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Helpful Tips on Staying Healthy and Focused When Working From Home

Posted by Richard Forster on 8 December 2020

In conversations with friends and family it seems apparent that whilst working from home may seem idyllic, the reality is somewhat different. Like most things, there are definite pros and cons. On the positive side there is no time spent stuck in traffic or commuting on trams and trains, no office politics or interruptions by colleagues when face-to-face. On the negative side there may be issues with IT and working in isolation.

Structure is key. You can take responsibility for setting up and adapting your personal workspace, your daily/ weekly schedule and setting boundaries to create a healthy work-life balance.
The following are a few tips that may help.

Create a dedicated workspace
Take the time to make your space work and ensure it works for you. It is unlikely to be the same as your normal place of work so you can take a fresh perspective. Be mindful of others who may be working from home and home activities that may impact upon what you are doing. Personalise your workspace with things that are likely to make you happy and productive. You workspace should be safe and healthy. Remember that OHS/WHS laws still apply so far as is reasonably practicable. For example, you should have access to an ergonomic desk and chair. Your manager can advise accordingly. There is guidance on working from home from your OHS/WHS regulator. Productivity may depend on having the basics such as  sufficient lighting, a stable internet connection with access to IT support, as well as timely access to work documents.

Plan and set your work hours
Flexibility and balance are key here. Consider how you are to maintain boundaries and be transparent with your colleagues. Establish your working hours around your organisation's structure for things like online management and team meetings, delivering reports, as well as close of business and end of month activities.  Schedule in your lunch and other breaks and eat healthy foods. You may have to consider blocking off time for dropping off and picking up the kids from school, home deliveries and maintenance visits.  Being flexible allows you to respond to the unexpected and increase resilience.

Dress to impress (yourself)
It may be tempting to stay in pyjamas but you can set the professionalism bar early by taking a shower (one article I read suggested a cold shower but each to their own) then dressing appropriately. Maybe imagine that the boss or a client wants to hold a Zoom meeting at short notice, how presentable would you look? If you look good you will feel good and be more productive.

Do not disturb
Remind your family and friends when you are working from home to prevent unannounced visits and limit phone calls. Make arrangements with family members who are at home to ensure minimal disruption.

Stay organised
Maintain your focus and prioritise on what needs to get done. Leave household chores until later. If circumstances require you to schedule some time in your day to run some important personal errands or have a medical consultation, that is ok. Try not to get into a habit of repeatedly jumping back and forth between work tasks and home or health related tasks. Life can become complicated if you are overloaded, rush or get distracted. If necessary, discuss what is happening with a manager for clarity.
Stay in touch
Keep in contact by speaking with your manger and team members on a regular basis. Be aware of what is happening and what the expectations are around what you are doing. A phone chat or Skype call may serve better than yet more emails.

Stay healthy, get some exercise - go for a walk
Take regular breaks if you are sitting at a computer workstation. Fresh air, vitamin D and a good stroll are great for mind and body. It may help you solve a knotty problem too. It is a good idea to weigh yourself regularly so you can notice any changes and respond accordingly. Keep track of how many steps you take in a day if you have an app or device.
Drink plenty of water
Keep yourself sufficiently hydrated, have a water bottle on your desk and sip it throughout the day.

Remember to finish - stop working when the workday is done!
Work-life balance is very important. The key word here is balance. If you make yourself available all hours of the day, every day, then some people may never leave you alone; your work-life balance will be non-existent. It is vital that there is closure and you can shut off when your workday is finished.
Reflect and review
Periodically, look at what you are doing and how you are doing it with a critical eye. See what works and what can be improved upon. Take advice from trusted persons and make it your personal business to try new things.
Author:Richard Forster


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