Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started to struggle to travel to work five days a week on top of working full time, and my company kindly said I could start to work from home a few days a week, which was a huge relief.
To start with, I struggled to get it right, but soon put some rules into place which meant that I think I was more effective working at home than I was in the office sometimes, and I wanted to share them with you.
1) Do the washing up the night before
My kitchen is part of my lounge/office space, and being a bit of a clean freak, it is nigh on impossible to ignore last night’s washing up while sitting at my desk.
Try to remove all housework distractions before you go to bed, so that you have a clear working space for the morning.
2) Have a shower and get dressed
If you’re not going out all day, I’m not suggesting that you need to put a full face of make up and a suit on, but bleary eyed in your PJs is not conducive to a work frame of mind. Trust me, I tried, and all I wanted was a nap.
3) Set working hours
I was working full time and had no children at home, but being quite strict about working hours really helped me. To start with, I would quite often still be at my laptop at 7pm when Mr M came home and I should have been finished by 5pm.
Although I thought I was working hard, sitting at my desk for that long just made me less effective, and also meant I had cabin fever by the time I went back to the office. So I learned to shut down at 5pm and get out. I go to the stables, but even a walk around the block would create that mental break that you need in order to enjoy your evening.
I guess this isn’t as easy if you are working part time around child care, but perhaps if your little one naps at a similar time each day, or goes to nursery or nanny’s for a few hours, get your work in then, rather than putting that wash on, putting the hoover round etc.
4) Create a dedicated working space
We picked up a cheap desk and chair from Ikea, where I have everything I need for a day’s work, and I don’t move from there. In bed, on the sofa, in the garden… Apart from giving you terrible back ache after a while, your brain just won’t be in work mode.
5) Try not to tell too many people you are working from home
People who don’t work from home don’t get it. I stupidly told friends when I was given the permission to work from home, and the majority of them just thought I was not working. ‘Do you fancy lunch today honey?’ ‘Are you home today, can I pop in for coffee?’ texts came flooding in from day one.
Eventually I had to explain that I work from 9am to 5pm and just as they wouldn’t visit the office for a coffee, they couldn’t really come to my flat during working hours.
5) Have regular breaks
Office life gives you natural breaks when your colleagues start up a conversation about One Born Every Minute last night, or you get up to do the tea round. If you are on your own, you still need those natural breaks to keep your brain fresh and working, so get up and walk around the garden, or call your partner for a quick chat – anything to break up your day.
6) Turn the TV off
To start with, I constantly had the TV on as I thought it would keep me company and break the silence.
Then one day, I had turned it off for some reason and realised that I got so much more done that day. Your brain can’t focus on too much at once, and having This Morning on will keep drawing your concentration away from the task in hand.
Music streaming works for me, to break the silence, as there isn’t any chatter to distract, but experiment with the radio, playlists, nothing at all, to see how you work best.
Do you have any tips for working from home?