I’ve been working from home for over 10 years. When I started, it was difficult to get used to this new way of working after being in a busy, open-plan office with 100+ co-workers. I’ve developed a few tricks over the years to help me make the most of working from home and I’m sharing them to help you get through the COVID-19 isolation with some sanity.

Tip #1 : Stick to a Routine

When you head off to work you follow a routine; read the headlines on the bus, grab a coffee at your favorite cafe, stop to say hello to a colleague. Why should now be any different?

Set an alarm to start work and take breaks at the same time you would when in work. Check-in with a colleague for a morning catch-up. When the work day is over, switch off the computer and walk away. Take a walk outside the house to try to transition from the working space to the home space.

Tip #2 : Define a workspace

Find a space within your house or apartment that you can refer to as your ‘place of work’ and only use it for working. If space is limited and you haven’t an area you can dedicate to work, use a quiet space during working hours but make sure anything related to work is put into a bag or box at the end of the day.

Tip #3 : Let others know your schedule

There have been times when both myself and my husband have been working from home. We found that we worked best if we tried not to schedule video or phone calls at the same time (especially when the internet connection wasn’t great). If we were working on something requiring our full attention, we would block out some time in our shared calendar. We gave each other the space we needed to focus on the task at hand without disruption.

I know this same system doesn’t work very well with small children around. But if you are able to be flexible with your working hours, it can work. When my son was young, I would work for an hour before he got up and for a few hours after he went to bed – only client calls were scheduled during the day so I could focus on parenting duties.

Tip #4 : Reduce distractions

It’s easy to be distracted by social media and little jobs which need doing around the house. First switch off notifications from social media platforms, log out of personal emails, and, if possible, turn off your phone. Get a notepad or piece of paper and when you notice a job which needs doing which isn’t related to the task you’re doing, write it down. Re-visit the list when your workday is finished – the dishwasher can wait to be unloaded.

Tip #5 : Celebrate what you’ve accomplished

(This goes for working away from the home too)

Once you’ve finished a task, especially one that required a lot of focus, celebrate what you’ve accomplished. I have a secret stash of my favourite coffee hidden at the back of a cupboard. I celebrate by taking time to make a coffee and enjoy every sip looking out at the garden. It’s like a reset button – I appreciate what I’ve accomplished and prepare for the next item on the to do list.

I hope these tips help you navigate home-working successfully.

Good luck!

Sarah Mitchell

Sarah Mitchell

Founder, Exploring Solutions