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Tips for Working From Home

1. Get Started Early

Get up, have a morning routine, and get dressed. This is an important way to signal to yourself that your mode has changed. It is tempting to stay in your pyjamas, but this will make you feel less productive and confident. Also, lets not forget, that we are in 2020, and will be having a lot of video meetings!

2. Designate a Workspace or Home Office

This is important, even if you live in a small place. It can keep from work and home life ‘blurring’ together, and mentally signal you to switch on and off when you are in this space. It is better if possible to have some natural light in this space, and that you are comfortable, as you will be here for many hours of the day. It also means that after completing the days work, you can ‘disconnect’ more effectively by leaving the space (or packing up if you need the space). It is better for productivity as well as your personal life to have this separation.

3. Have Defined Working Hours

The biggest difference between working from home and working in the office is that you are in charge of your environment and have to treat yourself like an employee. This means holding yourself accountable, but also recognizing when enough is enough, just as a good manager might.

If you feel yourself extending your work hours because you aren’t doing anything in the evening…tell yourself it’s time to put work away, recharge, and start tomorrow with a fresh mind. The work will be there in the morning.

4. Watch for Distractions

Distraction is one of the big challenges facing people who work from home— especially people who aren’t used to it. Your home is right in front of you. That means that whatever you’re usually thinking about getting home to after work is now with you. It’s human to get distracted. But you need to be wary of how much you let yourself get distracted.

You probably already take a few breaks throughout the day at the office, and that’s fine to do at home, too. Using that time to throw in a load of laundry is OK, but try not to look at your new work arrangement as an opportunity to finally clean out that closet or anything else that takes a lot of sustained focus.

Right now, one of the biggest distractions is the news. And if you’re working remotely because of the new coronavirus, checking in on COVID-19 updates is going to be at the front of your mind. It’s good to stay informed, of course, but it’s also easy to scroll yourself into an anxious mess.

5. Communicate

If you don’t usually work from home, chances are there will be some bumps in the road when you have to suddenly go fully remote. The key to steering through these bumps is communication—especially with your manager and direct reports. With your manager, come up with a plan that lays out expectations for how often you should check in and how you’ll convey any changes or new assignments to one another. Do the same with anyone you usually work collaboratively with throughout the day.

This plan is likely to change as you go. And that’s OK. This is a new situation for everyone. So make sure to circle back and change the plan if problems come up. You’ll also encounter unique challenges as you try to do your job remotely, which can vary greatly depending on the type of work you do. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the same people you would usually turn to for help—even if you’re not in the same building as them. You can check in with your team by calling, or setting up a Microsoft Teams video chat- this can both cut down on miscommunications, but also help you feel less isolated, which can be a consequence of working from home.

Contributed by Dr Sana Kausar – Family Medicine Consultant, King’s Marina Medical Centre.