Despite an increasing number of companies exercising flexibility around home-working and a projected 50% of the UK workforce expected to be 'remote' this year, homeworking can pose some unique challenges the office does not.
Earlier this week, and with little to no notice, 50% became 80%. Companies scrambled to search for workable solutions that allow their employees to continue working whilst complying with the stringent advice from Government to 'stay apart'.
And how hard could it be? All you need is an internet connection and a laptop, essentially ubiquitous entities in today's world, and you're away. However as we are all beginning to appreciate, the reality is very different. The home is full of distractions, from fridge to phone, our attention easily grabbed as time slides away.
After speaking with some of my personal training clients and from my own experience, here are some top tips for getting the most out of your day when working from home - Your day begins when you go to bed - keep your normal bed-time as if you were still commuting to work. Consider winding down for an hour before bed by reading fiction, writing a plan for the following day, stretching, taking a short walk or calling a friend or family member.
Set your morning alarm to give you at least 90 minutes before beginning work - Now you're without a commute, why not use the time to set your day up? Plan and execute your perfect morning by getting some sunlight and fresh air with 10 minutes of walking or light exercise. Take a quick shower. Drink a glass of water. Get dressed in clothes that reflect your job. Write down your intentions for the day. Take any food you need for dinner out of the freezer or even prepare your evening meal if it takes time to cook.
Keep it tidy - Procrastination comes in all shapes and sizes but housework seems to top the list. Get your work area tidy, free of distractions and keep it clean. The same could be said for the house. For some, dirty floors and windows are a real distraction. Get on top of things so you can concentrate on what matters once you're logged in.
Use the Pomodoros Technique - Most browsers have an extension to guide you through this. It's a classic case of less is more. In this case, the more is the focus, productivity and flow and the less is inefficiency. Its revolutionised my time and also just reminded me I need to turn the bolognese off...
Get your heart rate up - Being confined to the house means one thing for certain - less movement. Physical activity (daily movement, steps, housework) will undoubtedly decrease. I've noticed my step count go from its normal 13,000 down to 3,000 on days when I have needed to remain at home. Planning in specific movement - exercise - is vitally important. Ideally, use your Pomodoros Technique breaks to complete a set of 20 repetitions of an exercise you're familiar with. Change the exercise each break and by dinner time, you'll have completed a full-body workout and finished all your work. Win!
Eat a delicious lunch - I appreciate delicious means different things to different people. I'd suggest homemade soup, leftovers from dinner or a salad. My go-to is 2 tins of mackerel, heated up on a plate of spinach. It's not glamorous but I love it and I know its great for me and keeps me full. It also takes less than 60s to prepare (yes, I timed it.) and doesn't leave me wanting a siesta 2hrs later.
Consider separate browsers for work and social- The news at the moment is more concerning and important than most of us have ever known. Given we are receiving daily updates each afternoon from the PM, ask yourself how helpful it is to check the news updates every 10 minutes? Of course, the situation is ever-changing and there is real anxiety about what is to come. Consider setting a limit to how often you check-in to social media, personal email and news websites. I have decided on twice a day; mid-morning and during or after the PM's address. This way, I don't feel disadvantaged from any information and it gives me the space to work clearly.
Get to know your neighbours - Loneliness is deeply unpleasant. Consider taking the first steps towards a new friendship and knock on a neighbours door. I was fortunate to have a great chat with my 86 year old neighbour Yesterday (from her 1st-floor window of course). Knowing she can call on her neighbours over the coming months will hopefully provide some comfort and reassurance she is not alone. It's never as scary as it seems and really good things can come of it.
Be honest about how you feel - Believe it or not, people who know you will realise when something is off. We all can see when a loved one, a friend or colleague is having a bad day, sometimes before they even speak. When I am coaching, the first and most important question I try and ask is 'how do you feel?'. This is usually contextualised to the situation but regardless of the scenario, never fails to provide a wealth of information I can use to plan and make decisions. Limiting face-to-face contact means fewer instances to check-in with people and consequently fewer opportunities to speak. It's vitally important to make meaningful social contact (phone calls or even written letters) daily and have frank, honest conversations about how you feel. Our character, commitment and resolve will be tested over the coming months. I plan to be fiercely British about it, just without the stiff upper lip.
Please email or call me for more information on any of the topics above, running coaching, personal training, nutritional advice or just for a chat!