COVID 19 has many of us now working from home or in an isolated place. It’s all new and exciting right now, but in a few days, it will start to grate. As someone that has worked from home or a very small office environment for a number of years, it seemed time to share a few thoughts.
Firstly, you have to actively take breaks. At first you will have the feeling of satisfaction of getting so much done! Or the time has just flown. I didn’t realise I had been going that long. Sound familiar?
Let’s set a scenario. In an office environment, there will always be someone coming or going, a phone rigging, or a colleague asking you a question. Can you picture this? What do you do in these situations, unconsciously? You look away from your workspace. You have a “break”. It can be a quick glimpse or you stop and have a conversation with someone. Does this happen in your home office environment? Have you threatened your kids with a punishment if they disturb you because you are working from home? Or yelled at your dog for nudging you at your desk “… I’m working! Go away!”.
Can I be as bold to say, the dog or the kids are actually doing you a favour. They are replicating the disruptive office environment you are most likely used to having every day. Just in case you don’t have these “office simulators”, and even if you do, a tip is to program 10 minutes activity breaks in your calendar. Or if you have a smart wearable device, turn on the movement prompts. The key is to take notice of the calendar or device prompt. Have a break. Reset and refresh.
The other thing that catches most out, is dry eyes. Have a chat to any optometrist and they will tell you that most people tend to less frequent blinking when using computers. The outcome is your eyes dry out. They feel scratchy and itchy. This too is an issue with not having the normal office distractions and the unconscious breaks. Unconsciously, when we look away from the screen we tend to blink. This lubricates the eye and stops the scratchy and itch eyes.
Now one thing to avoid, is the break and have a brew. Try and stick to your normal routine of tea and or coffee. It is amazingly easy to have a break and make a cup of your favourite brew. Seems a bit innocuous doesn’t it. But at the end of the day, instead of your normal 3 cups a day, it is 7! It will until at 1:25am you are staring at the ceiling wondering why you can’t get back to sleep! Have a water. It will refresh you.
And one last tip. When you finish work in a normal situation, you have a routine. You probably don’t recognise it, but chances are you will do almost exactly the same things each day when you shut down your computer and put things in their place on your desk. And then there is the ritual of your commute home. Are you on the train reading a novel or the news or doing some other activity? What you are doing is decompressing. Releasing the stresses of the day. Resetting, switching off. It is critical that you do a switch off routine now more than ever. Don’t fall into the trap of “I’ll just look at that small thing” and duck back to your computer after you have stopped work for the day. A colleague had a routine that when he got to a certain corner on the way home, that was it. Work was done. A famous football coach had the routine of turning off the mobile once he walked through the front door. Find you own Stop routine for working from home and sick to it!