Day one hundred and something of working from home? Has this truly become ‘the new normal’? Here at Innermost we’ve also been adjusting to our new office/work/home living space over the past few months. When working from home was mandated upon us all in March, we were initially grateful for that extra hour in bed, no longer rushing onto a packed Tube in the morning and managing to maintain maximum comfort by staying in our slippers all day. As productivity seemed to be on the rise, we were all surprised at how much time we had to do everything from the comfort of our homes. However, as the months have passed us by, we think it’s fair to say that working from home has lost its sparkly appeal and instead become a minefield of distractions.
Here at Innermost HQ, we’ve tested all the tips and tricks we could get our hands on for boosting productivity and focus. Whether that be organising your workspace, making more time for yourself, or setting a super regimented schedule for the day – you name it, we’ve tried it. So we wanted to put together a list of our favourites that we’ve found help us best, just in case you’re not heading back into the Big Smoke any time soon…
1. Have a morning routine
Now that we have so much more time in the morning, we’re able to exercise, cook, read our favourite books, and sleep in all in the same amount of time we’d normally be doing our BC commute. The NHS advises that scheduling this commute time is still just as important, as if we were actually still going to work (even if we aren’t). Starting our day as we normally would helps us get in the mood for work and stops the boundaries between work and home becoming too blurred.
2. Designate a workspace
Determining whether we wanted our desks to be at the kitchen table or on the sofa was one of the very luxurious choices we had at the start of lockdown. However, the author Kristen Brown emphasises how important it is to designate a workspace in order to avoid leaving your thoughts, papers, ideas and productivity scattered all over. Many interior designers such as Yuna Megre advise us to de-clutter the area we work in in a way that optimises our space and also our thoughts. It’s then all about strategizing and utilizing the space around you for all the things you may need. If you need post-it notes or specific tech tools, then make sure you have enough space for these. Ensuring you invest in a good desk chair that has back support is also extremely important for preventing any back pain. We see you hunching!
3. Take regular breaks
Back in the day, it was far easier to take your mid-morning coffee break (or three) with colleagues, allowing you to have a break from your screen and stretch your legs. It’s now been said that due to working from home, we’re actually working harder than before with less breaks and longer hours as our home lives become blurred with work. Many have experienced feeling ‘Zoomed out’ and have said that they’re working longer hours than ever before. Taking a five-minute break every hour to make a cup of tea or take a quick walk around the block will help your brain re-focus and re-set, ready for another productive hour. If we can’t get away from our desks it’s also important to remember to alter our posture regularly. Do some simple stretching exercises at your desk and refocus your eyes by looking into the distance for a few seconds. Who doesn’t love a 10-minute mini workout?
A simple tip, but one that often gets overlooked. Scheduling enables us to ensure that the lines between our work and personal lives remain defined, but it also helps us work smarter hours so we don’t burn ourselves out. It’s all about setting out your priorities for that day before you start working, doing your most intense work when you know you’re at your most productive, organising regular breaks throughout the day, and making sure you stick to the timings you’ve allocated for yourself. A great schedule example can be found here, which breaks it down for you.
5. Dress for success
A friend once told us that they could only work from home if they were wearing proper shoes, otherwise they didn’t feel focused. Dressing for success is a sure-fire way to get us feeling more focused and productive. This also means getting up, showering and brushing our teeth, and doing all the things we’d normally do to go into work. Although wearing our favourite pyjamas may be far more comfortable, it can often make us feel sluggish, unmotivated and sleepy. If you find this one tough, we suggest laying everything out the night before or pre-planning your clothes for the week ahead. This can help get you up and about and also out of the house at the end of the day.
6. Screen time
Working from home for many of us means staring at screens all day. One of the most important tips for relaxing at the end of the day is to put down our phones and laptops, and take time to do something else to break up your day so you can unwind and decompress. We like to go for a run or walk, a fitness class, meet friends, cook, listen to a podcast, or curl up with a good book. As working from home has meant we’re now reliant on Zoom and video calls, it’s important to remember that we need to take even more time out.
Of course, it goes without saying that we’re all different so finding a one-size-fits-all approach to working from home will never be possible. However, we love these simple tips for helping us reset and refocus when it all gets a bit overwhelming. We hope it helps you boost your productivity and get you loving your working from home routine all over again.