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7 Ground-rules for staying sane while working from home

Adapting to working at home can be challenging on everyone’s mental health. We all deal very different to change and routine. However, here are some generic key tips to get you started in ensuring your wellbeing is prioritised during a lock down.

1. Keep a schedule and stick to it

It’s important to have structure and routine to your working day and stick to your hours of work as your work can start merging into your leisure time if you aren’t careful. If your employer has not implemented strict guidelines on taking breaks, then ensure you do. Give yourself a fixed lunchtime, let colleagues know this and even try and implement it within the team. Take short breaks from your computer. The following is a good guide.

Take a lunch break and a shorter break at least twice a day to do something to aid wellness away from work; this can be exercise, making a snack or a drink, or writing up a plan for your leisure time.

Government guidance suggests that more frequent breaks are also useful and should be implemented to avoid online fatigue. For example, the 20/20/20 rule is a good guide: Every 20 minutes look at something to do 20 meters away from your computer. If this is not possible, at least look to do a couple of minutes each hour away from your computer.

Where possible, try to implement working away from your screen, and plan meetings and daily or weekly schedules on paper.

“ …your work can start merging
into your leisure time. ”

2. Make a clear to-do list

Giving yourself a list of priority tasks is a good way to feel productive and aids wellbeing. These tasks can also be communicated with your team so everyone is collectively working on the same page. The feeling of being overwhelmed with your workload or confused about what needs doing and how that fits into what others are doing can easily be resolved through taking some time to make a checklist and communicating your objectives.

Completing your goals for the day will give you a better sense of accomplishment. Rome wasn’t built in a day so having a clearer plan will help you organise your thoughts and thus achieve your goals. Consequently, when you log off at the close of day, you will feel ready to put your work to one side and enjoy your free time.

3. Communication is key

One of the issues around working from home is the lack of feeling of working as a team and collaboration. It’s important to structure communication so there is a clear objective and agenda to any call or group conference call.

Throughout this period there can also be the feeling of too much unnecessary conversation, which can lead to the feeling of not being productive, so try keeping calls balanced and set a time frame on how long each should take.

4. Work-life balance at home

With change comes opportunity. Think of all those things you’ve wanted to do that you haven’t had the time for. Wellbeing can be improved by ensuring healthy eating and exercise. Why not look towards making a meal you wouldn’t normally have the time to make or investing time in one of the many on-line fitness courses available? If you have always wanted to explore a hobby, now is the time to do that! How about looking at home improvement or exploring your gardening skills?

Also, some people have said that their sleep patterns have been affected so try and keep to a good sleep routine with a regular bedtime on working days to give yourself at least seven hours sleep.

5. Give yourself a break

Go easy on yourself! We are dealing with a lot of change right now and having to adapt to that change. Try not to listen to all the negative press if that’s getting you down and instead look towards the positives. Feeling guilty if you haven’t got part of a project done and worried that you may have let the team down is not going to help your wellbeing so just be communicative. Everyone is in the same boat so take some time to explain that you are struggling to reach deadlines. Don’t feel overwhelmed by pressure and workload as this will only create more stress. Instead, ask yourself “what will happen if this is left till the morning” and discuss your options with your line mangers, stakeholders or team.

6. Try not to dwell on the negatives

You may be overworking to avoid paying too much attention to the crisis that is going on around us. Instead, try to focus on the positives in your life and what you have to be grateful for. Consider what you can do around the house that you’ve been meaning to get to or catch up with friends and family remotely. In short, there are always things that you can do to distract yourself so make sure you use your time in healthy and productive ways during this outbreak rather than overworking.

7. Support others 

Remember, everyone is in the same boat. Yes, we all deal very differently with challenging times, but the key is to support one another and that includes our colleagues.

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