As self-isolation is the most important tool we have to slow the spread of COVID-19, many of us have traded in our morning commute for a stroll from your bedroom to the kitchen. But, turning your home into an office is tricky even in the best of times (trust us, with a lot of our teams working remotely right now, we feel you). How do you stay productive? How do you avoid distractions? What happens if you get cabin fever? Or what if there’s more than one of you in your house attempting a conference call?
Creating a daily routine that you’re comfortable with and can stick to is the key to getting through this. We’ve put together our top 10 tips to keep productivity levels up - and how to best separate work and life when they’re both happening in the same place.
1. The new 'normal'
It’s so important to hold onto the familiarity of starting your day as you would if commuting to an office. Have a standard wake-up time that allows you to shower, get changed and put your contact lenses on. It might be good to get a bit of exercise in early, as there’s no better way to really feel awake! It’s essential to give yourself time to enter the right headspace for work - not waking up 5 minutes before your morning video call (even though we love a ‘bed head’ look from a colleague on Hangouts).
2. Look the part
Speaking of video calls, here’s a rule we live by: if you stay video call-ready, you don’t have to get video call-ready! Changing out of your PJs is not only integral to getting into the work groove, but it also means you’re ready to jump on a call when needed and avoid the shirt and tie/joggers combo. Plus, it’s good to keep doing those little things that make you feel yourself in the morning, like doing your hair, putting some eyeliner on or moisturising.
3. Keep 'em separated
Pick a dedicated workspace, as it will help make the work-life divide a little clearer. Create a set-up that is comfortable, ideally with a decent chair that will support your back. Bonus point if it can be by a window, as the combo of daylight and fresh air will do wonders for your mental health. Try to keep your bed as a sacred space for sleeping and relaxing, where work is banned.
4. Plan your day
So, you’re dressed and at your work station: now’s the time to kick into gear. Make a to-do list every morning with the things you’d like to achieve and by what time - that way, you’ll have something to refer to if you get distracted. This will help you feel in-control of your day, so include a lunch break and other little breaks, as well as meal planning and household chores. Schedule stuff to look forward to after work too, even if it’s just phoning a loved one, or watching a film.
5. Set the mood
Working from home can sometimes be a little too quiet - no more eye-rolling at colleagues’ loud conversations! Or, on the other hand, your other half might be chatting away on a team call in the next room, making it hard to concentrate. You’ll need a distraction, so put your favourite playlist on, which will make it easier to focus and go down your to-do list. If you’re struggling for musical inspo, reach out to your pals and ask who’s playing on their Spotify today!
6. Keep it 20 - 20 - 20
Working from home makes it more challenging to control your screen time. Between work, Facetime with friends and all the Netflix binging: it feels like we’re constantly online. Try and alleviate digital eye strain by sticking to our favourite eye health rule: for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. Even little things like getting up for a cup of tea, filling up your water bottle or watering the plants would be enough to break screen time up a little.
7. On active duty
Exercise is so important for our mental health - especially now, where we’re spending more time at home. Whether you’re an avid runner, a yoga enthusiast or you just love a walk around the block, don’t skip the recommended 1-hour daily exercise! Plus, it’s a really achievable goal in your daily routine that will make you feel accomplished: you’ve done your part, now let the endorphins do theirs.
8. Hydration station
A tale as old as time: stay hydrated! Excuse the switch to mum mode, but drinking plenty of water throughout the day is now more important than ever.
9. It’s break time!
Taking frequent breaks so that you don’t burn out is just as important as working. If you think about it, you’re not actually working 100% of the time you’re in the office anyway (we see your strategically timed kitchen chats with Steve from finance!) Also, make sure you don’t look at anything work-related during these breaks - especially when you’re having lunch.
10. Stick to office hours
Overworking can be a real issue, so clearly define what hours you will be working and stick to them. When the day is over, sign out of your work email and instant messaging - especially if you're using your personal devices. Then, it’s good to go device-free for an hour: that way, you’ll be able to switch into social/relaxation mode and leave all work-related worries behind.