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Working From Home? Here’s What I’ve Learnt Over The Past Seven Years

RULE NO.1: Don’t turn on the T.V.

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It’s a pretty cliched piece of content to post right now, but when hoards more people around the world began working from home I was convinced that I’d already addressed my top tips in blog post form. Alas that isn’t the case (or maybe my search SEO on the blog is just absolute poop – feel free to correct me!), so along with signposting you to the Government’s website that contains all the latest advise and information in regards to COVID-19, I thought I’d share with you how I’ve managed to work from home for the past seven years without going stir-crazy. Although I’m not sure that Mark would agree… 

Over the years I’ve worked in all kinds of settings; open offices, bars, kitchens, call centres, retail spaces and stock rooms, but seven years ago I was lucky enough to begin working for myself and with that I set up shop in our living space, setting up a wonky IKEA desk right next door to my kitchen bin. We’ve since moved and I’ve managed to squeeze a desk into our guest bedroom which acts as a working space for me during the week and has allowed me to spread out somewhat and not sniff fish all day after we’ve had salmon for dinner the night before. And that’s where the magic happens. If you’re trying to make magic at home right now too, then here’s what I’d suggest. STAY SAFE FOLKS! 

THE NUMBER ONE RULE. Don’t turn on the T.V. Just don’t do it. Been there, done that, watched every single of season of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ which (controversially) isn’t even that good. Don’t even use it for background noise – it sucks you in. If you need a bit of hum then stick on some music or a podcast, because the visual of a T.V screen is like a magnet for your pupils that just can’t look away. So keep it turned off and work in a room without one if possible so you’re not tempted to turn it on.

WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT. When working from home you either fall into one of two camps. Firstly there’s the ‘I need to put proper clothes on to feel productive‘ contingent, then there’s the ‘I’m going to wear the most elasticated outfit possible – wait is that cereal milk spilt down me or is it toothpaste?‘ crew. Neither is superior to the other and I’d suggest wearing whatever the hell you like to work at home in as long as you feel comfortable and productive and like you’re getting s**t done. I am a lazy B so of course fall into the latter category. The hack is to shed your dressing gown as you go down to answer to the door to the delivery people as you just look way more profesh without your big fluffy grey robe on. Trust me.

EAT WELL. This one is so important and it took me years of basically just eating biscuits all day to learn. One benefit of working from home is that you have a complete kitchen at your disposal to cook lots of tasty food in, so make the most of it! I try to have a hearty breakfast to keep me going – something like yoghurt with blueberries and granola – that’s quick and easy to put together. Then for lunch I like to make a salad, but prep all the individual components at the beginning of the week, so I can just combine them come lunchtime. This Pinch of Yum Avocado Kale Caesar Salad doesn’t sound that sexy, but tastes gooood. I take the stalks off the kale and store it in an airtight container with a piece of kitchen roll to stop it getting slimy, then I make the sauce and store that in the fridge too. For lunch I take a handful of kale, stir in the sauce, add some parmesan on top and some shredded chicken or spicy baked chickpeas if we have them. DONE.

MOVE WHERE POSSIBLE. I highly, highly recommend getting some movement in your day. Not only does it help to break your day up, it also works wonders for your mental health and is good for you *insert ‘Bacon Is Good For Me’ GIF*. For at-home workouts I’d recommend checking out Fitness Blender for HIIT routines that require little to no equipment (they have no jump routines for those of us who live in flats too!), or Yoga with Adrienne if it’s some stretching that you’re after. A walk outside to clear your head feels like heaven when you’ve been cooped up all day too. Of course this one is going to differ depending on the Government advice for where you are in the world, but if possible a walk outside either at the start of your day to energise, or at the end to signal the start of the evening feels lush.

USE TECH TO HELP OUT. The internet makes remote working a DREAM when it comes to keeping in touch. Try Zoom for free video conferencing software, Trello is a great way to manage projects within a team and store important documents, briefs and track progress, Monday is another project management tool that I use for sharing my editorial calendar with others and again tracking my progress with completed content. For general work chat Slack is a good option to keep your WhatsApp free from work-related bumf, and when all else fails just hold a Netflix Watch Party.

ESTABLISH A ROUTINE. Although this trying time means we have to be pretty flexible with plans, there’s something about establishing a routine that really helps to calm and ground me. So I’ve switched things up a bit – incorporating at-home workouts and a daily walk – to give me structured working hours. Even if we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic then I would suggest this anyway as tip as it helps me click into work-mode and stops me being lazy. The must-have points in your structure? A daily alarm (whatever time it is), a time slot that includes movement of some kind, working hours that suit your own personal energy flow (I’m more productive in the mornings so will always get the bulk of my load done then), a proper lunch break where you step away from your laptop and a definitive end time.

MY CURRENT STAY-AT-HOME ROUTINE

6:30AM – Alarm goes off, read in bed and catch-up with social media

7:00AM – At-home yoga practice, thanks to Yoga with Adrienne

8:00-9:00AM – Eat breakfast, shower and get ready for the day

9:00AM-12:00PM – Morning work session, focusing on higher priority tasks

12:00PM-1:00PM – Break for lunch

1:00PM-5:00PM – Afternoon work session, focusing on tasks that don’t take as much brain power

5:00PM-6:00PM – Go out for a daily walk or run (still permitted at time of writing, if you’re able to stay 2 metres away from others)

6:00PM onwards – Evening routine; making and eating dinner, reading, watching TV and movies or listening to podcasts, catching up with other tasks and hobbies


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Photos by Mark Newton

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