For anyone working at home, out of choice, or through enforced furloughs, or lay-offs, even if you have decided to start a new business, being based at home brings a whole new set of stresses and problems.

            There is a whole new group of people to deal with.  As opposed to your co-workers with the same work-time interests as you do, working at home means that you may have children or partners around, and they have entirely different sets of priorities. 

The change may mean some radical lifestyle changes for all of you.  Psychologists argue that men and women view working at home differently, too, which can cause extra stress.

            Change is something we all find challenging, yet oddly we don’t tend to be very forgiving of ourselves for struggling with it.  It scares us.   And suddenly we have a huge amount of change.

            Practical changes to working at home all start well.  We are used to rising to challenges, making lists, and sorting out problems.   But while we may have leaped to clearing a space to work from, not everyone has the luxury of a separate room. 

You may find yourself attempting to work in amongst the family.  The garden shed, if you have one, suddenly holds immense appeal.  Without a separate space, it is also tough to separate work and home time adding to blurred lines.

            A few days into working at home, getting dressed is happening later and later. That leads to a further lack of mental separation.  While at first, it might seem like a luxury, it quickly acts as a de-motivator instead.

            Achievement levels can quickly drop.   When we are at work with others, there will be a structure.  There will be an awareness of your boss and their expectations and timescales.   When you are working at home, goals become things you will do at some point.

           Then there are the interruptions.  The amount the doorbell goes, from the window cleaner, the postman, delivery men.   That is without the stream of friends who happily whats app you or call you up for a chat “as you are at home.” 

          But as we have seen with self-isolation, one of the biggest problems of working from home is the cultural aspect.  This lack of social interaction can so easily lead to mental health problems. 

Even before COVID-19, nearly half of freelancers said they were lonely and isolated. Now we have anxiety over job losses, unreliable income, strained relationships, lack of ability to get the work done, and health.

Working at home good practices

Working at home – how it should be – Photo by Allie on Unsplash

            A new routine is absolutely key to achievement but also for taking down the stress levels.  If you know precisely what you are supposed to be doing, there should be no panicky, stare at the wall moments. 

Instead of meaning to get things done, do “more” exercise or “work hard,” use S.M.A.R.T goals.  Set out what you would like to achieve overall, in the next month to meet them, and break them down into daily targets. 

            If you have little or no work on, think of all those things you have always said: “one day I want to learn.”  Now is your time.  Find an online course and build it into your goals.  Make a schedule for all the jobs round the house you have meant to do.

Exercise is vital for physical and mental health. There are plenty of great home work-outs to follow online so you can maintain or achieve your fitness levels. 

            Make your work-space as separate as you possibly can from the rest of your living space.  Even if it is just one small table, set it up in a way that appeals to you and don’t use it for anything else. 

            Limit your time watching the news, especially curbing the inclination to check it all the time on the net while you are working.  Not only might it increase your anxiety, but it will also break your concentration.  It takes a good twenty minutes to retrieve focus when you stop.

            Balance having time on your own and time with friends and family.   If the whole family is at home, arrange one block of time for both you and your partner where you can just chill, have me-time, and be undisturbed. 

            When you are working at home, even if you haven’t been big on affirmations and gratitude before, try starting your day differently.  Say thank you out loud what good things are happening (big or small, the fact you are alive, or a flower you can see from the window, the friend you spoke to last night) and at the same time commit out loud to the three things you will get done that day.  And look forward to them. 

          And well all else fails, don’t forget humor – trust Bored Panda to see the funny side

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