It’s now been – ahem – a while since Boris announced the country-wide lockdown, with the entire of the U.K.’s non-essential workforce suddenly working from home full time.
After the initial giddiness at the prospect of an extra half an hour in bed, not having to battle the rush hour Northern Line twice a day, and a new work wardrobe comprising mainly loungewear and sliders, the reality of the situation settled in.
I don’t know about you, but I am not the kind of person that settled effortlessly into my new routine. I spent more than my fair share of days in the same pair of pyjamas and joined more than one Zoom conference call with bed hair (and accidentally flashed my “business-on-top party-on-the-bottom” outfit in one of them for good measure). I baked no wholesome home goods and home workouts were a laughable prospect (I live in a small flat in central London with very thin walls and a lot of neighbours).
About a week in, I realised that I needed to get my routine in order if I was going to survive this with any semblance of sanity in tact by the end of this lockdown. I’m sharing with you my idiot-proof tips, so you can feel like you have your sh*t together too. Even if it’s just the illusion of writing it down, it helps. Trust me.
Set an alarm
I’m not saying force yourself to get up at 6am every day (unless you want to, of course) when the length of your commute is from your bedroom to your living room. But waking up at the same time every day, early enough to wake up a bit before your workday starts, really does give a feeling of normality.
Set a dedicated workspace
I completed the majority of my degree from the comfort of my bed. Somehow, I managed it, but there is no question that this is the most unproductive thing you can do while working from home. Separate your workspace from your relaxing space. Living in a small flat, I don’t have the luxury of a home office. I have dedicated a small corner of my living room as my “office” and try and keep away from it out of work hours. Keeping a physical separation between work and personal life really helps with maintaining a mental distinction.
Write a to do list
At the beginning of every morning, write down everything you have to do that day. Not just work-related. Everything from sending that client email to hanging your washing. Write it down, feel your brain empty, and enjoy the motivation and satisfaction of ticking off your list as the day goes on.
Hide your phone
Your biggest distraction is your phone. Under normal conditions, expectations in a work environment (i.e. the watchful eye of your boss) is enough to limit the time you spend on your phone. But at home, your lack of willpower is free to reign supreme. Put your phone on airplane mode or switch it off, and put it in another room for the duration of your work day. Out of sight, out of mind.
Take regular breaks
This is an important one, for one of two reasons: you’re either the kind of person that, undisturbed, will work for six hours straight without a break and burn out, or the kind of person that will stare at your screen for six hours procrastinating and get nothing done, wondering where the hell the entire day went. Maybe you oscillate between the two. Either way, short bursts of productivity with the reward of a break (and access to your phone!) to look forward to is the easiest way to overcome this. Try 45 minutes work with 15 minutes break to start off with and adjust to your needs.
It’s far too easy to forget to drink for the whole day. The evening comes, and you haven’t had a drop of water. This makes you tired, brings on headaches, exacerbates stress and anxiety, and makes you eat more than you should as your body mistakes thirst for hunger. Keep a bottle of water on your desk and set yourself a goal – mine is at least two full bottles before lunch, two after lunch, and one in the evening.