It was not long ago, only 24 months, that we all were starting every day, of a 5 working days week, with an early wake up. Yes, our working day started at 9am but, between breakfast and a bit of fitness, shower, dress up and then… easily 30 to 60 minutes of traffic jam our active day started much earlier. Oh, forgot to add in, kids to be brought to school!
Moving out of bed at 5am reaching our working-place at 8:45 to 9am every single day and then work hard till 6pm. Back in the car, stop by at the grocery or convenience store, pick the kids up from tuition and finally, quite exhausted, sit back, relax, so to say, and enjoy the dinner. Most of the times, either taken away or fast food type of dinner!
All in all, doing a bit of math, we were “wasting” easily 5 to 6 hours every single day on the above daily routine! The less lucky, the ones in sales or with plenty of meetings, were adding in another few hours of “time-in-the-trash” driving from A, meeting, to B, short discussion becoming long one, then C, sorting out some servicing issues, then…. call D and reschedule because too jammed today!
How much our lives have changed since the beginning of this pandemic and how much the work from home, or remote working, has impacted our lifestyle and our “real estate likes”?
They say, work from home can be great and boosting your productivity while others comment nah, it’s highly distractive and unproductive! Who is right and who is wrong? I’m not here today to discuss the rightness but simply with the intention of sharing some useful tips which I’ve proven right personally!
I’m definitely not a specialist on this but, from a very practical point of view, I can put on the table my past 15 months of 100% “work-from-home-mode” and the decision to keep doing it!
If you wonder why, read through the tips below and most probably will find the answer together with, hopefully, some good ideas on how to improve the quality of your lifestyle, family time and, at the same time, productivity.
Here are the 7 tips that have helped me to adapt first and thrive later in my working from home permanent mode!
Wake-up and…Work From Home Mode: How To Get Ready to Go
What is your favourite outfit when working remotely? Please leave aside the too often heard, shorts, sleepwear or sweatpants and dress up! It can definitely be casual but just not too much! Dressing up carries the work mode that we all need to be productive.
Get me right please, I’m not recommending to go for a full dress-up, be comfortable but just not too much! The mere act of changing clothes is like a bell telling us to wake up and get the job done.
One more thing, dressing up, of course, includes becoming presentable or, brush your hair, shave or makeup and complete your normal routing as if you were still going to office, kind of! This will also help enormously when, as very often happens, boss, colleagues or a client will give a call for an urgent virtual meeting!
My Working Place: Does Not Need to Be Beautiful It Need to Be Comfortable
What is a great thing about working from home? Most probably, the level of comfort we have gained and liked so much. But, do we realise that this comfort, above all when is too much, often comes at the cost of lost productivity, focus, and target goals?
No doubt bed, couch or other “preferred places” within our homey comfort areas, are very attractive but, will they allow us to maintain focus and productivity as much as we need?
Therefore, finding the right space all for us, whenever we need to work, will do a great deal. Many might be saying, my house is so small or I’ve decided to leave the small studio room to my daughter for her e-learning or else… Let’s see how to resolve the above in a simple and, above all not expensive, way.
What I did in March 2020, and somehow has been working great for me, when the first lockdown kicked in, has been to:
- Choose a place which will always be our working space, do not keep on changing it. Look for good natural lighting, if possible, and
- Set up the work station with a chair. By logic, the chosen place, is where we will be working for long time and, it has to come complete of a comfortable chair to sit on, for around 8 hours a day
- Desk and essential space to work has to be there, all our necessary tools must be handy and easily reachable. Let’s avoid to keep on moving around the house looking for this or that tool otherwise concentration will be gone and productivity will fall to zero!
Once defined and set up my working space, I was set and ready to move forward! The next challenging experience I’ve had, has been to define a daily routine and keep it! I consider myself lucky as I love what I’m doing but, too often, I fall into workaholism and totally loose touch with time passing by. This is not right!
So set a timing for break and respect it and do your best not to go too often for overtime, at home is not such a good habit!
Working Time Discipline
A good and healthy work-life balance is an extremely important factor, above all when we are practicing work from home. Our personal life is just as important as our professional life.
What I did has been to fix my working routine and stick to it as much as I can! As I said above, I love what I’m doing and, very often, I tend to overshoot with my working time. I overcome this issue by choosing some fixed activities which in one way or the other have been pulling me away from my laptop.
