by Sara Roberts

Despite the seasons changing and the months moving on, many of us continue to find ourselves bent over our laptop screens, snacking on just about anything in our kitchen cupboards and battling with endless zoom technical difficulties in the new normal that is: working from home. And working from home really has become the new normal, yet after all this time why does it feel like we still haven’t quite settled in? While some are enjoying the comfort of working from the sofa, others are pining for the familiarity and community of the office. As the months roll by, we find ourselves wondering – will things ever go back to the way they were?

Today, I have put together some top tips for working from home, finding the positives and dealing with the rather tiresome negatives.

1.      Schedule, Schedule, SCHEDULE!

One of the most difficult aspects of WFH life is lack of structure. Our entire routines have been thrown off and although at the beginning of March 2020, it may have seemed exciting, 10 months down the line and we really are starting to tear our hair out! Creating and following your own schedule helps hugely. Getting up the same time every day, showering and changing into appropriate clothes for work (okay let’s face it, bottom half can remain in pyjamas but ONLY on Friday’s), washing our faces and feeling like real human beings before starting our workdays, just as we would have in our previous lives. You’ll be surprised at how much more motivation comes flowing out when you’re behaving like a real human being for the majority of the day!

2.     Work/Play from Home

It’s so important to ensure that we are switching off as well as working hard during our WFH escapades. It’s all too easy to have our laptops, i-phones, i-pads (you name it) set up in our homes, e-mails pinging at all hours of the evening, drawing us back to our desks to just-check-one-little-thing. When our work-lives and home-lives have merged into one, it is important to manually input the separation ourselves. In order to do this, create a separate space where you work and make this your workspace only. This means when 5 pm comes, or whenever you clock off, you can remove yourself from this space and enter into your home space. Make yourself walk – commute down that hallway to work every Monday morning and come Friday afternoon, shut the door and commence your weekend. It has never been more difficult to separate work life from home life as it is now, but it is vital in ensuring we keep ourselves healthy and happy and don’t become consumed by constantly working even in our switch-off time.

3.     Leave the House

This is yet another more-difficult-to-grasp prospect in lockdown 2 than it was in lockdown 1. The days are short, the weather is freezing, and the house is so warm and cosy – why would we need or want to go outside?? All the more reason to ensure that we do. Vitamin D is rare this time of year as it is, by cooping ourselves in our homes 24/7 we can’t be doing our mental and physical well-being any good. Plus, going for our daily appointed walk is one of the only things that we can do outside of working at the moment, so it’s vital to take this opportunity to do so. A 10-minute stretch at lunchtime, a lap of the park before work, an evening run with a head torch, whatever slots into your day easiest, make the effort to go outside, breathe the fresh air and loosen the muscles. The effect will have on your motivation, and emotional state is remarkable.

4.     Be Kind to You (have that second slice of banana bread)

It’s essential to find little things you enjoy and do them often! Baking, painting, reading, whatever you find therapeutic and maybe haven’t otherwise been able to really get settled into due to fast-paced, fully packed days in the office followed by social occasions in the evenings followed by crashing on the couch, exhausted all weekend. The benefits of all this additional time we have on our hands are being able to discover and rediscover what we really enjoy doing, what motivates us and gets our hearts racing, what we feel that we are really good at and even picking up new skills which we’ve always wanted to try out. Lockdown 1 was all about this, people sharing their newfound hobbies on social media, starting up at-home businesses and motivating themselves to learn new skills. It certainly has been more difficult in lockdown 2 to find the motivation and even the excitement in these small endeavours, but they are still there and dedicating some time to these things will inevitably keep us going through the roughest days of lockdown.  

5.     Check in with your friends and colleagues

We are all going through the same thing and it’s important to recognise that any lack of motivation, feelings of restlessness or downright boredom are completely normal and being felt nation-wide. Check in with those around you and talk to someone if you are feeling a little overwhelmed. We are living through unprecedented times, and the pressures of working from home are still as real as they were in March. It’s essential to check in with yourself, seek advice if you need it and have a frequent natter with a co-worker, friend or family member about how everything feels for you! You never know, you may end up putting a smile on someone else’s face while doing so.

Together we will make it through these crazy times and come out the other end stronger!

Thanks for reading.