Groundhog Day - Home Office Version
Social distancing added to the now often mandatory home office will make every day slowly feel the same. Your new normal might already be sleeping in and staying in bed and breakfasting underneath the blanket while scrolling through your emails. The smartphone and Netflix might have become intrinsically part of your work.
All these habits will suggest to your brain anything but productivity or work atmosphere. To stop this groundhog day from impeding on your work, establishing a daily routine in your home office is essential.
We’ll show you 8 easy ideas to start a better daily home office routine. Start reading or skip to certain tips:
- Morning Routine
- Home Office Outfit
- The Right Place
- Pre-Work Planning
- Break Habits
- Advantages of Home Office
- End of a Work Day
- After Work Reward
The Early Bird...
doesn’t stay in bed forever! So set yourself an alarm and resist the urge to ignore it, or it will just lead to procrastination. That’s what weekends are better suited for. If you really can’t rise as early on weekdays, make a compromise. Instead of hitting snooze, set the alarm a little later, since you saved some time on the commute. However, there are better ways to beat tiredness than staying 10 minutes longer in bed.
‘Take a walk before you start your home office shift,” my friend recommended to me. Tried and tested! Every weekday you can now find me take a short walk around my block. This imitates the walk I’d usually take to the office. By now it actually has become something I look forward to, as it gives the impression of normalcy. It also teaches my brain that after a walk, I really have to get to work. Additionally, the daylight in the morning helps to trick our biorhythm, if we’re not naturally wired to feel awake and energized early in the day.
If you don’t want to go out, exercising indoors can also help to get our body wake up. So go and join an online workout class.
What should I wear? The best Home Office Outfit for you!
Now that we’ve checked off the morning routine we can come to another aspect that could affect your mindset during work: your outfit! Lots of people would say to refrain from wearing shabby clothes, even at home. I’d say I mostly agree, since for me to feel productive, my outfit isn’t allowed to feel or look like a pyjama.
My personal recommendation: just wear things that rarely see the light of day. How about the splashy shirt or the patterned trousers, combined with a ‘clashing’ pattern without having to fear any judgement but from yourself or people you live with. In these hard times even something as simple as clothes can lift spirits, so make them bright.
Take a Seat, but do it right: The Working space in the Home Office
Before you start working, rethink where you sit for it. The bed neither is a good place for productivity, nor for balancing a coffee or tea mug. Ideally you have a separate office room you can work in but generally a table mainly used to work at will do too. Either way, your brain should start associating the place with working. Therefore, even using a different seat at a dining table than you’d usually eat at will make difference. If you have the ability to use a room divider to further separate working from leisure space, even better!
Natural or artificial daylight also works wonders. Window seats thus will be the best option but special daylight lamps are another good investment for darker rooms. On warm days, a table at the balcony or in the garden can be used too. However, I would refrain from working there the entire day as these places just encourage leaning back and relaxing and again, don’t get associated with work.
Whether inside or outside, most people work best in relative silence. If you can’t ensure that, noise cancelling headphones will be your new best friend! Once the right workspace is found, you still have to settle into the right sitting position. Not everyone has an office chair, even if they are a great health investment. There are other ways to take care of your joints if that isn’t an option.
Fitforwork has a great article showing us how to sit right (I know I had to adjust my position reading it).
Preparations done: Time for Work Tips
Begin your work day ideally the way you would in your office. Maybe you make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, or you eat breakfast to get your brain going. In a time, in which social distancing has been part of our everyday life, take the time to say good morning to your colleagues, even if it is virtually. It helps to make all parties feel less isolated.
Next, start planing and set goals: what do you want to achieve today and especially, how much time do you want to spend on each task? It is easier to stick to a work schedule you have set yourself. Maybe a to-do list helps, since ticking off tasks will show your success.
What also helps me is to know my strengths and weaknesses. I work best in the morning, from 10.00-12.30, so I put the hardest tasks in that timeframe. Lighter tasks, like a bulk of Emails can wait until the afternoon hours for me.
Also, plan in so called ‘sprints’, short intense intervals and put in regular breaks in between. Speaking of breaks…
Even the Home Office needs Scheduled Breaks!
Treat yourself with regular resting phases and don’t just spend them on the phone. Plan short and long breaks the same way you schedule tasks. And stick to them. A to-do list should keep you accountable. Short resting can increase your productivity and keep you concentrated for the work sprints.
In contrast, phones can relatively easily seduce you to spend 15 rather than 5 minutes of scrolling through your social media feed. That’s why: keep your phone far from your work space and the tv switched off while you work.
Instead, use breaks for some stretching. Your back will thank you if you stand up for checking mails. Or take walks in your apartment while you talk with your colleagues on the phone.
Advantages of Home Office!
With all this heaviness that Corona and social distancing entail, your home shouldn’t feel like a heavy burden too. So even if this entire article is an ode to discipline, don’t forget the advantages of home office. You can stretch weirdly without having to do it in an elegant manner, you can dance to your office playlist just because (you don’t have one? next day’s to-do list is needs to include it).
Also allow yourself to create some healthy snacks or to grase through some candy every once in a while. Put some plants on your work desk and have a home oasis. Don’t forget to digitally socialize, since we all need a coffee and chat in our routines.
Cool down - The last Stretch in a Home Office day
Before you completely shut off for the day, review what you accomplished. Which tasks have you completed and how satisfied are you with the results? How could you improve your daily routine? A to-do list is helpful to have an actual record of everything and keep yourself accountable.
Then write down 3 things you plan to achieve the next work day. At the end of a week you can also benefit from reviewing and celebrating all you have managed to do. If there are things you could improve on, actually make it a point to adjust accordingly.
After work treats!
Time to plug out! I’m really consequent and shut down Slack and the work Email at the end of the night. That’s easier to do when you know you actually worked hard during the hours you set yourself. Since Covid-19 also forces us to stay in the same four walls even after walk, it’s the perfect time to leave the spot you sat in. Maybe go into the kitchen and make a great dinner or dessert. Or do some after work yoga with Rituals or take a nice bath to combat tensions.
Because one thing is sure: you will be able to stick to a daily home office routine much better when you reward yourself afterwards! That can be any way you like of course. Once you have stuck to a set plan for a week you’ll see how much easier it gets from day to day. Make your daily routine into a weekly routine, always mindful of allowing yourself flexibility and for bits to be adjusted.
We hope you keep your head up,
Your Smunch Team