I’ve been working from home for over ten years and in that time I’ve managed countless projects, from a series of radio programmes to successfully relaunching a national newspaper.
Here’s some good practice that I’ve picked up along my journey that you can easily apply to your home office, wherever you may be.
1 Get your work head on
Going to work does not take the same amount of preparation as say – watching your favourite soap where you can walk into the room, sit down and away you go. You’re going to have to get out of first gear to go to work. If you’re finding it difficult to be self-motivated, try something different and put your thinking cap on – in the literal sense if you’ve got an array of baseball hats in the house. There is something about changing the way your head feels physically that can get you in the zone. If you don’t fancy wearing a hat indoors, then remember how you dressed when you were at your most potent work-wise and dress for the occasion. If I’ve got a big project on, I’ll often be found wearing black trousers, a grey jumper and a shirt and tie as that’s how I dressed in secondary school when I was young and full of vim. Equally, whilst I write this I’ve got headphones on to shut me off from the rest of the house to enter my world of work which also does the trick if you really want to work in your PJs…
2 Change the record
This is quite an effective visualisation technique where in order to divert your attention away from any repetitive intrusive thoughts you may be having – which may just be what you need to do to keep you kids on track today – you actually imagine putting on your favourite song on the stereo. I’ve used it so much over the years that my mind quite often “plays” some of my favourite tunes, particularly when I’m doing something practical like watching the dishes. Sounds a bit fancy? This bullet point can be simplified by getting a record [vinyl] player on and getting up to change the music after every side of an LP. If you’re working on your own at home, if you do this throughout the day this roughly matches how many times you’d be distracted by colleagues when you’re trying to get on with your work in the office.
3. Eat like you mean it.
You know you are what you eat and you’ve been told that an army marches on its stomach. So bear this in mind when you’re loading your plate. In the same way that a top athlete may carbo load before a game for extra energy and eat lean meat to keep the flab off, chances are that you need to eat ‘brain food’ if you’re using your mind in your 9 to 5. There are plenty of good books and websites out there, suffice to say that you’ve always known that fish – particularly oily fish – is a must in your diet and if it’s not then you should look into supplements. Equally, keep it simple and eat your 5 a day of fruit and veg and you’ll be well on your way to being Boss Cat in your neighbourhood.
4. Be busy
Because you already made a list of what you need – and maybe what you didn’t need – when you went for your weekly big shop, you’ve now got half a fridge full of fresh veg so you’re going to have to use it before it becomes unusable. Granted, that will take a bit of chopping, but as the knitting needle people know, the devil makes easy work of idle hands; so get chopping after you’ve been shopping. Different activities really do produce different brainwaves – the Eureka moment may have been in the bath but practical work such as vacuuming the house can be incredibly effective for problem solving. We’re beginning to understand that ‘distracting’ the mind with a different activity can be key to processing information which is why playing with Lego has been in vogue in the most agile boardrooms for quite some time.
5. Take it outside
A 20-minute walk up and down the same street may not be the most fun in the world, so on a nice day get outside and have your lunch al fresco. It’s the most fun you can have outside without your neighbours complaining. A by-product of this will be enough fresh air to see you through the afternoon until the evening – by which time you will be ready to watch your favourite soap or – Eureka! – have a bath.
After all that, you’ll be ready to go again in the morning. Have a great and restful weekend. Stay safe, stay home and stay well.