Working From Home Tips - Don't Panic

Tips for Working From home - Don't Panic

A bless and a curse

Working from home can be a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand you don’t have to do the commute, you save money on the trip, you can wake up later and have the convenience of having your favourite food in the fridge.  But on the other, you don’t get to see your colleagues and it can be lonely, you don’t get the office treats and it’s harder to nip out to your favourite take away for lunch or coffee, and you don’t have that separation from work and life. Hybrid and flexible working should give us the best of both worlds though.

But working from home still has the pitfalls of seeming productive but actually being full of distractions.  How many of us have put washing on during the day when WFH, or filled the dishwasher or had deliveries knocking at the door or even had tradesmen round to fix things?  If you are one of this number then put your hand up.

Personally, when I started working from home on my own way back in 2015, I knew from the start that I needed structure and routine to my day, to make myself the most productive.


Here are the tips I gave myself:

  • 1.Be at the desk at 9am.  It doesn’t matter how late you wake up, or whether you’ve had a shower or not, but be present, on your computer, at 9am.
  • 2. Take a lunch break at lunch time.  I used to make sure that when I tummy rumbled, I took at least 45min off work to eat and sit on the sofa to watch TV, or go for a walk, or sometimes just stand or sit in the garden.
  • 3. Only visit the fridge as many times at home as you would at work.  Mid-morning and mid afternoon snacks only!  But tea and coffee are of course still essential.
  • 4. Ignore the mess in the kitchen.  If I were at work and out of the house all day I’d be ignoring it, so why shouldn’t it be the same if I was WFH?  Plates can pile up, the tumble dryer stays full, the washing doesn’t go on.  Just leave it in the state it would be if you had rushed out the door to work.  Maybe not everyone can do that like me.
  • 5. Connect with people.  Try and have at least one face to face human interaction every day.  That could be a phone call, a zoom, or a real life meeting.  As a solopreneur before I had a team, I would frequently go to networking meetings to see the same faces every month and have a reason to have zoom calls and follow up with people.  Slacks and WhatsApp’s and background chatter do actually help you feel connected.
  • 6. Separate your work space from your life space.  Sit in the same space every day and make sure it’s a productive workspace.  A desk or kitchen table etc.  We’ve all learnt these lessons from Covid but keep tweaking your space until it’s the perfect productive set up – I’m going to paint my desk lilac I’ve decided.
  • 7. Make sure you are in a space that has colour from art and plants and pots and trinkets.  Also you need to be near natural light from a window, have a view you can look out to, a window you can open for fresh air if you need or a heater on standby if it’s cold.

For me, that’s all the practical things dealt with, but it’s doesn’t address the big thing which is the mental mindset for the day.  You need to prepare for working from home on your own because it’s very different to working within a group of people.  It takes a different set of skills to stay productive and I think all of us should pick and choose from the following motivators, as suits their personality:

  • Set timers and reminders
  • Split the day into easy achievable tasks
  • Reward yourself with something when you’ve finished a task
  • Have a break when you’ve finished a task
  • Only make teas and coffees at the beginning or end of a task
  • Allow yourself some time to scroll on the phone to give yourself a break for 10min
  • Try and schedule in chats with people
  • Make sure you have a proper lunch break
  • Listen to the radio or a podcast or the news in the background
  • Have the TV or YouTube on in the background for background chatter noise.

Most people are either those who set themselves tasks to achieve, or rewards when they’ve done something, and both are valid options to stay motivated.  Personally, I give myself little rewards, what do you do?