How to stay focused and sane when working from home

April 7, 2020By Paula ElliottInsights

I’ve never been a fan of home working, preferring to be in the hustle and bustle of the office, up in London or at one of my clients’ sites and I like working as part of a team.  After all I am in PR (darling), so we do need to bounce ideas off each other, brainstorm and be creative.   Here at C8 we are also real team players, so we do enjoy the dialogue, the banter, the shared conversations and interacting with each other.  But I never realised just how much I relish working with other human beings until I started to self-isolate and work from home.

So as a large part of the world’s population is confined to home working owing to COVID-19, I thought I would share with you some tips and learnings that I’ve picked up over the past three weeks that have helped me settle into my ‘new normal’ working environment, and that have kept me on track and sane.

Have a routine

Very early on I created a routine that meant I had structure to my day.  I also found that it can be helpful to establish some mental distance between my home and my work routine.  Don’t let the two blend into each other, even though I’m in the same building day and night – I make a definite distinction between these.

Get out for some fresh air

It is really important that you get up and walk around, get outside into the garden, or heed Boris’ advice and go for a short walk or even just go up and down the stairs to just give yourself a boost of energy and reinvigorate those creative juices.   Movement helps to clear your mind and it also gives you a bit of perspective.  It is all too easy to end up sitting in front of your laptop for the best part of the day.  Move around and shake yourself up a bit.

Dress for work

It can be easy to get out of the office mindset when you are working from home. If you’re finding it hard to concentrate, put your work clothes on. It’s amazing how this small physical cue can get you into the work mindset and can give you a sense of professionalism and direction.

Work to your strengths

As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to end up working all the hours under the sun, when you are at home.   So, make sure you create a work pattern that is right for you.   You are in control, so create the right environment and work the hours when you know you will be at your best.  Of course, there will be zoom calls and virtual meetings to attend but outside of that create your own working day.  Anyone who knows me, knows I’m an early starter – I like to start early and finish early – I have found this structure works best for me.

Stay in regular contact with your team

Here at C8 we’ve set up a WhatsApp group and we also have a weekly virtual staff meeting on a Monday morning.  We share our priorities for the week with everyone so that we all know what we are working on.  We also have regular team and client calls throughout the week.  This helps to create that camaraderie and to keep us motivated, in touch and energised.

Turn your camera on

Whilst I’m not a fan of video on Zoom and cameras on other collaboration tools, I have found that I prefer talking to someone when I can see them.  So gradually over the past three weeks, I’ve started to turn my video on, on the premise that others might like to see me as well.

Turn off notifications when you need to focus

for some reason, app notifications are much more distracting when you’re working from home – perhaps it’s the lack of external stimulation, but every bing and buzz seems to demand my attention. But in the current intensive news cycle, constant updates can add to anxiety and distraction. If you need to focus on a task, use tools like focus assist to stop your flow being interrupted, and if, for example, I’m writing, I often put my phone in another room.

Who knows how long this lockdown will continue, certainly until the end of April?  So, try and make sure that whatever you do, you have a long-term solution in place to help aid your home working and to keep you on track and enthused.

And of course, I’ve saved my top tip to last – above all make sure that it is milk and not gin that you are pouring on your cornflakes first thing in the morning!  That’s when you know you are on the slippery slope downhill.

For more information about how C8 Consulting can help to create compelling campaigns and kick-start conversations for your business in 2020, contact us.