Are you finding it difficult to separate work from home right now? If you've had to repurpose your bedroom or kitchen into an office then it’s probably a lot tougher to switch off. We explore ways to help you clock-out.
Maintain a routine
Structure can easily go out the window during holiday periods such as Christmas. If you find yourself at the start of a new year feeling a bit discombobulated, it’s a good idea to try and get back into a routine.
For example, as tempting as it may be to work in your pyjamas, make sure you get yourself get dressed and ready for the day. Give yourself time to make a cup of tea or coffee before you log on. Small actions like this can help set the mood for the rest of the day.
Define your workspace
Sitting on the sofa with your laptop and the television on won’t help your productivity, or your posture. It’s best to try and establish a functional working area. A desk in a spare room is ideal, but not all of us are lucky enough to have this. Try to set up a work station somewhere quiet with fewer distractions if you're able.
Make sure you have adequate lighting and heating. Supportive seating is important for your back and try to ensure everything you need is within reach. If you can, sit by a window to allow for some natural light. Having a pot for your pens or your favourite coffee mug will help create an environment you feel productive in.
You can claim tax relief for your increased energy costs since you started working from home. As well as this, you might be able to claim tax relief for any other items you need to work from home, such as a laptop or an office chair.
Ask for support with childcare - if you can
Working from home is definitely more challenging when you have children - especially if they’re young. If you have family or friends that can help, reach out and see if they can offer some support. Childcare bubbles are now allowed in all tiers. This means you can form a link with another household for childcare purposes for children aged 14 years and under. If this isn’t possible, include more breaks in your day and be flexible with your working hours.
Speak to your employer, as it’s likely they're in the same situation as you. If your children are cared for outside of the home, you might be able to get help with childcare costs.
Set your hours and include breaks
You might have to work during set hours, but if there is some flexibility then work out what suits you and your family life best.
Take regular breaks, just like you would in an office, and make the breaks count. Move away from your working area. At lunchtime, take a walk outside (weather permitting of course,) and get some fresh air. During the winter months when it gets darker earlier, it’s important to make the most of the daylight.
When you work from home it can be tempting to continue working into the evening. If you need to meet a one-off deadline, try not to make a habit of working late. You should always make sure you give yourself time in the evenings to relax.
Communicate with your employer
Employers want their employees to be happy. So they need to know if anything is concerning you. You may be worried about your productivity or hoping to ask for a pay rise. Working from home can be isolating so it might be worth setting up weekly or fortnightly calls with your team whether it’s work related or not.
If you have concerns about your job, talk to your manager. You should set regular catch-ups with them as well to stay connected.
Turn off technology
Where would we be without our laptops, broadband connections and mobile phones? These make it easier than ever to stay in touch with people and work wherever we are. However, this isn’t always a good thing. Unless your job requires you to be on call 24 hours a day, it’s ok to put the technology down.
At the end of the work day, put your devices away so you’re not tempted to check your emails when you’re off the clock. Similarly, you could put your phone in another room whilst you’re working so you don’t get distracted and fall off track.
Make time for you
It’s very important to have a healthy life outside of work and this is even more important if you work from home. It can feel like there is not a lot to do at the moment, but you can still set aside time to pursue hobbies or learn a new skill. Make sure you chat with friends and family, as well as factor in some daily exercise.
Prioritise your mental health
It’s agreeably an unusual time right now, and lots of people are experiencing poor mental health because of it. If you’re struggling with mental health, don’t push this away in favour of work. There are a variety of charities and services that can offer remote support for those suffering with mental health issues.
If you’re finding things difficult, be sure to reach out to someone and prioritise this before you do your work.
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