Over the past ten months many of us have been working from home full time. Therefore we are spending more time in our own homes. Whilst I am looking forward to seeing people in person again and catching up over coffee or lunch, I think that there is so much to enjoy about spending more of our days at home.
Several years ago I submitted an application to make working from home my norm, but this was turned down by my organisation. Now all of a sudden we have all become home workers. My positive views are probably also reflective of the fact that I don’t have children. This is particularly difficult now when parents are having to home school, often alongside working full-time from home.
If though you don’t have kids or they’re old enough to get on with their school work without too much input from you, then I would really encourage you to consider how you can make the most of this period. How many times in the past have you used the excuse of not having enough time as a reason not to exercise or to justify all those takeaways? Now there are no excuses! Imagine you had a time machine and could jump forward six months or a year. What would that you want you to have done during this time? I’m sure it’s not sit on the couch more and eat lots of cake!
how do you spend your time?
I would suggest sitting down and thinking about your average day. What time do you get up? When do you start work? How long do you take for a lunch break? How many hours are there between when you usually finish work and when you go to bed? If you aren’t really sure where all of that time goes, and remember there are 168 hours in a week, try tracking your time for a week. Break the day up into 15 or 30 minute slots and note what you spent most of your time doing in each slot. You can find some more ideas and tracking sheets here on Laura Vanderkam’s site.
Once you have an idea of how you fill your 168 hours have a think about what your ideal week or day would look like. Then start to make some changes. You don’t have to do it all at once. I don’t expect you to leap out of bed at 5am, jog ten miles, meditate, journal and read a good book, and then cook a three courses gourmet meal in the evening all on the first day. In fact, none of these may be how you want to spend your time. The idea is to intentionally use the extra time that you now have, rather than while away your day scrolling your Twitter feed.
Here are some suggestions for activities to include in your day when you are working from home:
This is an area that I’ve written about before, but I so enjoy my time before work. Prior to lockdown it’s likely that some part of your day was taken up by travelling to and from your place of work. Many people used to spend a couple of hours or more commuting. Now you can fill that time with something that you enjoy as your commute just involves sitting down at your desk and turning on your computer.
If this is an area you want to work on you might want to check out Hal Elrod’s book and/or website ‘The Miracle Morning’. He recommends six personal development practices which he suggests that you undertake every day. These are silence i.e. meditation, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading and scribing i.e. writing/journaling. You can also see what Natalie Bacon says about routines. For myself, I just practise the silence, exercise and writing. I used to read, but I tend to do that before bed now.
In order to start the working day I always make myself a cup of coffee. Up until the end of 2020 was listening to Laura Vanderkam’s very short daily podcast – The New Corner Office. Since the beginning of this month I now listen to the Before Breakfast Podcast, also by Laura. Previously I didn’t always take a lunch break, but now I take at least an hour.
Keeping on top of household chores
Another benefit of working from home is that I can do chores in my breaks. I usually put a load of laundry on before I start work. By coffee time the machine has finished and it’s ready to be hung up.
With more time at the end of the day as there’s no journey home I can do some housework. Whilst I know that this isn’t the most exciting thing to do, by spending a little time each day keeping the house clean it helps to free up my time on the weekend. By the time Saturday and Sunday come around I don’t feel that all of my free time is being taken up by getting on top of the housework again. I can actually spend some time doing things that I enjoy instead.
I know not everyone likes to exercise first thing. An alternative is to take a longer lunch break and get outside for a walk. At this time of year, when it’s usually dark before and after work, we need to make the most of the daylight hours. Occasionally I can kill two birds with one stone by walking into town in my lunch break to do some shopping or collect some books from the library.
Change your working practices
As for work itself, whilst others complain about the virtual nature of our work I am enjoying the ability to be in several places every day without actually going anywhere. I can fit more into my day. As I log off from one call I can immediately join another. Previously this might have involved a 50-mile journey along the motorway.
As I have said before, I am a social worker, working with families. Although I am not meeting anyone in person at the moment there are benefits to virtual working. One is that I can have shorter, more frequent meetings with clients. People who previously I may have only met on two occasions I am now seeing three, four or even more times. This makes me feel that I know them even better than before.
I have also taken the opportunity to do some preparation for dinner whilst listening to training courses or attending team meetings. Chopping veg and cooking doesn’t take much brain power so I find that I am able to concentrate on what’s being said at the same time.
So there we are, a few ideas for you. If it all seems too much effort just think about that future you. Looking back you’ll always wish you had done the hard thing and I know you can. A slimmer, healthier, more organised and hopefully happier you might just emerge from this period of enforced seclusion.