Big changes? Focus on the small things | Working from home during COVID-19

The reality of working from home is far from the daydream you might already have had. If you’ve ever spend your day in your usual workplace, wishing you could be at home in your comfy clothes, enjoying the birds singing in the garden, while your pets doze peacefully around you… the current situation might be a bit of a slap in the face.

The reality of working from home might involve sleepy pets and birdsong – but will also have plenty of challenges with it too.

Slower WI-FI, noisy family members, and a lack of dedicated quiet workspace will be getting on everybody’s nerves soon. So today I want to give you some small and simple things to focus on, and some little changes to make, to get you through the big change.

We all know the basic rules – get out of bed on time, don’t spend the day in your pyjamas, and keep a sense of routine. But there is plenty more you can do to stay mentally happy and healthy through this period.

The issue of physical space

On the one hand, it might feel a bit taboo to say anything unflattering about our children or our significant other. On the other hand, when we are all stuck under the same roof for a prolonged period of time, it will bring out the worst in us. Remember Christmas? Yeah, we are going to annoy each other a bit.

Plan for this by rearranging your home space a little. I’m not talking bout any thing extreme – just a few sensible measures like making sure the noisy games console (and noisy players) stays as far away from your quiet work spot as possible.

Consider what might annoy you; the TV, the washing machine, or the noise of your neighbours outside, and set up some boundaries to protect your workspace.

If you can, being near a window for some natural light and fresh air will make a big difference to you too.

The issue of mental space

Routine is important to all of us – it really is human nature. While working from home you might want to seek out some silver linings by relaxing your routine a little. Maybe you will get to enjoy an extra hour in bed, instead of your usual commute. Perhaps you will watch a little TV on your lunch break, or take advantage of having your kitchen to make your lunch fresh, rather than making a packed lunch.

But you will still want some sort of routine – even though it’s relaxed. There are many reasons for this; it helps you feel a sense of normality, it helps you to focus, and it supports productivity.

It’s also important that you’ve been productive during the day so that when the evening comes, you can unplug that laptop, guilt free, and mentally switch modes to home time.

If at any point you find being stuck indoors in close proximity to your family to be overwhelming, then it’s time to take a little mental health break. Many of us will feel the pressure to push on and maintain business as usual – but our situation isn’t usual, and it’s perfectly okay for you to have the odd wobbly moment.

Take a breather when you need to. Walk around your garden if you have one – lock yourself in the bathroom if you need to! Just make sure you take those sanity breaks when you feel the urge.

Slow WI-FI, and other irritations

We are so used to having everything we want available to us at the click of a button. It is possible that in the coming weeks your usual favourite foods might not be available, you might not be able to visit your usual coffee shop for your regular order, and you may even run low on toilet roll!

Remember how immensely resourceful and resilient humans are – there was life before the Starbucks app and Amazon Prime! But okay, joking aside, we are going to have to put up with some inconvenience.

Working from home, for most people, will mean slower WI-FI among other annoyances. We are going to have to take some deep breaths and remember to focus on what we can control, not what we can’t.

We are all in the same boat, so nobody is going to expect you to be working at 100% productivity. We will all be doing our best and just mucking in until this period of time passes.

The big picture

Despite our best efforts, things will irritate us, slow us down and dare I say it, we might even miss commuting or the office. But the big picture is that this is temporary, and everybody is going through this together, which means we can all understand each other. Having a common enemy does bring people together, and who knows what we might learn during this time.

What you can control is the decisions you make about managing your home and working environment during this time. You can decide to give yourself a break, and you can decide to make the most of being closer to your immediate family for a while.

If you would like some more mini pep talks as time goes on, head over to my Instagram account and join the conversation. I will be sharing more tips and creating space to talk.

See you there!

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