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Vital Tips For Working from Home
We’re all adjusting to a ‘new normal’ during the COVID19 lock-down and for those of us working from home while also having to juggle the needs of children, it can be a particularly tricky time.
Whilst working remotely has its benefits, such as a temporary pause of the inevitably frantic morning scramble of all working parents, it comes with the challenge of balancing work responsibilities with keeping kids occupied or home schooled and the four-legged family member’s need for a walk.
So, here are my top work from home tips for ticking all the right boxes and keeping your stress levels and sanity in check:
Stick to your usual routine and set the rules
Though it may be tempting to stay in your pajamas until your first Skype or Zoom team meeting, wake up at the time you usually would, get dressed and get the kids up and ready too.
Establish a consistent routine that everyone works to. This includes a daily schedule of activities, schoolwork, outdoor, meal and TV/screen time. With that in place, everyone can go about their day with some structure – even though despite best intentions, it won’t always go to plan!
Create a dedicated workstation
Be organized and you’ll feel organized.
Create a space where you can set yourself up with all that you need to be productive and one that is preferably away from main living areas which will be a distraction (and increase the chance of your kids bombing your next video conference call).
Set up your home office if you haven’t done so already. Make sure it is a comfortable and efficient workstation so you enjoy working from it, otherwise you will start to detest it and avoid doing the work.
When you are working from home during a lock-down period as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to have your desk space set up correctly just as you would do at the office. Health issues like Occupational Overuse Syndrome and Repetitive Strain Injury aren’t just a mouthful to say, they can cause serious harm and put you out of action.
The good news is, with a workstation that’s set up properly, you can reduce the risk of these issues from developing. So where do you start?
- Get the height right
If you have a seated workstation, there are three things you need to get right when it comes to height: your chair, your desk and your monitor.
Your Chair – Have you ever really thought about how you sit in a chair? Here’s how it should look: your feet should be flat on the floor with your thighs angled down slightly. Raise or lower your chair to get this right.
Your Desk -Rest your hands on your desk; do your forearms and wrists angle down slightly? That’s the correct posture to help prevent OOS-type injuries. To get this right, you may need to try desk raisers or a foot rest and raise your chair height.
Your Monitor – Look to your monitor, the top of your screen should be just about horizontal with your eyes and about an arm’s length away from you.
2 Get the right gear
Consider using an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. They can help improve the posture of your hands and wrists, encouraging them into a more natural position.
3 Get away from the desk
It’s important to take regular breaks. Stretch and change your posture from time to time. Make sure you step away from your desk once or twice an hour to walk to the kitchen, outside or to the other end of the home or office. Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to take regular breaks.
A few final tips for setting up your workstation
- Eliminate glare on your monitor by adjusting the lights or using blinds
- An anti-glare filter can ease stress on the eyes
- A copy-holder is a great idea if you need to refer to documents while typing
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
Get comfy, we all work for a good chunk of our lives, so we may as well feel good when we’re there!
4 Working from home – be organized
Here are a couple of pointers to keep your work day going…
- Start your day with something that isn’t work related, stand up, stretch before you get started
- Structure your day, like you would in the office. Know when you’ll take breaks and have lunch and when it will end
- To stay healthy, keep your work space clean and sanitize the area with disinfected wipes
- Working remotely can be lonely, set up a 10min online catch up with others from the office
- If you are lucky enough to have a separate room for your home-office set-up, shut the door to eliminate distractions.
Get a space sorted for the kids too, where all their activities, toys and school needs are set up. They then have everything they need to stay occupied in one place, limiting the regular requests to haul out that special coloring book or look for a game they’re unable to find. The bonus of a dedicated space is it goes some way in stopping the house looking like a complete disaster zone by the end of the day.
As challenging as it can be some days, make time to assist with your child’s home-schooling tasks. Understand what is expected of them and figure out how that can be achieved based on what’s going to work best for you, your child and family routine.
Don’t be hard on yourself! There’s no right or wrong way.
Mix it up
Possibly the single most challenging thing for parents working from home, is the fraught negotiation around screen time and keeping kids off devices all day.
Pick out a range of age appropriate activities like arts and crafts, puzzles, board games and Lego to keep them busy. If you must give in to the iPad for some limited time, there are a range of excellent online sites which combine activity and learning such as Disney Family, Mathletics or National Geographic Kids.
Encourage your kids to help out around the house and contribute to chores like tidying their rooms, feeding the pets, packing away toys and activities and clearing the table after meals. A reward scheme or the promise of additional pocket money will work wonders!
Take a break
Build in break times with your kids where you can just take a short time out do something together, like have lunch or simply talk. It’s a good opportunity to check in on how they are doing – and for you to step away from your inbox and pinging phone.
Shake off cabin fever and get out if your pandemic regulations allow this. Try and do something active each day. If the weather allows, get outdoors with the kids and go for a bike ride or walk in your neighborhood. It’s a great way to draw a breath, clear your head and get the kids moving too.
Stay connected – to others and yourself
At a time when we are interacting more remotely and terms like social distancing and isolation is now commonplace, it’s easy to feel disconnected.
Your kids will be feeling that too, being isolated from their friends and classmates.
An important part of easing the stress of adjusting to the new way we are living and working – and the juggle of it all – is to stay connected.
Make time to keep in touch with extended family and friends through video calls using Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Zoom.
Set up the kids to do the same with their friends.
Finally, find a moment for yourself and do something you enjoy and that will help you relax, refocus and reset.