Top tips for working from home during lockdown - How to Stay Productive

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Top tips for working from home during lockdown (Plus How to Stay Productive)

Growth

So many of us have been working from home for nearly a year now so I figure it’s time to reflect on that. Of course, everybody might have different ideas about working from home now that they’ve experienced it long-term, so I’d love to explore this topic further. 

Working from home used to be such a treat! Sleeping in longer, control over your day-to-day schedule, working in pyjamas and no one would know. It was such a luxury! However, there are some downsides, in that before you could leave work but now because your home is your work, you really can never leave.

The work/home boundary lines have become blurred.

For me, because I used to shoot globally around the world (10-12 times a year!), this topic really resonates with me. I mean, I now have an online business that helps other creators who have gone from global trotting or office environments to working from home!

But my experience of shifting to a full-time work-from-home atmosphere was very different because being a freelancer and business owner, I was used to not having a routine. I always had to create one for myself so I would stay on track. 

My Experience Shifting to Working From Home

Travelling globally for work, I often didn’t know where I was going to be working, when I was going to be there, and for how long. So for me, it was particularly important for my well-being to always have a routine when I was at home. I would get up in the morning, get ready for work, get dressed well (wearing nice colours so I felt good!), and stick to a 9-5 routine. 

When COVID happened, I started my online business, and with that my 9-5 turned into 5am-7:30/8:30pm!  I felt I had to learn a load of new techniques and strategies to build my online business and I didn’t have that usual break where I got out of my environment to go to work.

Because I wasn’t going out, I felt I had to take/make up for that time and work more at home, to the point where my vision started to get blurry. 

I remember calling the optometrist they asked how long I was sat at my computer for work. When I answered 15-16 hours a day, they were shocked!  They insisted that I start putting breaks into my routine.

This was difficult, I wasn’t used to sitting at home and consciously thinking about the need to take 10 minutes every hour or have a 30-minute lunch. I just continuously worked away. 

Throughout lockdown there was this idea if you weren’t sitting at your computer, then you weren’t working, and with the idea of not working came the worry and anxiety. It was catch twenty-two, needed some time off but had this incessant need to keep working because you were always in your workspace.

That physical and mental boundary was gone. 

Lack of Trust with Working From Home

Before Covid, there was almost a lack of trust, for having people work from home. You’d almost have to work harder when working from home to prove yourself because it was seen as a luxury. This helps explain why many of us had boundary issues when we started working from home all the time.

It’s human nature to feel like you have to do more because you feel like working from home used to be a treat. When we go through school and university, we are almost brainwashed to think that we have to work this regimented time and do this regimented work, so if we’re not doing that, then we’re not working.

However, the pandemic has somewhat changed that.

I do feel that now big companies understand that to get the best out of your workers they have to have some sense of well-being as well. And what I realise from working from home is it gives you the opportunity to think about what you want to do, what you want to achieve and who you want to be at the same time.

You’re in your own environment, you’re creating your own routine and, in a sense, you’ve become your own boss.

You must self-regulate yourself and be more self-aware about how you’re going to navigate your work-life home-life environment. It makes you think differently about where you want to go in the future. 

Having Time to Change Your Direction

For myself, I realized that even though I travelled for work as a photographer and director, when I had the time to stop travelling and take that break, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.

Was there something more that I could offer?
Were there things that I could learn while I was at home to change my direction and path?
Did I really like the environment I was in when I was working consistently? 

And so, I went back to university to do my Masters in Positive Psychology and Psychology Coaching because I realized that this was a passion of mine that I had never had the time to pursue. 

This time gave me the opportunity to break through from that regimented working environment where I was on that hamster wheel working for money. It gave me the ability to change my direction and my viewpoint and realise that I wanted to focus more on my well-being as well as other people’s wellbeing. 

The sense of putting time into your routine for breaks and thinking about PPIs (Positive Psychology Interventions), such as going for a drive, a 30-minute walk and listening to the bird’s song, or sitting in a park or woods. Just getting in some green environment.

Some people like to do yoga or breathwork meditation and other people like to do 30 minutes of journaling so they can get out their thoughts and ideas. These are just a few things you can add to your routine, to get back that sense of balance.

When working from home, it’s so imperative that you become more self-aware of who you are and what your needs are for you to be able to move forward and flourish.

Having that anxiety about coming back into the working environment

For me and other creators in my industry, there was this anxiety about “oh my god everything’s going to open up”. It was as if we weren’t ready for it yet! 

