Sprout: Working from home – tips and tricks

As my new job will be home-based, I recently asked friends and followers on social media for their top hints and tips for productive home-working. They had lots of great ideas and I thought they might also be useful for anyone for anyone who doesn’t have an office or a comfortable office space (PhD students and postdocs come to mind). So, I thought I’d share them here.

I have lots of experience of working from home as a student, freelancer and remote worker but I have picked up lots of bad habits along the way, such as working in my pyjamas and only getting dressed if I need to leave the flat and, of course, getting distracted by housework, craft projects, endless cups of tea and snacks … (I doubt these are temptations befall only me!).

So, one great idea is to pretend you’re leaving the office to work. Get up, get washed and dressed, make and eat breakfast and then leave the house … even if only for a short walk round the block (I rather like the idea of going and getting a take-away drink!), before coming home and starting work. Then do the same at the end of the day. I love this idea. One of the things I’ve been concerned about is not getting enough exercise. This routine would mean that, at the very least, I’d get some steps in at the beginning and the end of the day.

Another tip: set clear boundaries. This is super important as it could become very easy for work and leisure time to meld into one – not good for mental or physical health and well-being. I don’t have a dedicated office (no spare room) but I do have a 1960s Scandi-style fold-away desk, a bit like this one. I’ve spent many hours over the last couple of weeks (yes, it has genuinely taken HOURS) to clear out all its cubby holes so that I can actually close and lock it at the end of the work day.

Get out of the house. Find somewhere you can comfortably work for a few hours. This is especially important if you start to feel lonely and isolated while working from home. I know I have to tendency to start feeling low if I don’t leave the flat for a while and this is already something I do on freelance days (in fact I’m typing this in a nice cafe at the moment!).

Some other ideas include jumping straight into the shower as soon as you wake up. I’m trying to get into a routine of doing this on work days so that by the time November and my new job roll around, it’ll be a habit. No more lounging on the sofa drinking tea in my pyjamas of a morning! I’m also thinking about putting together a small collection of work clothes – a few tops, bottoms and maybe a dress or jumpsuit or two. Items that are smart enough for an unexpected Skype call or lunch date with a friend but comfy and mix-‘matchable’. I’ve been doing this with teaching clothes – creating a uniform of sorts – over the last couple of years and it’s worked really well. Less time spent standing in front of the wardrobe wondering what to wear.

Have you got any tips for working from home? What works for you? Tell us in the comments below!

Sprout: nurture, grow, bloom

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Image by Minh Pham

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