Everyone’s life has been turned upside down recently and we’re all trying to adjust to our new normal. Whether that’s having the children at home rather than at school/nursery, staying in contact with friends/family when we’re not able to see each other face to face, being more creative with food to avoid going to the shops too regularly or working from home (for those of us who aren’t key workers).
There are a number of things that we’re trying to get our heads around and are trying to find the best ways to do them for us as a family. However, one thing we already have lots of experience of doing is working from home. Since we set up our business 2 years ago, our ways of working from home have evolved and we now feel like we’ve got a set-up that really works for us. Because our business is still so new, we haven’t felt able to invest in wrap-around care so we also work around our children being at home from 3.15 each day. So, we thought we should share our top tips, given there are millions of you out there doing the same for the first time at the moment.
Create a dedicated work space
Although many successful businesses started their journey as kitchen table start-ups, it’s not a working set-up that’s sustainable. Getting laptops, paperwork and anything else you need on and off the table each time you need to use it to eat becomes a real chore.
If possible, it’s better to create a dedicated place to work within your home. An ideal way to do it would be to have a separate room, dedicated for working. This doesn’t have to be your traditional study, but it could be a desk in a spare bedroom that isn’t currently inhabited due to the lockdown.
If you don’t have the luxury of a separate room, then having a dedicated space elsewhere is key. Do you have a large landing space that could fit a desk? Can you fit a desk in a living area that has some privacy or quiet from the rest of the household? Or do you have the space for an office in a cupboard? This one from Russell and Jordan at 2LG Studio shows that it doesn’t need to be an eyesore, it can really add a bit of oomph to the rest of your décor.
Image Credit: 2LG Studio
If, like many households you’ve got more than one person working at home then you’ll to think carefully about whether you can both work in same vicinity. If you need more than one dedicated space for work then think about whether you’ve already got pieces of furniture that could work as makeshift desks. This could be dressing tables or sideboards, basically anything that allows you to sit at it comfortably.
Have dedicated working time
It’s easy for work and life to become blurred when you work at home. This is particularly true when you work for yourself as we do. The best way for achieving a balance is to have dedicated work times and non-work times. This is particularly complex for so many parents who are trying to work at home whilst the schools are closed at the moment.
We’ve tried to tag team as much as possible. So, one of us is with the children while the other works. Then we swap over. This could be swapping once or more a day or having a day on childcare and the next off. This will really depend on the type of work you do and how ‘on-call’ you need to be but if you can have some distinction between work and non-work time it will help you to feel like you’re doing them both some justice. For us, that often means working early and late, rather than the traditional office hours. If that’s feasible then think about doing that if you’ve got children at home.
And if you end up working from home more after this lock down situation, this will still be an important thing to keep up. There are millions of distractions when you work from home: laundry, washing up, general cleaning and tidying. We tend to have short breaks throughout the day to make a cup of tea. While the kettle is boiling you can then complete one chore such as loading/unloading the dishwasher or hanging the laundry. But otherwise it has to be done outside the working day.
Get your glad rags on!
One thing that really makes sure I’m in the mood for working at home is having a shower and putting my ‘work clothes’ on. That doesn’t mean I have to get all dressed up. But just knowing I’ve gotten out of my pyjamas, put on an outfit that isn’t just my slob-out gear with the children means I’m in a better frame of mind and always have a more productive day.
Doing the PE with Joe Wicks workout each morning is affecting my ability to shower and get dressed before the school run (my normal weekday rule!). But the workout is helping my frame of mind, especially in the current climate so I’m bending this rule and trying to squeeze a shower in later on during the morning. But when I do, I’ve been making sure I put on a piece of spring/summer clothing that I haven’t worn since last summer to make me feel uplifted. This has been particularly nice because the weather has been so gorgeous in Leeds this week.
I hope some of these tips will help you cope with being thrown in the deep end of working from home. It’s by no means a comprehensive list but it does give you the benefit of our learning over the last couple of years.
If you are thinking about making changes in your home and need some help or interior design inspiration, do get in touch with us here. And don't forget to follow us via Instagram, Facebook and our upcoming blogs.
Fresh Start Living is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire and covers surrounding areas as well as offering a remote interior design service.