By Rebecca Seal /The Guardian
Need inspiration? Follow these tips on working from home for the long haul.
Have a work box
If you don’t have a separate room, you can still create space for yourself. “If you’re working on the kitchen table, then the most simple thing is to have a big box. Shove everything in it at the end of the day and then get it all out next day,” says office designer Emma Morley. For me, this is a shelf in a kitchen cupboard. At the end of the day, I shut the door on it all.
Keep bright light for daytime
Home workers regularly underexpose themselves to daylight and overexpose themselves to blue light from screens at night. Many of us work late into the evening and then find it impossible to sleep. Our brains have been confused into thinking we’re trapped in a never-ending day.
Go outside during daylight hours, several times if you can, and let natural light work its endorphin-releasing, mood-regulating magic. Work near a window, if possible. Otherwise, fit daylight bulbs into your office lights, switching them off at dusk and changing to warmer-toned, lower lighting.
One of the most common problems home workers tell me about is feeling cold all day because they don’t want to turn on the heating just for themselves. Being warm enough is more important than we might think, though: a study on office temperature showed productivity increased as the temperature rose to 22C (but started to fall as it got hotter).
Give yourself time to recharge
The more you push yourself, the harder everything becomes. You drain your reserves, leaving nothing in the tank for the next round of work (or life).
Recharging is more important now than ever, and probably harder to achieve, too. I try to find pockets of recovery by growing herbs on a windowsill, watering the house plants, mending things, tidying cupboards and going for walks alone without my phone.
Set your own office rules
Routine is crucial, because it helps focus become habitual. Habits require less willpower and we have a limited amount of willpower each day. If you use up some of it bickering with yourself about when to start working, it will be harder to access more willpower when you need it for other things.
If parts of your day or week are a given, you need far less willpower. If you’ve made certain decisions – that work starts at 9.30am and finishes at 5.30pm, only to look at emails after midday, not to buy biscuits – then you don’t need to make them again.
Careers coach Karen Eyre-White helps her clients to plan what she calls an Ideal Week on paper. “Having a clear idea makes it much more likely that you’ll start to adapt your habits towards that ideal, and make decisions that support it.”
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