I’ve worked from home for 10 years and during this time I’ve developed some important strategies that keep up my productivity. I only realised how successful since I’ve been joined by my husband who has never worked from home before. He goes into his ‘office’ at 8am and doesn’t emerge until lunchtime when he snatches a bite to eat, and then back into the ‘office’ until 6pm.
Now I know that this routine is definitely not sustainable. At the end of the first week, he felt totally exhausted. I had to point out that he hadn’t travelled to work which is a gentle introduction to the day. Nor had he shared any banter with colleagues or travelled to meetings. All of these interludes are important and we don’t recognise this until they’ve been taken out of our working day. Hence, the importance of the strategies that I have adopted over the years.
So this is a typical day for me. I’m going to add in some extras that I do occasionally that also help me maintain focus and productivity. Number one for me is a good breakfast. I make this into a daily ritual along with a decent coffee. This is my thinking and prepping time for the day – the alternative to the drive to work. Something else I do (not always) is splurge out anything that’s going round in my head into a notebook. This doesn’t have to make sense or be punctuated – it’s just splurged. If anything useful comes from this I keep it, if not, I screw it up and throw it away.
From then, I punctuate my day with non-work activities – e.g. hanging out washing, walking out in the garden to breath some fresh air, a quick tinkle on the piano. No doubt your activities will be quite different to mine, but the key principle here is to do them. Why? People often say that they are short of time, I say that they are more likely to be short of energy. I aim to match my energy levels with my work so that I’m more productive.
If you’re writing a report, or trying to get your head around some new guidance or up to your eyes in unanswered emails just stop. Move away from your laptop. Do whatever makes you feel alive again – 10 jumping jacks around the kitchen is a good one. Stay away for at least 10 minutes and then go back and you’ll feel unstuck and ready to continue. The saying ‘don’t flog a dead horse’ is quite apt at this point – you potentially being the dead horse.
I know at the moment we have lots of online meetings which we aren’t always able to schedule, but you can still plan activity around them that will wake you up and give you renewed vigour. The biggest piece of advice is don’t feel guilty that you’re not working all the time. When I first started working from home I felt that I had to be at it 100% or I wasn’t earning my worth. If you’re just present and not achieving anything you’re wasting everyone’s time.
I’m pleased to say that my husband is beginning to learn the survival technique of working from home. He takes occasional strolls around the garden, makes himself a cuppa, has a bit of banter with me and then he’s good to go.