Let’s say you are planning to work for 8 hours in one day? Break the 8 hours in two 2.5 hours sessions and in the middle you add in a 3 hours one. Set an alarm in your phone and go for it!
Between each session you can go for a short nap or having some food or else. Being a workaholic I often end up with 10 or more working hours per day. However, I’m adding to these 10 hours, at least 2 extra hours for breaks. From walking my dog to preparing some food or going for the daily food necessity of the family and then, late evening, preparing dinner for the family (you can check here how I’ve been using cooking to de-stressing and relaxing activity).
Work | Eat | Sleep | Enjoy All in a Balanced Way!
Talking about food, here goes another good piece of advice. Working from home, unfortunately, means we are just few steps away from our fridge, favourite junk-food, cookies jar or else! As soon as time for a break comes, that’s where, we all, might be ending up!
This is definitely a practice which does not benefit us all in any way! Following an healthy diet is essential as, eating well, is one of the key pillar for our wellbeing! Therefore, we must eat food which will contribute in spurring our functionality instead of draining energy and making us feeling sleepy.
Below just few ideas given by expert nutritionists. I’ve tried them out and definitely they work much better than a big pasta or a double deck sandwich, both rich of dangerous carbohydrates. However, let me know if anything shall be added to this list for the benefit of all readers, your comments and tips on this will be much appreciated.
- Eat energising but not too heavy meals for lunch. Recommended are: iron (leafy green vegetables), protein (fish, meat, eggs) and complex carbohydrates (legumes & whole grains)
- For half day snacks choose fruits, nuts & berries together with some juice
- Drink a lot of water and try to avoid excess of caffeine which is not so healthy if over-consumed.
At the end of the day, these advises could be useful also when this pandemic will be finally defeated, a good balance of healthy food intake and rest will contribute to rejuvenate our body and mind.
To-do-list and Priorities
Get our “to-do list” done every day for the next one and follow it! Organise our duties on a priority base and always give a value 1 to 5 in terms of importance or urgency. It is a good habit to keep a daily journal where we should pen down all the tasks which have been completed, the challenges and the good ideas. I’ve done it for the past 15 months and it has been working greatly for me.
This journal will also allow us to define which are the most productive hours of our working day and keep the most important, urgent or delicate tasks for those highly productive time-frames.
The Need of Rules with Family: WFH Means We Need to Work!
Working from home leave ample room for possible misunderstanding with our family members so, it’s good to set some basic rules which will help maintaining a good and peaceful family environment.
Those families with both working parents are, possibly, the ones with lesser need of these rules. However, for those household where only one of the parents is working or, for those still looking for the “other half” of their life and living with their parents, let’s keep in mind that, in both cases, they do not have an idea of how your working day looks like as, before the pandemic we all were working from office!
Most importantly, let’s keep in mind that we have been forced into a lockdown mode where family members have seen us working “live” as far as we have seen our kids attending classes “live” for the first time ever. Rules will help setting time and places for all the different family activities and will contribute in creating an harmonious working and living family environment.
This would definitely work!! In case you may need some extra ideas and tips, read this article which has been very useful to me.
Interact with the Team…Virtually
One of the great things that the WFH mode has brought into our lives and that we all should appreciate, is the easiness to meet up virtually to exchange ideas, discuss issues to find possible solutions or meet up with our clients on a regular basis and so on.
We should be able to leverage on this to improve the quality of our WFH output, to remain connected with colleagues and to better understand our suppliers or customers.
One of the great improvement of virtual communication from our homes, probably boosted by the “home sweet home” feeling that we all perceive, is the informal way virtual meetings are held.
Not too formal uniform with tight tie, leave aside those painful high heel shoes or else! More casual clothes carry more casual feelings and behaviors and this, to me at least, has made a huge difference easing enormously the quality of our communication and relationships.
Well it’s up to us how often we want it to be but, let’s set “our often” for some virtual time with the team and colleagues, it will boost our energy and the positive outcome of our work.
At the end of the day is good to know that, we are not left alone!
It is, however, to be kept in mind that there are times to talk about work and times for different topics, it is not mandatory to talk about work all the time. A normal chit-chat is fine as long as it breaks the social isolation we all suffered of while working from home.
Video call is a great way to stay connected and to have some fun at the same time.
I truly hope that these tips can really help you all boost your positive energy and productivity, above all if you are part of the WFH army.
Also, please do mention, in the comment below, your story and the ideas that have been motivating you to keep going and feel free to add any tip I might have missed out!