For almost a month now I have been working from home full time. Not that I didn’t work from home sometimes before. I definitely did when I had piles of grading to do and actually since the start of this school year I switched to a full time contract, but with one working from home day just to get stuff done. Because in my experience, I always get much more done at home than I do at the office. There are generally fewer distractions, the coffee is better (true story!) and I get to sleep in as I don’t have to commute. I realize though that for some people working from home may be new (if it is even possible!) and so I thought I would give you my top 5 tips for working from home.
Seriously! Working from home does not mean you get to bum around all day. It helps me greatly with my productivity to get ready like I normally would. That means I have been doing a full face of makeup on work days (I still have to be on camera for meetings and classes) and get up, have breakfast and get dressed. You won’t believe the magic that happens when you put on actual pants rather than your joggers.
Take a break
At home I find it easier to get into what they call ‘flow’. As there are fewer distractions, I can really get into that zone where I just keep going and don’t know how to stop. So I set myself goals: I will grade X amount of papers and then I get to grab a cup of coffee. Or: I will do emails until X time and then I’ll have lunch. This way you give your brain a chance to unwind and your body to get moving as you get up and do something differently. It helps me a lot if I sit somewhere other than where I am working. Be it my couch or my balcony: anything to help my brain to understand it can switch off.
Curb the screen time
This of course depends on what kind of work you do, but now that even all my classes are online, I spend even more time behind my laptop. So I try to actively build in moments now to not sit behind my screen all day. Otherwise I’ll run the risk of turning on my computer at 8.30 in the morning and keep going until 6 at night and I still create content for my blog and Youtube channels during the evening. So I have been making a point of reading a chapter during a break, or just stare out the window. Whatever I can do to not stare at a screen yet again.
Try to do work that does not require a screen
One of my colleagues actually gave this tip and it is linked to the previous tip. If you find yourself spending just too much time staring at a screen it can be helpful to create a task that doesn’t require a computer. My colleague went into work to print papers so it would be easier to grade and he could sit outside in the sunshine while doing so. I have been prefilming classes by casting my laptop screen to my TV and using it as a smartboard. I just stand in my living room, with the camera I use for Youtube videos on my tripod and it just feels more like I am actually teaching. That means that when I meet students online I can focus on their questions and they can rewatch the class if need be.
Know when to stop
Now that I am stuck at home I find it very tempting to work even more. I edit my videos on the same laptop so it is tempting to log in and quickly send that e-mail or look up that grade later in the day. So what I have been doing, very deliberately, is to switch off my computer at the end of the day and put it away. Just to give myself that ‘hard break’ between my work day and my leisure time. On very busy days, I have been liking going outside for a bit too. Either to go for a walk or even if it is just to return a parcel or get something at the grocery store. I find that works even better.