David chats about working from home and offers six easy tips to help you.
Working from home has been an unexpected blessing, curse or fast-moving, roller coaster combination of the two. Whatever your experience, I think we can all agree it’s very different to working ‘at the office’ and one area we all may need to consider is how we switch into ‘work mode’ and then ‘decompress’ at the end of the working day back into ‘home mode’.
During the first few weeks of working from home, my days were longer and harder than I had been used to. I noticed I was getting tetchy throughout the day when ‘home stuff’ interrupted. I would also punish my laptop up to the absolute limit of ‘home time’ but the journey back ‘home’ was only 5 metres. Normally (as if there was such a thing) the journey was between 30 minutes and a couple of hours depending on where I had been working… by which time I had fully switched off and naturally decompressed into ‘home mode’.
So, to cope better with home-working, I needed to find a way to have a clear distinction between work and home and replace the journey home with a different and deliberate form of decompression (referring to the dictionary definition of ‘reduction in pressure’). So, here are six easy things you can do that have served me well. I hope you find them useful.
Have a specific workspace – not always easy to have a separate room unless you’re lucky enough to have a home office or study but have a space where you ‘go to work’.
Have clear boundaries – if you don’t live alone, make sure others know what the rules are when you ‘go to work’. Be clear about when you’re available and what for (such as answering the door or house phone, or taking the washing in if it rains!).
Have a hard stop – have a specific ‘end of working day limit’ and make sure that your colleagues and clients know what it is… then stick to it.
Pack up before leaving – make sure you pack away all your work stuff as if you’re leaving a hot desk at the office… I even still use my rucksack to pack up and then carry it with me on the ‘journey home’.
Have a fake journey home – create some physical distance and movement between your workspace and home… I literally put my coat on and carry my rucksack with me as I recreate my normal walk from the station.
Switch off and switch on – take some time for an alternative activity that’s not linked to work. Read the paper, do the crossword, listen to music… the sort of stuff you’d do on an actual journey home. This will wake up the non-work brain muscles and let the work ones shut down.