‘Be careful what you wish for’ never felt more apt. For all of us who’ve ever dreamt of hitting the snooze button, skipping the overcrowded commute or working in your pyjamas, the reality might be somewhat different than we pictured. Sure, there are upsides, but as this new normal begins to take hold, it is important to establish some healthy routine in order to stay both productive and mentally well.
At Kintsugi, several of our editorial team already work from home so we understand the challenges that this can present. Here, we give our top tips for working from home and staying sane…
Get dressed for the day: while it is tempting to work in your comfiest sweat pants and an old T-shirt it is far better for your mental health to treat this as a normal working day – get up, showered and dressed in work clothes before you sit down to your computer. It will psychologically prepare you for a working day ahead and stop the day endlessly drifting into the evening. Save your PJs for the end of the workday, it will send a signal that it’s time to relax.
Move your desk to somewhere dedicated to work: ideally with a window or under a window. If you are facing a wall put up pictures or a mirror. Don’t block energies by facing dead space but ensure what’s beyond your laptop, and in your eyeline, is enlightening and inspiring.
Maintain regular hours – and ‘leave work’: with no commute to jostle past and no side-eye from a boss when you slink in at 9.30 it’s easy to drift into ‘ish’ territory – ‘I’ll start work at 9ish… I’ll stop at 6ish…’. Set your working hours, allowing time for a coffee or social media break both mid-morning and mid-afternoon. And make sure you have a cut-off period at the end of each day, with no office to ‘leave’ your workday can easily get a lot longer. Be strict and ‘go home’ at the end of the day. Think about how your energy levels rise and fall throughout the day: and plan your schedule around that. If you’re good in the morning, rise early and work until 2 or 3pm. Or take a longer break in the middle of the day – 1pm – 3pm and then work later in the evening.
Put things on your desk that make you happy: A calm space is a productive space, so thinkcandles, fresh flowers, family photographs, quotes that inspire you (our new Intension cards make the perfect desk-friendly décor if you are looking for daily inspiration).
Play music: Getting used to the quiet after a noisy office can be a bit disorientating. Spotify and other streaming channels have great playlists with soothing or stirring classical or instrumental music that provide great background accompaniment without being too invasive.
Get the temperature right: This is important, too hot and you’ll be restless, too cold and you won’t be able to concentrate. Have socks and a jumper to hand.
Drink plenty of water: we all know we should be doing this anyway but remember that hydration has a huge effect on energy levels and brain function. If you’re the type to get lost in work and forget the fill up a jug and place it on your desk next to your favourite glass. Feel free to add cucumber slices or citrus fruits to liven it up a touch.
Try the Pomodoro method: 25 minutes of concentrated work before a 5-minute break (ideally go outside for this if you can to inject some fresh air and Vitamin D into your day). After 4 sets, take a longer break of around 30 minutes. This is a great way to help you to knuckle down as 25 minutes is a manageable time – set a clock and stick to the timer, even if you’re in the middle of something, you never know, a breath of fresh air might just help you to come up with a new solution.
Keep an eye on snacking: it’s easy to fall into bad habits when working from home, partly because you’re just looking for a break, but eating too much (especially sugar) will have a detrimental effect on your energy levels and focus. During set breaks find other things to do, drink water, go outside, do 10 star jumps, read an article in your favourite magazine or call a friend for a quick catch up – they’ll probably be in the same position!
Switch off: learning how to switch off properly is an essential part of working from home. Keep to your set hours and do something to signal to your brain that the workday is over – perhaps run a bath, light a candle, listen to some music or a podcast or move into a different room if you can. Keeping a clear differentiation between work life and home life is key to staying sane.