Working from home tips: 10 simple steps for upping your productivity

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  • Aka, how to conquer WFH fatigue

    If this week is anything to go by, the UK has officially reached peak WFH. Tweet after tweet details just how sick people are of a third lockdown and a third round of working from home with no end in sight.

    If you’ve got noisy neighbours that are setting your teeth on edge, constant backache from working on your Ikea kitchen stools, and total Microsoft Teams fatigue, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Some companies are even rolling out call free days in an attempt to ease the WFH dread.

    While everyone’s stance on working from home full time will differ slightly, one thing’s for sure: not having the choice of popping into the office, or to a coffee shop, or to your local WeWork, sucks. And that’s before we even get started on juggling the Zoom socialising and home-schooling situations…

    So, without further ado, let our expert guide to how to work from home help. We bought you stress management techniques and self-care ideas. Next up: your working from home bible. Sure, you’ve been doing it for a while now, but these smart and simple tips might just help get you out of that slump.

    Keep reading.

    10 working from home tips to ease your 2021 slump

    1. Book in regular meetings

    Though working from home may give you a welcome distance from office politics, never underestimate the importance of interpersonal contact in your working day.

    ‘If you’re an extrovert, you might need company after only a short time,’ says Judy Heminsley, author of Work From Home. ‘Introverts tend to be happier in their own company, so it’s important to regularly plan contact into your diary, even if that means phone calls right now.’

    2. Respect your boundaries

    Similarly, loads of you are feeling totally depleted right now, with many across the UK suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and even low-grade depression.

    If you’re not up for Zoom calls every day and would rather get your head down and crack on with work, communicate that to your manager. They’re obliged to listen and help in the best way they can (our guide to how to have difficult work conversations over Zoom might help).

    3. Avoid social media during work hours

    When there’s no face-to-face time booked in, you might feel tempted to be keeping in touch with people via social media, explains occupational psychologist Suzy Dale. ‘Check in with others remotely at least once through social media and emails,’ she says. ‘But do remember your boss could be watching. The temptation to start scrolling Facebook and Instagram might be high, but apply the same common sense approach as you would in your workplace.’

    4. Dress to impress

    You’re not expected to pick out your best skirt suit and splash on a full face of make-up for a day in front of your laptop – the WFH loungewear look is going strong – but Suzy recommends getting dressed like you normally would when heading into the office. ‘While working in your PJs may be comfier than your normal work clothes, but it doesn’t necessarily encourage the right psychological mindset for a day’s work,’ she says.

    5. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

    In a similar vein, remember we’ve all been doing this for a while now and you’ll know what works for you. Being kind to yourself is key here: if trackies work for you and bring you joy, let yourself have those small joys. They’re important.

    If you're looking for working from home tips, let us help, with expert guidance from two pros

    6. Stick to a routine

    Where you can, sticking to your morning routine as much as possible can be a positive, reckons Suzy. ‘A smart-casual approach to your workday is best. Try and make sure you’re showered and dressed by 9.30am,’ she advises, or whenever you normally start work. Similarly, if some days don’t follow to that routine – they never all will – know adapting is a skill, too.

    7. Set yourself deadlines

    There are tendencies to both underwork and overwork when you run your own schedule, say both experts. It might be tempting right now to watch BBC News on repeat and keep checking your apps for ‘Rona updates, but try to keep distractions to a minimum, for your mental health.

    The best advice for structuring a day’s work at home is timing, according to Suzy. She says, ‘Generally, it is best to stick to your usual office hours and take a lunch break to get up from your desk and get some fresh air. This gives you a structure and helps to focus attention.’ In other words, break up the day by setting yourself deadlines to keep things on track, then take a short comfort break after each.

    Keen to get a sweat on in your lunch break? Read our guides to the best free home workouts and the best no kit home workouts, while you’re here.

    8. Nourish yourself with nutrient-dense meals

    In a lot of ways, eating healthily is easier outside of the office environment, explains Judy. ‘Working from home means you can listen to your body instead of trying to conform to the conventional break and lunchtimes.’

    One easy way to boost your WFH mood? Take time out of your morning and your lunch break to cook up some healthy, nourishing meals that you love and that make you smile.  There’s nothing quite as successful as putting a smile on someones face as a tasty homecooked meal.

    9. Suss your space

    If you don’t work from home regularly you may not have a home office, but this isn’t always important for the quality of work. What is?  Setting aside a physical area for work, Suzy shares. ‘Try, if you can, and keep the bedroom off-limits as your sanctuary,’ she says. ‘This will help with concentration, but also sends out a message to others that you take your working time seriously.’

    10. And, breathe

    You’ve probably read a few of the pointers above before, but this is the most important: be extra kind to yourself right now and remember you are doing your best. Your WFH will look very different to your best mates, so don’t worry if your productivity takes a different form.

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