Let’s start with some truths about lockdown WFH: 1) No-one thought it would last this long. 2) The novelty soon wore off. 3). Pitching up on the sofa is not as fun as it sounds.
There are plus sides but the biggest problems have been missing colleagues, weaker mental health and a lack of motivation.
It’s hard to stay focused without your usual colleagues and contacts around you and we have all had to find ways of working differently than we used to.
Here, we have asked workers to tell us what helps them stay focused – and crucially not one of them said that ‘working harder’ is the answer.
Go easy on yourself for not getting the balance right all the time- because most likely, one way or another, you’re in it for the long haul.
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1. Make your space your own
I’ve been working at home for a few years now and one of the things that has really helped me is to have some sensory stimulation at my desk. I always have music, plants, a big glass of water, essential oils and fresh flowers around me – they’re an important reminder that life is not all about Teams calls and the water and essential oils help keep headaches at bay.
Sally Bell, Head of External Communications, Openreach
2. Walk and talk
I’m doing two things differently to help me stay motivated and in touch. I’m listening to more podcasts, and I usually try to do this while out walking/running so that I’m combining it with some much needed exercise. I’ve also started to have some of my work related meetings as walks rather than zoom calls. I’ve found this really helps as I’m missing the interaction with others and I get a lot of energy from these discussions.
Clodagh Murphy, Chairman Exeter Chamber of Commerce
3. A rest is as important as working hard
Fill your cup. A lot of us are running on empty and those few hours that we manage to scoop back by working from home will only be really beneficial if you give yourself a break, be that a cup of tea or a walk.
Kate Deacon, Owner, Mix Clean Green
4. Make time for chat
Keep communicating. It is very easy to fall into the habit of working alone and I’ve really missed the buzz of bouncy ideas around in the office. Putting regular catch ups in definitely helps, we have a half hour cuppa and a catch up in the diary every Wednesday afternoon.
Kerry England, Marketing Manager, The Family Law Company
5. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t shake off the slump
It’s really hard to stay focused and motivated all the time. There are days when we can’t shake off the ‘slump’ or low mood but we’ve learned to not be so hard on ourselves or feel guilty for feeling that way because we’re only human! For us, the best way to reset and re-motivate ourselves is to step away from whatever it is that we’re doing, get outside for some fresh air and exercise, and get a good night’s sleep. We always wake up the next day feeling so much better. Stepping away for an hour or so, or even the afternoon, can do incredible things for your creativity and mindset.
Gracie and Sophie Tyrell, founders The Squirrel Sisters
6. There is support – use it
Something that has struck me is that there’s a great support network in the business community
now. If it all gets on top of you, there is always someone around to talk to, whether that’s a phone
call, texting or WhatsApp. Just to remind you there are other people out there.
Sue Cade, In The Right Order PR
7. Don’t worry about what you’ve got to do tomorrow
It’s important to have separation between your workspace and your home – if you have a home
office you need to shut the door on it when you have finished for the day. If you can’t, perhaps have
a box that you can pack things away at the end of the day to put everything out of sight so you don’t
spend the evening thinking about what you have to do tomorrow or haven’t done today.
Rachel Buckley, Business Development Director, The Family Law Company
8. Being productive doesn’t always mean working
Take regular breaks, even if that means more than you would in the office, if you need it, so that you can maintain high standards of work. Feeling like you are producing poor quality work can add to a lack of motivation. Start with the ‘worst’ tasks you’ve got on your list so that they don’t get pushed to the bottom and you’ll find the more enjoyable jobs are easier to complete later in the day. And remember to be kind to yourself. If you’re consistently not keeping up with your to-do list, it’s probably more likely that there’s a problem with your workload, rather than your motivation.
Vicki Eastman, Senior Account Manager, Clearly PR
9. Set strict boundaries
Schedule in breaks into your diary and keep to them like you would a client appointment. Keep
healthy snacks to hand such as fruit and nuts and if the weather is sunny get yourself outside for
some fresh air. Set strict boundaries around your working times as it can be very tempting to sit at
your desk all day without moving. Stretching and maybe some online lunchtime yoga.
Donna Hart, Director, The Family Law Company
10. Write a “to-do” list each day
Put your highest priority work at the top and actually stick to it in the order you wrote it (don’t just do the work you like best). Reward yourself with cups of coffee or tea for each job you get done.
Take a full lunch break and get outside – it’s so easy to not leave the house for days when you’re
working from home. A quick walk around the block, potter in the garden or lunchtime run can really
help lift your mood and motivate you for the afternoon of work ahead. Stick to your working hours and try not to work overtime unless it’s absolutely necessary. Determine at the start of your day what time you will finish and work hard so you can actually achieve a sensible finish time and have time for yourself in the evening.
Hannah Porter, Associate Solicitor, The Family Law Company
Do you have any tips to share? Let us know what keeps you going while working from home in the comments section below