Working from home is often seen as a treat. If I had a pound for every time someone told me that I was 'lucky' to work from home, I'd have enough money to donate a single bog roll to every household in Manchester. Never did I think we'd see the day where that was considered a generous gift but hey, welcome to 2020, people.
As a seasoned homeworker, for me, working at home is not a treat. In fact, far from it. If there was an option for me to work from an office, trust me, I'd be there. As an extrovert, I get all of my energy from being around people. That means that when I'm on my own, I feel drained pretttyyyyy quickly. Also, as someone with anxiety issues, an empty, quiet flat gives me a hell of a lot of time to think (or overthink, should I say). It's less of a treat and more of a daily endurance test. But hey, I love the charity I work for and this is the price I pay to help those in need.
As someone who works from home but hates it, I've had to develop a number of techniques for coping. With more and more people being forced to work from home as the dreaded c word disrupts every part of our normal daily lives, I wanted to share a few things I try and stick to for getting through the 9 to 5.
1) Explore the rooms in your house
I know the idea of working from bed sounds like a dream, but for me, I find nothing more uninspiring than looking at the same wall in my bedroom all day every day. In fact, working from my bedroom can soon give me a serious case of cabin fever, especially now I have no gym to escape to at the end of the day. I think it also ruins the idea that my room is a place to relax. Instead, I associate my room with the anger or anxiety I might feel after an inconvenient or annoying work situation I've had to deal with (you know the kind that makes you bash the keyboard so hard that you think it's going to pop out).
So, I make an effort to mix it up as often as I can. I might set myself up in the lounge or, weather permitting, I'll set up a little work area outside. Don't be afraid to mix up where you're working, especially if your energy comes from your surroundings, like me. I think we can draw the line at the bath though maybe. No one wants to be the person who has to explain how the laptop got submerged in 40cm of warm water...
2) Turn on the radio/Spotify etc
Some people like total silence when working as they find noise to be distracting. I, however, do not. I find listening to the radio, especially, increases my productivity. It certainly makes boring tasks a little more exciting when you get to bop along to some of your favourite tunes. Plus, it's hard not to work to your full potential when you've got Lizzo telling you you're '100% that bitch'. Yes, Lizzo, yes I am.
3) STICK TO YOUR WORKING HOURS
When your laptop is just there, staring at you in the corner of the room, it can be tempting to log on early or stay on past 5pm to 'just send a couple of emails'. Just like you would a message from your ex, IGNORE IT. Trust me, it's never 'just a couple of emails'. Before you know it, you've been online for an extra hour or two than needed, time you won't be paid for. Your time is precious. Guard it like Brienne guarded Sansa (and if you don't get that reference, what better time to get stuck into Game of Thrones than when you're self isolating. You WILL NOT regret it.)
You might also see your colleagues working out of hours. Let them. If they're silly enough to do extra work that they won't be paid for, let them crack on. You'll probably find their mental health suffers a lot more quickly than yours does. Protect yo'self.
3) AND TAKE YOUR LUNCH BREAK
Now this is something I am very strict about. It's really important to disconnect from work for an hour or half an hour (however long you get). Spend this time doing something that is relaxing and completely unrelated to work. Be sure to close those god damn emails too! You think Oprah would let someone encroach on her 'me time'? No, so neither should we.
For a little bit of inspiration, some of my favourite things to do on my lunch break include cooking, catching up on a TV series I'm watching, watching a documentary, mindful colouring, going for a walk or exercising. Do whatever you need to do to help you reset for the second half of the day.
4) Don't be afraid to pick up the phone or jump on Skype
One of the things I struggle with the most when it comes to working from home is human contact. My immediate team work across the UK so I can't exactly pop down the road for a cuppa to vent my frustrations or bounce ideas off of them (I'll be honest, it tends to be the former because, well, people can be hella annoying).
I have found that when I work from home, the things that worry me or SEVERELY piss me off just fester for the rest of the day, chipping away at my sanity. Unlike when you're in an office where you can vent these anxious thoughts or frustrations to someone sat directly across from you, working from home alone doesn't give you that luxury. So, to combat this, I've learned to pick up the phone a lot more often just to get stuff off my chest, there and then. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you when you're being a dickhead or when someone else is being a dickhead. Obviously, it is always the latter.
At this very weird time, Skype might be the better option. Don't underestimate the importance of seeing a human face! But a word of advice from me, as someone who has heard some horror stories- make sure you're presentable for the camera. Dressing gowns, that can open, are not your friends...
5) Go for a walk or a run
Never underestimate the power of a bit of vitamin D. I personally find the fresh air helps me to clear my head and sets me up for the rest of the day. It doesn't have to be a 5 mile hike, but even a 20 minute walk around the block would do. I know we all need to practice social distancing (like we REALLY do for anyone who still isn't getting the message) but if you are healthy and you have no symptoms related to the bloody c word, going for a walk or for a run is a good way to take a break from your laptop. If you don't want to walk alone, schedule a call with a friend or catch up on your favourite podcast which really should be Shagged, Married, Annoyed, may I add. I dare you to listen to it without laughing. If that doesn't lift your spirits, I just do not know what will.
Walking like the gentleman below is optional, but encouraged for extra feel good vibes...