Most of us are quite comfortable working from home now. We’ve gotten used to it.  We see our partners and family, we get to do what we want, we’ve regimented our working hours. For me, I’ve self-regulated, and I’m more self-aware. 

What was it that I’d gotten anxious about? 
Was it that I was going to jump back on that hamster wheel and forget my goals, ambitions, meaning and purpose? 
Was it that I didn’t know what to expect (because we all fear the unknown)? 

But then I realized, what time has given me, and what it can give many others, is the strength to understand that you can go on and you do have control of your life. You can make well-tuned decisions about where you want to go in the future. 

There’s nothing to fear, you just need to understand who it is that you want to be and where you want to go.

Who do you want to be?

Where you want to go?

What if I’m working from home forever? And what if I want to?

We need change and we need to develop and adapt. If we continue the way we have been over the last century, how do we achieve better greatness and understanding of who we are as a species? 

In a sense, this challenging time has given us the opportunity to move forward and adapt the way we work and the way we live our lives. Some for the better, some for the worse, but at least it’s given us that something to consider for the future. That’s what’s quite interesting.

Building an online business is something a lot of people consider an achievable option. If anyone has to go back to that office environment, and they don’t want to, they now have the opportunity to create a business for themselves. We’ve all been made more aware that there is another way to make a living.

Building an online business.

It’s been an experience and a journey, it’s been difficult building this online business, but I’ve had that opportunity because we’ve been in lockdown to focus on it. And now I’m seeing success from all that hard work!

If you’re going back to an office environment and you want to do something different, you now can learn new skills and get yourself out of that environment if you feel it’s not for you anymore.

Have you become more introverted?

Many people have noticed that they’re more introverted than they thought! Being in lockdown and isolated for weeks, months on end can emphasise the want and need to stay in, but social relationships are important, who doesn’t miss the team or office banter. One of the great benefits of my job as a photographer is working with a variety of teams across the globe and creating positive environments.

I’m lucky that I get to work with people I know are supportive and will have my back. This is important when you’re shooting fast-paced campaigns, and you’ve got to organise and inspire your team, the clients and the people you’re photographing especially when it is the first time many people have left their house.

I would consider myself an extroverted person, but I do love to have that “me” time. It’s important to know that you can be both! You can be introverted and have that “me” time because you need to re-develop and re-energize

This is especially true if you give a lot to yourself when you’re in your working environment. When you’re networking, meeting people and talking, you have to be high energy. It’s so important that you can come away and re-energize yourself for the next time that you go out.

Social interactions are 100% something we need as a society to survive; just be sure you’re energising yourself with rest afterwards if you feel you need it.

What About Virtual Networking?

You can still have this type of interaction virtually though! You can make your virtual meeting a little party. It’s about bringing your energy to it and bringing your personality to the screen.

Though many people can find this quite daunting! We’re not used to having cameras stuck in our faces and having to express ourselves that way. We’ve gotten used to it though it’s still always nice to see people face to face and have a cup of coffee!

It’s all about balance.

Integrating the parts we like about both sides. Integrating the online world with our past, more in-person life. Maybe you work virtually, but you hang out with friends and family after work or on the weekends in person.

Take what you like best about these two worlds and create the life that you want to lead.

And that suits you best.

My Key Takeaways on Working From Home

Working and living in the same space can be a lot. You don’t get to go to a different space to work and then a different space to sleep or live. So, it’s important to keep your mindset healthy to flourish in this environment. 

Here are my key takeaways that you should keep in mind:

  • Make sure you have a routine, starting in the morning. A routine that not only gets you doing the job that you want to do, but also a routine that looks after your well-being at the same time. Getting ready, wearing clothes that make you feel good.
  • Prioritise having a scheduled lunch break as well as 10-15 minute breaks if you’re working at your computer for an hour or more.
  • Take that PPI (Positive Psychology Intervention) where you can go out if you’re near green space and take 30 minutes to walk around (whether it’s first thing in the morning, on your lunch break or after work). 

Keeping these things in mind helps you make sure that you’re self-regulating yourself and being self-aware about your needs.

Making sure that throughout your workweek you’re managing your time to prioritise looking after yourself will benefit your productivity, health and prevent burnout.

I’d love to hear about your experience with working from home over the past year.

Share it with me in the comments! 

jerri jarmeh

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