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Tips for working from home during lockdown

In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, many of us have had to make the transition to working from home. 

Whilst the idea of working from home might feel appealing at first, it can – of course – present its own difficulties. Some people find it challenging working without an imposed schedule and, if you’re not careful, it’s easy for the lines between work and home life to become blurred.

We’ve compiled a list of steps you can take to help promote a better work/life balance.

1. Set boundaries 

Blurred boundaries between work and home can create a pressure to be ‘on’ when you should be ‘off’. People often feel that because they are working from home they need to work extra hard so they’re not seen to be slacking. 

Because of this, they might end up over-compensating by working longer hours than they would in the office. 

Creating clear boundaries between work and home is really important during this time:

  • Clearly define your working hours. At the end of these hours, make sure you log out of your work accounts. It’s too easy to quickly respond to an email in the evening – but in doing this, you never fully disengage from work. 
  • Create your own “work space”. This doesn’t have to be a home office or even a desk – just an area that is separate to the space where you relax. 

2. Create a new morning routine 

It might be tempting to roll out of bed and go straight into work, but this is only going to blur the boundaries between work and home even more. 

Without our usual commute into the office or pre-work gym session, we’re  missing out on valuable time and space to prepare for our day. Instead, we’re waking up and going straight into “work mode”.

Pre-work downtime is important for our mental wellbeing. By creating a new morning routine, we can help ourselves focus and get ready for the day. In turn, this will help us be more productive with our time. 

  • Go for a walk or a run. Have a cup of tea with someone you live with or schedule a quick Zoom call if you’re self-isolating alone. Or listen to a podcast you might have listened to on your morning commute. 
  • Get dressed for the day. It can be tempting to stay in your pj’s when you’re working from home but getting dressed is going to help you maintain a distinction between downtime and work time.

3. Plan breaks into your day 

Working from home lacks the imposed schedule of a normal working day. This can make it easy to forget to give yourself proper breaks. At the same time, the absence of structure may mean we procrastinate and find ourselves lacking motivation. Finding a balance is key. 

Some tips for managing your time when working at home: 

  • Make a schedule for your work day e.g. plan to have a coffee at 10am, a 10 mins mindfulness meditation at 3pm etc. 
  • If you struggle to stick to your schedule, try downloading a time management app such as “Flat Tomato”. That way, you will be alerted when it’s time to give yourself a break. 

4. Communicate with colleagues 

Working from home means we’ve lost a lot of the casual day-to-day interactions with colleagues which help break-up our day and prevent that “hamster-wheel” feeling. Without these social interactions, we may find ourselves feeling isolated and lonely. This can present challenges to our mental wellbeing with regards to lower mood and poorer sleep quality. 

Many workplaces are already running team meetings online, but in addition, try interacting with colleagues in other ways, such as:   

  • Check-in with your manager each morning, as you would in the office. You might find they’re also struggling with the transition and that they appreciate you reaching out.
  • Move your usual lunch breaks and after-work drinks online.