Covid - 19: Working From Home
I’ve worked from a home office set up since I launched my own company in February 2013. A lot of people ask me how I motivate myself to do this, and in the current conditions with lock downs and self isolation everywhere, I’m getting this question more than ever as yachting businesses scale back operations and send their workers to work from home. So I’d like to try and offer a few tips and guidelines to help people. I don’t have kids so I have absolutely no right to tell parents how to manage home schooling AND working during lockdown, honestly you guys deserve medals, so for that reason I’m just going to be general and hopefully there will be something useful everyone can take from this.
Firstly, working from home can be extremely challenging if you’ve never done it. It’s so easy to get distracted and not feel motivated. So, you want to try and maintain your usual routine as much as you can. Within reason… if you normally get up at 6am to drive to work at 7am then ok, give yourself a bit of a lie in due to no commute, but don’t just sleep in and fester. Set your alarm and get up, and this is important – get ready for work. Do not sit in your PJs working, it is not productive! You don’t have to do your hair and makeup (unless of course YOU want to), but do get washed and dressed. It’s a subconscious action that will make you more mentally prepared to tackle work.
If you’re a list person (I’m definitely a list person), then over your morning coffee it’s a good idea to smash out a quick list for the day ahead. Mine includes basic work tasks but also other stuff – like house chores (and in normal circumstances errands to run or appointments outside), what I’m going to make for lunch/dinner. Otherwise I’ll stand in front of the fridge for ages being indecisive… and under lockdown we’re being pretty strict on food planning to avoid any wastage so this makes things easier at the moment. Let’s face it we have enough stress without figuring out what to eat with a frustrated little one hanging off a leg.
Designate yourself a working area. I have always had a home office which of course makes that a lot easier – when I am in the office I am in work mode, in my work zone. If you don’t have a room where you can set up your laptop or computer etc, then a kitchen bench or dining table might be the best option. Make sure you have a decent chair, and good lighting.
Set boundaries. This is often the hardest bit for others to understand… tell your partner/family etc that when you’re at your “desk” you’re in work mode. And ask them to respect that. When you’re done with work, you close your workspace down and you move away from that area. When I get up from my desk and start switching lights off my dog gets excited – she knows that means work time is done and play time is coming.
I always have the radio playing through my computer speakers in my office, as I work alone I enjoy the company and the music. Some people like audiobooks, or spotify, it’s a personal thing.
Don’t forget to take breaks! It’ll help you from going nuts. It might be making a coffee and moving to a different space for a little while, or if you have an outside area sit out there for a break. Read a chapter of a book, flick through Instagram, read the news. Your call but DO have a break.
This is an interesting one – keep your house clean. It’s very hard to be focused and keep a clear mind when your surroundings are cluttered or grubby. Set a schedule with your partner/family to get chores done together. Don’t risk putting them off or they’ll nag at the back of your mind and put you off your work. Sounds daft but it really is true – if my desk feels a little cluttered it annoys me to the point that I have to tidy it all up and then boom, productivity returns.
Like many, I use social media for work. This can be perilous…. It’s very easy to fall down the facebook rabbit hole and right now, with all that’s going on this might not be the best way to stimulate your productivity. That being said, some people find it handy to have open facebook windows where you can chat with friends now and again – just as you would in a normal office set up. This helps if you’re feeling a little lonely too. Again, this is really a personal choice but if you find it a massive distraction, be strong and log out!
Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t feel you’ve been as productive as you normally would be at work. This is a massively stressful time – a lot of people find it hard enough to work from home under normal circumstances, we’re dealing with a global pandemic so this is just insane. Be kind to yourself, and if you’re trying to work and it’s just not happening… well stuff it, spend some time doing something else instead. If you’re child free, then go paint a wall, bake a cake, read a book, meditate, do star jumps… whatever floats your boat. If you have kids then go build lego, do some painting, bake cookies… From what I know, which to be fair isn’t that much… kids are resilient as anything. It’s a shame they’re missing school but if you can’t stick to the strict schedules I hear teachers are sending through, don’t beat yourself up over it. Teach your kid life skills instead. Bout time they learned how the hoover works… you’re all in this together, read a book together out loud, do some painting, or if you’re feeling like you need a rest from it all, put the TV on. Nobody should be judging anyone right now, this is a very challenging time for all, so just be kind, don’t take any notice of “perfect” people on facebook or Instagram either. Behind the scenes there’s probably a naked toddler screaming blue murder covered in orange paint rolling over the white rug in the living room.
Be kind to each other, and just do what you feel you can, we can’t force creativity and we can’t force productivity or motivation. What we can do is try to create a safe and helpful environment, and do the best with what we have, and try not to feel overwhelmed. I hope you’ve found this a little helpful, even if it was just a nice distraction to read when you’re procrastinating or taking a little break from work!