Working from home? Here are 5 simple tips to stop you going insane

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  • Well... looks like we're all working from home then, eh? Here's how to master the art of being productive in your slippers

    1. Stay social

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

    When there’s no face-to-face time booked in, you should still be keeping in touch with people, explains occupational psychologist Suzy Dale. ‘Check in with others remotely at least once through social media and emails,’ she says. ‘The temptation to stray on to Facebook or Twitter may be greater, but while you’re updating, remember your boss could be watching. Apply the same common sense approach as you would in your workplace.’

    2. 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, but Suzy Dale recommends that you stick to your morning routine as you would for a day in the office. ‘While working in your PJs may be more comfy than your normal work clothes, it does not encourage you to get into the right psychological mindset for a day’s work,’ she says. ‘A smart-casual approach is best and make sure you’re showered and dressed by 9.30am.’

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    3. Set yourself deadlines

    There are tendencies both to underwork and overwork when you run your own schedule. It might be tempting right now to watch BBC News on repeat and keep checking your apps for Corona updates, but try to keep distractions to a minimum. The best advice for structuring a day’s work at home is timing. Suzy 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 automatically gives you a structure and helps to focus attention. The key is to be pragmatic. Break up the day by setting yourself deadlines to keep things on track, then take a short comfort break after each.’

    4. Plan your meals

    In a lot of ways, following your own eating routines is healthier outside of the office environment, explains Judy Heminsley. She says: ‘Working from home means you can listen to your body instead of trying to conform to the conventional break and lunch times.’ You must try to avoid the natural temptation for these to break down into all-day snacking, Suzy Dale advises. ‘Sticking to good eating habits is important for a productive day. If necessary, keep a bowl of fruit nearby so you don’t find yourself gravitating towards the kitchen each time and keep all other food to to breakfast, lunch and dinner.’

    5. Suss Your Space

    If you don’t work from home regularly you may not have a home office, but this is not always important for the quality of work. ‘It’s really important to set aside a physical area for work and keep the bedroom off-limits as your sanctuary,’ says Suzy. ‘This helps with concentration, and sends out a message to others that you take your working time seriously.’

    After more work and career advice? Don’t forget to check out our MC@Work section.

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