In the current climate a lot of us are now having to work from home out of necessity, but how do we do this effectively?


Picture the scene (written from the female perspective):

9 am video conference call – charge out of bed at 8.30 am, your other half is still snoring, you trip up over a pile of washing that was meant to go in the washer yesterday, your toddler is SCREAMING for breakfast, the cat and dog need feeding and the cat has done a very smelly mess in the litter tray! You know the dog will be crossing his legs shortly too and your teenager will crawl out of bed and expect waitress service because you’re not at the office and he/she isn’t at school so every day is a holiday, right?

10 am video conference call – Calm and collected with perfect make-up, nice top (teeth not brushed though), from the waist down it’s a disaster – P.J bottoms with last night’s supper down them, one slipper because the other one is hidden under the pile of washing. Under the desk is the toddler with a bar of chocolate for breakfast sharing it with the cat and dog while drawing lovely pictures on the wall with your lipstick and eyeliner. The cat and dog are next!

Teenager is now up and on the game console shouting expletives at their opponent, the cat & dog start yowling, the toddler starts howling, you have chocolate mixed with lipstick added to last nights supper now smeared all over your P.J bottoms. STRESS! HEADACHE! How am I meant to do this??

Well you can it just takes a little advance planning. Working from home can be a positive experience, just take a little time to think about how you are going to get the best out of it. I’ve put together a few tips that I hope with help.

Plan your day – this is a must!

Set yourself realistic expectations, this is a very strange time and normal working from home rules may not apply.

Get up each day and do your usual routine before work shower, eat breakfast, sort the kids (if possible) try to have some time alone to gather your thoughts with a cuppa. Don’t be tempted to skip breakfast or lunch you will need the fuel to keep you going.

You may be asking yourself ‘Do I put on my make-up?’ ‘Do I shave?’ ‘Shall I dress for work?’ The answer is YES always, it will set you on the right track for the rest of the day, it’s important to feel like you are going to work. Save the casual attire for after work so you associate it with relaxation time.

Try to set up your working schedule so that you start and finish work at the same time each day. With children at home a 9 to 5 day may not work for you but 10 to 6 might or even 12 to 4 and 6 to 10, any combination is okay if you find you can be more productive during these times. The most important factor here is routine, don’t be tempted to work outside your set working hours. It’s also important to be honest with your boss about what can be expected of you when working from home, it may not be possible to work to your full capacity if you have a young family so do discuss this. Most importantly do set boundaries for your kids and partner so that they know when you are working and not available for chores, playing etc. during these times.

If both parents are at home try to set up a rota so that you can both have some time to work, it would be good to figure out when you are most productive and try to set your working day around those times. Hopefully you will have different productive times to your partner, so you are able to share the childcare.

Everyone worries about working alone and it is so important to not feel isolated, your boss should arrange to keep in touch via daily group meetings this will help to keep up morale and give you the daily motivation to work. You can also keep yourself sane by checking in with co-workers regularly, this can be online chat, phone, email, or video calls and make sure you don’t restrict the conversations to just work talk. Have a chat about what’s happening in your life; the kids, your partner, the cat, the dog!

Your work area

Try to set your work space up in a permanent place so that it feels like you are going to work, near a window is ideal so you can see the outdoors, get natural light and get some fresh air into the room. Make sure you also have a comfortable chair, if you don’t have an office chair use cushions on a dining room chair to make sure you are in the correct position for sitting comfortably at your workstation. A room where you can close the door is ideal to avoid unnecessary distractions. Have water on hand to keep you hydrated, water can boost your mental performance and reduce tiredness and headaches. Have a piece of fruit on hand a banana is good brain food, okay maybe a little chocolate to lift your mood but not too much or it will have the opposite effect. ?

Keep mobile phones, iPad, tablets etc. away from your desk. Keep them for your set breaks, social media can be a big distraction a quick look can turn into continuous scrolling and before you know it you’ve lost your concentration and half an hour productive time which will totally mess with your set schedule.

Take a break

Take a lunch break away from your desk but try to avoid sitting in front of the TV, you won’t want to get up and DON’T do the housework, if you were out at work you wouldn’t be able to so treat your working day exactly the same as if you were out of the home. Lunch time is for eating and clearing your mind, try to eat a nutritionally balanced meal to maintain energy levels and your mood during the afternoon.If you were in your office you wouldn’t sit at your desk without moving all day, you would be chatting with your colleagues, dropping of paperwork, going to the filing cabinet so take rest breaks and get up from your desk every hour to stretch your legs, walk around the garden, stroke the dog or cat. Stick your head out of the window if you can’t get in the garden!

At the end of your shift log off and don’t return until your next scheduled shift, don’t be tempted to have a sneaky peak at your emails, you are done for the day. Use the extra time you would have used commuting to and from work to go for a walk or do a home exercise routine; some gentle yoga or a high intensity burst of activity, this is very important at this time when we are so much less active. Check out our Activfirst YouTube channel for Jenna’s keep fit routines. 

These are some of the things I have found work for me but you will find out what works best for you, I’m sure things will change as we move through the next few weeks but it’s about making the best out of the situation we are in today and adapting when things change. Just try to keep sane while keeping safe and remember isolation doesn’t mean we have to stop communicating.

Working from home can be great if done right – Good luck, you might need it!

And chill! My glass of wine is calling ?