Working from home: Tips and advice for staying productive and focused working away from the office

12 March 2020, 13:22 | Updated: 12 March 2020, 13:24

Working from home can be really rewarding - but you need to be disciplined
Working from home can be really rewarding - but you need to be disciplined. Picture: Getty

The coronavirus crisis has seen thousands of people instructed to work from home - and it can be a daunting change for some people.

If you're one of the many Brits currently working from home as businesses and companies do their bit to stop the spread of coronavirus, you might be finding the whole situation overwhelming.

The idea of working from home is sometimes better than the reality. Ultimately you still need to get your work done - and it's up to you to motivate yourself and keep yourself accountable.

These are useful tips to help you get in to the swing of working from home, and staying focused and productive.

Keep a routine, get out of bed, get dressed

You might be saving hours a day in commuting time, but don't fool yourself in to thinking you can roll out of bed five minutes before you're due to start working.

If you usually need a good hour to wake up and get in to work mode, you still will.

Similarly, treat your time WFH as if you were still at work. Don't sit in bed all day with your laptop on a pillow, get up and get dressed.

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You don't need to wear office clothes, but some people think putting on a reasonably smart (but comfortable) outfit and a doing your hair or make-up can get you in to the right mentality to work.

If your job involves video calls, or conference calls, it is also important to look professional.

Choosing where you will work in your house is also important. Choose somewhere quiet with good lighting, and make sure that you have a comfortable chair that offers plenty of support.

Choose a good place in your home to act as your temporary office
Choose a good place in your home to act as your temporary office. Picture: Getty

Take a break for lunch

Self-discipline is the most important tool for working from home (as well as a good internet connection!) This means making sure you don't work solidly for eight hours and schedule in a break.

Just like you were in the office, you need to take some time away from your desk to have lunch and a bit of downtime.

Get outside and exercise

Many people who work from home say it is imperative that you get outside at some point during the day to enjoy some fresh air, and to stretch your legs.

If you live near a gym, why not try and squeeze in a class? Or go for a jog or brisk walk around a local park?

However, if you are under quarantine because of coronavirus concerns, you will need to find an alternative way to exercise - why not check YouTube for free workout videos?

Another alternative is to do some meditation or yoga at home to relax you and break up the day.

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Set timers

Procrastinating is a common problem for people working from home. It's easy to be distracted when there are other bits and bobs to do, or kids, pets and partners asking for your attention.

Try setting timers on your phone to ring fence periods of time that you work on a single task, e.g. replying to emails, working on a presentation.

You can also use it to designate a short window of time you will allow yourself to check social media, which can be an incentive to get a boring job out of the way.

Make a to-do list

If you start the day by taking a few minutes to write down a list of everything that needs to be done that day you will find it easier to stay focused.

Seeing things down on paper will also let you choose what needs to be done as a priority. Some people like to put the biggest jobs at the top, or the most boring tasks at the top of the list.

Don't isolate yourself

Just because you aren't with your colleagues doesn't mean you can't check in with them. Arrange a 10 minute window or two throughout the working day where you can check in over Skype or another video call platform for a natter and a laugh.

You will all benefit from the interaction, and it will give you something to look forward to during the day.