For some of us homeworking has now become a choice rather than something imposed upon us. For some it has brought benefits, and for others challenges to overcome. So how can we find our way to ensuring that working from home brings us exactly what we need, and when we need it?
I think for me it is important to know what your natural inclination is, what your preference is, whether you prefer working in the office or at home, and to understand why you prefer one over the other. Only you know which environment serves you best. This understanding can then bring you insight to how you might change things. For example if you really miss the social aspect of working with your colleagues in the office, then ensure that you maintain regular contact throughout the day. If you like the background noise of a busy office, then you may want to consider having some 'white noise' or other sounds to help you to focus. I like having birdsong on while I work, it isn't too distracting and helps me to focus on what I am doing, and also helps to block out the other sounds that people make in the house I live in.
I think when we begin to work from home we can be very hard on ourselves. We can feel we have to be busy and productive all the time, which can only bring in guilt when we take time out. I think remembering how much time we spent chatting to our team mates, or other natural distractions we had working in the office, can allow us to embrace those same distractions a little easier at home, so we are not so hard on ourselves. Although I am currently self-employed and work form home, for me establishing my own boundaries between my personal and professional life has made things a bit easier, creating my own structure so that I can get all my needs met and stay on track with work projects.
"Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important." Stephen Covey - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
As a Wellbeing & Therapeutic Coach I often use the 'Coaching Wheel' - a pie-chart split into about 8 segments representing different areas of your life, those dimensions of your life that are the most important for example; family & friends, relationships, work, finances, health & fitness, personal growth or spirituality, fun and leisure etc. and then you score yourself, typically from 1-10 in each area as to how fulfilled you feel about them. The same exercise can be done for a 24 hour period in your working day to see if you are obtaining the right amount of balance to ensure all your needs are met. Integrating the different areas and your priorities in your life will bring you more happiness. Remember to focus on what is important as much as the urgent tasks.
For me having a structure to my day and setting good boundaries can help to stop my home life sliding into my work life and vice-versa. To do that I work with my values to plan a value-driven daily schedule - I spoke about values in yesterday's blog, so it might be worthwhile having a read of that one. Linking your core values to your work day can help to give you more motivation, inspiration and help you make better decisions.
Create space. We don't all have a spare room or an office that we can use when working from home, so it is important to carve out an area that you can use to focus on work, and as much as possible bring some order to it, like having a box with your files, paperwork and laptop in so that you can get set up in the morning and put it away when you have finished at the end of the day. This can help to associate and send a message to your brain that you are starting your working day. You can create other rituals to help you get into work mode, like putting your personal phone on airplane mode or silent, making your favourite cup of tea or coffee, or dressing for work - even if it's only the top part visible on zoom. I think many of us have been guilty of being in our pyjama bottoms on a zoom.
Being realistic, this is something that has taken me a long time to embrace. My overly positive nature at times, can take on way more than I can handle, although it has been less so in recent years. When you have been home working for a while you can assess more accurately how long things will take and will be much better placed to manage your workload more effectively. Re-assessing how you are working regularly can help to stay on track.
Focusing on the positives. Look at what home working has brought you; perhaps, not having to commute, being able to cook yourself something hot for lunch, being able to sit in the garden at lunch time if you have one, or going for a walk with the dog, being there for your family, or getting extra chores done at lunch time. Being aware and being grateful for the positives and benefits of home working can help life your mood and keep you more motivating, particularly when we share them with others.
Having a morning ritual can help you get into a positive frame of mind for the day. Whether that is doing some yoga or meditation, going for a walk, doing some journaling, writing or visualising how you want your day to go, can all help to set you up to have a brighter day and bring you more opportunity for happiness. If you are time poor then going to bed a bit earlier and waking up earlier, even 10-30 minutes earlier, will help you to gain the benefits.
Celebrate! Often we can reach milestones and we let them pass by without recognition or celebration. I know I have let many milestones go in my life without celebrating them and I am working on that. I had worked really hard for a few months on my new website and remember pressing the launch button, then nothing. I didn't even do a little dance or a woohoo. I did however mention it to a very special friend who is very big on celebration, and then 3 weeks later I got a zoom invite to surprise event and a parcel in the post that I was told to open only when I had joined the event. My friend had organised a website launch party. I joined to find many of my friends all wearing the same T-shirt with my logo and website details on, I cried. It was such a wonderful moment and was a great reminder to me to celebrate. Of course the parcel was my own T-Shirt, which I duly put on and wore with pride. We only get one life, so making sure that we celebrate those special moments as much as we can ensures we top up on the natural joy that we find celebrating life.
Here's to celebrating life!
With warm wishes,