26 top tips to successfully work from home

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Many of us are now facing the prospect of working from home for the foreseeable future whilst we wait for the coronavirus pandemic to blow over. This may be something you have never had to do before which can be worrying to some. You could be asking yourself several questions, such as how will I manage it, how will I maintain healthy relationships and how will I maintain a healthy mind?

Here at McGowan Transcriptions our team have been working from home for the past 26 years so it’s what we know and do best. We have put together 26 tips and tricks to help you successfully work from home.

1. Routine is vitally important. Try to stick to your usual morning routine you would do when going into work. Get up at the same time and get showered and dressed as usual. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can have extra time in bed and then log in still in your pyjamas.

2. Keep your working hours the same. Don’t let the flexibility of working at home blur the lines of work and home life.  Keep your start, lunch and finish time the same as a normal working day.

3. Make sure your hands are warm. You can type much quicker with warm fingers.

4. Make sure to take regular breaks. Mind suggests taking a short break every 2 hours for a cuppa or a short walk around the garden, if you have one, to re-energise and reset your attention. It could be advisable for some to set alarms so these important breaks don’t get missed.

5. Get outside! Sunlight and fresh air are so important for our mood, health and productivity so get out there if you can.  For the exercise we are allowed to do outside, try to do this in the middle of the day to make most use of the sunlight!

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6. Exercise. Working from home will mean you will naturally be less active so make sure to find some time to do a form of exercise either before or after work. As gyms are closed you can find plenty of routines available online to follow. If you don’t have dumbbells you can use soup tins/bottled water, or perhaps purchase some resistance bands online.  You don’t have to do a full workout, there are many pages on FaceBook who offer live programmes for walking on the spot, while chatting about pretty much anything and everything!

7. Try and place a couple of plants around your desk. Plants have shown to improve air quality, increase attention span, improve creativity, lower stress and stabilise mood.

8. Tackle more difficult tasks when you are at your most alert (e.g. in the mornings or afternoons) and save the less demanding tasks for the rest of the day.

9. During your working hours make sure to move around as it’s easy to sit for hours. Use sit/stand apps (Stand App, Stand Up!, Standland) or simply climb your stairs/walk around every so often to improve your circulation.

10. If possible, try to set up your computer in a spare room/office. This allows you to keep your home and work life separate by creating a locational divide.

11. On the contrary, you may wish to set up your computer in different locations throughout the week to give yourself a change of scenery. Try both and see what method works best for you!

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12. Use video calling wherever you could normally make a call. Communicating with others using chat tools such as Zoom, FaceTime or Skype will help you stay connected in a much more personal way. Video calling is also much more uplifting  compared to phone calls.

13. Block social media during working hours on your work computer. There are many tools to help you remove distractions by blocking certain apps or websites. Try out the WorkMode Google Chrome extension which, when activated, auto-blocks ALL social media, custom URLs and keywords from even appearing!

14. Be self-disciplined with your mobile phone as this can also be a major distraction. Try removing your mobile phone completely from your desk; if you can’t manage this at least make sure it is on silent and screen down to avoid messages or notifications.

15. When your working day has come to an end switch off your computer and put your work mobile away, so you are not tempted to ‘tune’ back in. You need to keep a clear separation between work and home life.

16. Educate your friends and family. Just because you are now working from home does not mean you are available, and they may not quite understand this. Be firm with them, stay consistent and maintain your boundaries so you are not interrupted every 5 minutes.

17. Keep your workplace neat and tidy. As they say, an untidy desk leads to an untidy mind!

18. Set yourself mini goals throughout the day. Once it is complete you could perhaps treat yourself to a coffee or 5 minutes of social media time.

19. Drink plenty of water to help with concentration. It can be difficult to remember this whilst busy working so there are plenty of reminder apps (Drink Water Reminder N Tracker, Water Reminder) out there to assist you.

20. If there is a TV in the room you are working in try turning it off at the wall. This way you must purposefully make the decision to turn it back on, giving you enough time to pause for thought.

21. Stay in touch with family and friends to prevent feeling isolated whilst working from home. However still don’t be tempted to answer the phone whilst you are working!

22. Do not work in your kitchen. Avoid the fridge at all costs, it is not your friend! Try to keep your lunches similar to those you’d have on a normal working day and resist snacking. Snacking is as bad for your waistline as crumbs and sticky fingers are for your keyboard.

23. Cook from scratch where ingredients allow. As you are no longer commuting to your place of work you can use this saved time in the kitchen. Cooking from scratch is healthier and therapeutic, whilst also cheaper, and your supplies will last longer.

24. If you’re finding a task particularly heavy going, don’t try to complete it all in one go if the deadline allows.

25. Don’t sit by a window with an interesting view; it is far too easy to waste time watching the world go by.

26. Try to make time for hobbies you can do at home or in your garden. Whilst we are being told to stay indoors it’s important for your mental well-being to do things you still enjoy and keep you calm.