How to Work From Home Without Going Insane

How to Work From Home Without Going Insane

You might not know this, but I have lots of experience working from home in 'lockdown' conditions. I accompanied Mr Finch on a posting to Pakistan for two and a half years, where I worked on Gingerfinch from home, only leaving the house for essentials 2-3 times per week. Yes, you read that correctly; I only left home 2-3 times per week. For two and a half years. It was intense. But I learned some pretty nifty coping mechanisms that I want to share with you. 

*Note: I can't offer tips on how to work from home with kids around.... that's an element of difficulty I am not skilled enough to deal with. The tips below might help - but ignore number 4. 

How to Work from Home in COVID-19

1 - Get a Routine, or Lose Your Mind

I really can't stress this enough. You need to have a strict routine or you will be incredibly unproductive and lose your mojo.

Set your alarm and get up when it goes off. Make brekkie, have a shower - just like you would for your normal job (but you can put on trakkies and wear no makeup - the joys of working from home). Adhere to a lunch break and set a knock-off time. Don't be tempted to check work emails or 'tinker' outside of those hours or you'll never get the rest required to do a good day's work the following day.  

'Normal' working hours don't apply when you are working from home. You will likely get more done at home between 8am-1pm - or if you are wired differently, from 2-8pm - than you do in an entire day at the office. Never underestimate the power of working based on your mood and productivity, not 'designated hours'. 

How to Work from Home in COVID-19

2 - Create Designated Zones In Your Home 

When your home becomes your place of work, recreation, rest and meals, it's vital to establish boundaries and zones for each activity. If you're lucky enough to have an office, use it. Otherwise, convert a section of your dining table or somewhere quiet to work. 

If you start trying to 'work' from your couch or (worse) bed, you'll struggle to turn your mind away from work when you're supposed to be resting. When working from home it's essential to create boundaries between work time and space and leisure time and space. 

Self Isolation Survival Guide - Work from home

3 - Exercise and Rest

Exercise is so important when you're cooped up indoors. It will help you sleep better, keep your muscles from wasting away - and it's a great way to manage the inevitable rage that comes with not living your normal life. 

You guys know this already, I just recommend you have a couple of exercise options (online yoga, biking etc) and build them into your daily routine. 

Also, you should try to rest and reset your eyes after all the hours spent in front of screens. I like to sit outside for at least an hour per day and watch the activity (mainly birds, I'm obsessed with birds) around me. It forces my long-vision to do some work and it does wonders for my brain. 

How to Work from Home in COVID-19

4 - Make Rules and Stick to Them

I have developed core rules that hold me in check while working from home:

No booze till 6pm

It's so easy to have a cheeky wine with lunch or start a tradition of 'arvo' drinks, but SHOW RESTRAINT! It will kill your productivity and ultimately make you feel rotten.

No TV until 5pm

I tested the option of having a break by putting on the telly over lunch or having it on in the background, but it really didn't work for me. I found it distracting and it killed my productivity. Instead, I have the radio on all day as it makes the house feel less empty, provides great tunes and little news snippets so you're not tempted to surf news sites all day.

I will also introduce the following rules throughout the COVID-19 self-isolation:

No social media From 9-4pm each day

It's so easy to get caught in a social media whirlpool, especially when we can justify it as 'staying connected'. But it's a bad idea. So I'm setting aside a couple of hours per day to be on social media and I won't let myself look at it outside those times.

If I'm craving contact, I'll skype or call a buddy or my family rather than start scrolling. 

Have at least one news/COVID-19 info free day

I know the constant reporting is going to get me down/freak me out, so I'm going to take a break from all news at least one day per week (I'll listen to Spotify all day rather than the radio, no TV news, and no social media). We need to focus on maintaining good mental health during this period and I think a news-cleanse will help.

How to Work from Home in COVID-19

5 - Be Kind To Yourself

One thing I realised in my 2.5 year lockdown is that some days you wake up feeling flat, unmotivated and a bit miserable. And that's ok. Don't force yourself to sit at the computer trying to work, it won't happen and you'll feel even worse for it. Learn to identify early on when you are in a lousy mood and do whatever makes you happy. Stay in your PJs, binge watch Netflix, read your book in the sun, go for a run (maintaining a 1.5m distance from others, of course). 

Our primary job during the COVID-19 self-isolation is to stay healthy and stay away from others. If you can do some great work and not kill your partner/co-habitants at the same time, well done you. We need to be kind to ourselves and each other during this time. And we will get through this. Just think how awesome it will be when life returns to normal.