By Susannah Birch
While many people loved the experience of working from home in 2020, for people like me, who thrive on workplace community and creativity, it wasn’t optimal.
I’ve had my share of experiences working from home; I first began writing online in 2009, learning marketing from the ground up and spending the next five years working from home with two young children. One thing I learned about myself is that I need to be surrounded by creative people to keep me inspired, motivated, give me feedback and keep me on track.
This was what drove me to return to an office in 2014, and between all my other projects, spend at least part of my time in a workplace away from my home. Spending too much time alone means I often miss out on identifying the best solutions, prioritise the wrong tasks and work too little or too much.
I’ve spent more time at home than I’ve wanted over the past year, so I’ve had to find ways to make working from home work for me. For those who are still working from home and finding it tough, here are a few of my favourites.
Create work at home boundaries
One of the negatives of working from home is the lack of boundaries between work, home and play. It’s easy to tell people to create boundaries, but what does that actually mean?
Some great ways I found to create boundaries involved the five senses - having a different music playlist, different smells and different snacks and drinks helps create those boundaries at a mental level. Some people take it even further and begin their day with a walk or drive around the block, reminiscent of a daily commute.
Co-working is a great way for small business owners to share a workplace, without the overheads of having their own offices. With COVID-19 restrictions limiting the numbers of people who can share office space, virtual co-working has also taken off.
You don’t need to join a large professional co-working group, though. The last year has taught us just how easy it is to jump on a video call with friends, and there’s no reason it can’t help you get through your work day too. Sometimes, just having another working friend or colleague on a video while ticking off tasks can make all the difference in accountability.
Don’t be afraid to check-in
In the average office, it’s usually easy to see if someone’s having an off day or has too much on their plate. Working from home, it’s not always as easy to identify issues when they arise.
Whether you’re a business owner, or an employee, don’t be afraid to check in regularly and make sure everyone is managing well. Checking in to see how everyone is managing their workload and identifying any issues early is a good way to ensure you don’t miss any small issues before they turn into a big problem.
Make a distraction list
Get distracted regularly? I know I do! Whether it’s a bill that needs paying, or an appointment that needs booking, it’s easy to fall into the distraction trap when you’re surrounded by at home reminders.
Keeping a notebook handy and making a note of all these distracting thoughts is an easy way to ensure you’ll remember them later, but they won’t distract you from your work day. Getting rid of that mental load means you can spend more time with your mind on your business and become more productive.
Take a day off
Sometimes, there are days where nothing goes the way you planned and that’s ok. Sometimes we think working from home should be the same or easier than working from an office, but it’s not; it can be a high pressure environment in its own way.
Don’t be afraid to take the time to get organised, take a breather and make sure you’re mentally in the right place to work. When you’re under pressure, you’re less motivated and less likely to achieve, so taking a break can make you even more productive. Taking that time to reset without the guilt, is a good way to ensure you come back refreshed and ready the next day.