but do it without fail to create a strong association in your mind.
Be realistic about what you can achieve
A wide, open day working from home can feel full of possibilities. 145 things on the to do list? No problem. Don’t fall into the trap of being over-ambitious. Instead be realistic, you are more likely to achieve more than you set out to do; and feel satisfied, rather than disappointed you didn’t do everything. Why not try to select three to five things form your list to do and aim to get the majority of these done by lunchtime. We all slowdown in the mid-afternoon and having a lot of your list under your belt will give you the momentum to power through.
Work in short bursts
In school your day is broken up by timetables to meetings to water-cooler chats, lunch breaks and even toilet breaks, but when you are at home on your own with no face-to-face interaction planned it can be easy to just work for long, unbroken periods. To be productive, impose structure on yourself. For example, working in 45-60 minute chunks of focused work followed by a short break. This can be an effective way to break the day up and maintain your concentration levels.
Don’t forget to take breaks
It can be difficult to tear yourself away from your laptop if you’re worried people might think you are slacking off, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take breaks. Just because you’re feeling comfy at home, it doesn’t mean you don’t need a proper break. Leave your desk/work area for lunch and take advantage of being at home to walk the dog and blow the cobwebs away for half an hour in the afternoon. You’ll return feeling refreshed and more than productive for the rest of the day. This also includes making sure you make time to make a proper meals and drink water regularly, rather than snacking continuously throughout the day and then crashing in a sugar slump at 3 pm.
Being in a school gives us a limited number of ways to get distracted but when you work start working in a new environment (especially a very familiar one0 it can be easy to let yourself get distracted. There are a lot of potential distractions when we work from home, so try and proactively manage things which might interrupt your focus. Keep them limited to short breaks in between chunks of focused work. A change of scene is all we need to give our brain a break, and it’s the perfect time to put a load of washing on or empty the dishwasher.
Working from home doesn’t mean you cannot stay connected. If you’re the kind of person who’ll miss your colleagues when you work from home, build opportunities for socialising in to your day. Try calling colleagues rather than just simply relying on email messaging. If you really struggle to apply yourself when you’re on your own, try “virtual budding” – connect with a colleague via Microsoft Team video call but both work “live” on your own project rather than chatting.