Work From Home Without Going Crazy: The definitive list of WFH do’s and don’ts

09/06/2020

Work From Home Without Going Crazy: The definitive list of WFH do’s and don’ts

Since the COVID-19 pandemic knocked the world off its feet, many of us have been forced to make the transition from working in an office to working from home. And boy is it a challenge.

With the inevitable “new normal” that we’re all expected to live, it seems that working from home isn’t just a passing trend, but something companies are seriously considering on a medium-to-long-term basis. 

We’ve created a list to help all you work-from-homers get the most out of this new way of life without driving yourself up the wall. Here is our list of WFH Do’s and Don’ts.

 

Do’s:

Get moving

Your body needs to move. 

Whether working from an office or from the comfort of your own home, daily stretching and light to moderate exercise is an essential part of keeping both your mind and body healthy. 

As soon as your alarm sounds get up and dedicate 5 to 10 minutes of stretching. Stretching triggers various parts of your body that were lying dormant during sleep and helps with blood flow, allowing you to think clearer during the day. 

Getting in 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise is also essential to physical and mental health and has been shown to significantly impact one’s attitude and ability to focus. 

If you’re not used to regular exercise, start by taking a brisk morning walk around your neighbourhood, or a beginners yoga class online and gradually work your way up to more intensive activities.

Set goals

Goal-setting is imperative in the transition from office to home. 

With the newfound autonomy that you will likely experience, it’s easy to take on tasks throughout the day without giving much thought to their priority, or even worse, procrastinate getting the more difficult tasks out of the way. 

This is where goal-setting comes in. 

Before you start work (or better yet, the evening before), make a list of the top three tasks you want to accomplish that day. All other work-related tasks, emails, or other responsibilities should come secondary to the three you’ve put on your list. 

Having a prioritised to-do list helps you keep on track and fight the urge to procrastinate or get distracted with less-important activities.

Eat regular (healthy) meals

A common pitfall for those working from home is not eating regular meals at normal hours throughout their day. 

We get it. 

A handful of crisps here. 

A couple of Digestives there. 

But grazing on snacks all day long isn’t only a bad habit, it can be detrimental to your body and mind. Let’s be frank, if we were snacking on fresh veg all day long, this wouldn’t be much of a problem. But the fact is we aren’t. 

We tend to snack on foods that are high in saturated fats, sugars and salt. These foods are not only high in calories but lack the nutrients our bodies need to function optimally. 

Make sure you are eating a minimum of 3 proper meals a day that include a source of lean protein (turkey, chicken, white fish), complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa), fresh veg, and a bit of healthy fats (avocado, olive oil). If you’re still craving dessert, opt for fresh fruit or a square of dark chocolate. 

Maintaining a healthy diet and eating at regular times everyday will provide your body the energy it needs to stay alert, focused, and productive throughout the day.

Schedule breaks

Another trap work-from-homers often fall into is spend their entire day glued to their computer screen, taking very few or no breaks during working hours. This results in tired eyes, unhealthy eating habits, joint and muscle pain, and most of all, burn out. 

Every 20-30 minutes look up from your computer, get up, and stretch. Every 2 hours try to get in a short walk, be it around the house, in the garden or around the block. You may even want to ring up a close friend or relative for a quick chat.

Disconnecting from your responsibilities and taking some “you” time will keep you refreshed and energised throughout your day at home and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with your workload.

Clock out

When 6:00pm hits…TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER. 

We’ll say it one more time for the people in the back. 

When it’s time to stop working…STOP WORKING!

You may not be using timestamps, but “clocking out” while working from home is a must.

As tempting as it is to respond to your boss’s late-night email or make some final touches to that PowerPoint deck, having a clear cut-off time is important for your own sanity and if you live with others, their sanity, too. 

Working from home means there’s little to no separation between your personal and professional life, and that is dangerous.

Make sure that you log off of your work apps and try to avoid setting up meetings either too early or too late in your day. This allows you to completely disconnect from work and dedicate the rest of your day to you, your significant other, family or friends, which is much needed in this “new normal”.

 

Don’ts

Work from bed

You know you’ve done it. We all have. 

But working from your bed (or sofa, futon, recliner, etc.) is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it bad for your posture, it’s likely to have you in a constant state of drowsiness. 

Set up a proper work space in your home, complete with desk, chair, and in a space that has access to natural light. Ideally this set-up would be in a separate room that isn’t your bedroom or living room. 

Also, get furniture that is meant to be used for ergonomic purposes, as they will be designed with work in mind.

Work in PJs

“But they’re just so comfy…”

We get it. This one’s tough. But this has more to do with the psyche than it does with the effect Marks & Spencer’s cotton pyjama pants has on your productivity levels.

In your normal routine, you’d probably wake up, change out of your nighttime outfit and into a fresh set of clothes before leaving for work. This tiny part of your routine aids you in making the mental transition from off-time to work-time. 

Changing into daytime clothes is a way to signal to your mind that you are now in “work-mode”. 

Now don’t get us wrong. We’re not saying to go the full nine here. No need for a suit, tie and cufflinks. A simple pair of chinos or jeans and a presentable shirt or top will do.

Fill your agenda

Have you ever opened up your Outlook calendar and almost fell off your seat after seeing the crazy number of meetings you have been scheduled for that day? 

With so many meetings (many of which certainly should have been emails), it can be hard to get any actual work done.

A good practice is to take necessary measures to keep your calendar from filling up. This means turning off Slack notifications, closing your email, and blocking out time slots in your calendar so you can hyper-focus on the tasks you want to get done. 

You can also take some of this blocked-off time for learning. Without the distractions of people surrounding you in an office setting you can dedicate more time to projects or self-development that will further help you in your job.

Multitask

Multitasking was once seen as a plus on one’s curriculum. But times have changed. 

In recent years more and more studies have been released evidencing the fact that multitasking can actually be detrimental to productivity and ability to problem-solve.

While you’re multitasking, you’re constantly switching your attention from one problem to another, making it impossible to concentrate on one particular problem or task at a time. The more you do this, the more your brain becomes accustomed to shifting tasks, making it even more difficult for you to concentrate on one thing with complete concentration.

Multitasking also increases stress, as it puts more pressure on the brain. Our brains are not meant to concentrate on more than one task at a time, so when we do, we become overloaded and overwhelmed. As a result, tasks take longer to complete, and we end up less productive. 

While working from home, concentrate on one thing at a time, complete it, and move on to the next.

Beat yourself up

This is perhaps the most important tip of all. 

It’s easy to get down on yourself while working from home. Without your normal commute, face-to-face meetings or office events you think you should be able to get more done. 

You should have responded to more emails. You should have taken one more look at that Excel. You should have gotten ahead on the monthly sales pipeline report. 

Stop.

Picking yourself apart won’t do you any good. Remember, we’re living in some pretty trying times right now. The world has been turned upside down and lots of us are finding ourselves a bit off balance. 

Making the transition from office to working from home isn’t easy, and nobody is expecting you to become a WFH whizz overnight…so why should you!? 

Learn to be kind to yourself. Celebrate your completed tasks, learn lessons along the way and enjoy the time you have away from work. 

 

And there you have it! Our definitive list of WFH do’s and don’ts. We hope it gives you some inspiration that helps you work more productively and happily from your own home. If you found this blog helpful, pass it on to friends and colleagues who you think would benefit!