5 habits to build a successful work from home environment


We’re all having to WFH (work from home) more than ever; but once the initial thrill of flexi working wears off it can be a stressful time. Here’s how to make working from home a breeze for yourself, your employer and your family.

1. Establish a routine

Working from the home office, full time during the COVID-19 outbreak can be more challenging than going in to work; so it’s important to establish a routine.

Having a routine means that you have less decisions to make, clearing headspace that may give you the capacity you need to manage challenging times. In fact, a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that we can feel stressed if we have too many decisions to make. Having a routine eliminates having to make too many decisions and allows us to feel in control.

One of the key routines when working at home, is to try and stick to the same bedtime each night. Sleep is important when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system, and getting a regular seven to nine hours a night is key. According to the Sleep Foundation, without enough shut-eye, the body produces fewer cytokines, which are essential for targeting infection and inflammation.

2. Disconnect from distractions

Find a space that you can call your own; you may be lucky enough to have a spare room you can use as your home office or you may be sharing the dining table with other family members. Set up your workspace as you would in the office. Using headphones with a built-in microphone ensures that any calls you make or take will be devoid of background noise, which will reduce your stress. Try to concentrate on the task in hand and not be side-tracked by social media. According to phone company Nokia, the average person looks at their phone around 150 times a day — that’s almost an hour lost every working day.

3. But connect with people

We’re now all adept at working remotely and video conferencing via Zoom, Teams or Skype, so we often see more of our colleagues face to face than our own families during the day. Plan your working hours so that you can stay connected; sit and have lunch with your children; plan a mid-afternoon break for a cuddle and their favourite cartoon.

Remember those friends and relatives of all ages that are holed up in isolation. Connecting socially is not just a good chance to catch up; it can help boost your immune system and studies have shown it can even increase the chance of longevity by 50%. The beauty of a connected world is that you can catch up over an evening glass of wine with an old friend in Sydney or a kickstart the day over a morning coffee with a friend from LA.

4. Know your boundaries and take regular breaks

As a remote worker it's important to know when to take your own circuit breaker! Working from home can be a challenge, and even more so if you add a partner, pets and children to the mix. So setting boundaries can make it easier for everyone. When you are not on a video call, letting your toddler play next to you will make them feel included in your work day; leaving them in the room with a carer for a few minutes while you make a call will be easier on them than not seeing you all day, even though they know you are there! With older children agree on an hour’s work followed by a 15 minute break — this provides an opportunity to get a snack or enjoy a little screen-time.

We all have to accept that we are doing the best we can in challenging times. Be realistic about what you can achieve and take time for yourself. In the office the likelihood is that you would go out for a coffee or lunch; meet a friend after work for a drink; go for dinner with your partner or take an exercise class. Remember, with technology, you can still do all these things — just from the comfort of your own home.

5. Schedule your to-do list

While your working hours may be fluid, there are tasks that need to be done and a to-do list is probably of more value than ever before, given the potential distractions at the home office. These lists can be as complicated or simple as you like. Whether it’s a colour coded spreadsheet or a simple list on paper, ensure that tasks are ranked in order of priority and importance so that crucial assignments don’t get submerged in the minutiae.

A lack of preparation can lead to more worry; as Craig Jarrow author of the Time Management Ninja says in his blog, “When you leave things undone, they often create more work for you.” Picking up where you left off can take more time, especially when working from home; and if you’re behind on a deadline it can take even more time to catch up.

Consider getting up an hour earlier than the rest of the household to get a head start on your day. Highlight the most important tasks on your list, so that you know which ones must get done. At the end of each day compile your list for the next; so that at the start of every day you are ready to dive in and achieve!

Tags: Retirement, Health, Wealth

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