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    Mental Health Courses

5 Steps to Being Productive When Working from Home

Do you find it difficult to transition from home mode into work mode when your commute is bedroom-to-study via Kitchen Central? When you wake in the morning do you, without thought, pick up your phone and check emails? By the time you’ve hopped into the shower, are you already feeling overwhelmed with everything that is on your ‘To Do’ list? Do you quickly make a cuppa and a slice of toast and rattle it down onto your desk as you quickly log into your morning meeting, camera off in the hope you can wolf down the toast before you have to contribute?

If any of this sounds like you, then perhaps you need to re-think your morning routine so that you feel like there is a definite move from your home life to your work. Here are 5 steps that you can take every day to ease yourself into working from home, and create a distinction between your personal time and your working time.

Set an Earlier Alarm

How about setting your alarm 20-30 minutes earlier? I know, I know! Sounds extremely harsh, but do you know what? Having that extra time at the start of your day can make the biggest difference to your mood and how you feel before starting work. I found this out pre-pandemic when I used to have to leave early to travel a distance to wherever I was working that day. Even if I had to be out of the house and on the road by 6 am, I used to set my alarm for half an hour earlier than necessary so that I could come down and sit with my first coffee of the day and just be in the moment instead of on autopilot and had time to gather my thoughts before heading out. That 20-minute coffee set the tone for the rest of my day, whatever was going to be thrown at me.

Take some Time for Yourself

Do something for yourself before work. Would that be a quick walk around the block? Simply just having the kitchen to yourself and organising breakfast before everyone else descends? A run in the quiet of the morning before traffic is busy and not many people are out and about? Especially at this time of year, it feels so good to be walking around the quiet streets in the early morning knowing you are going to feel great afterwards!

Read a Book or Listen to a Podcast

Take some extra time in the morning to read a book (or listen to an audiobook, if that’s your bag) or catch up on a podcast. How often do you get the time to actually read for pleasure or to enhance your professional knowledge? You can bundle this up while out walking or on the treadmill if it helps you to exercise too!

Practice Mindfulness

There are so many benefits to starting your day practising mindfulness. It will help to ground and centre you before the madness of your day starts, it will help you to concentrate and focus on what you need to get done, it will help start your day in relaxed mode instead of your brain becoming fried as you think of everything that needs to be done.

Take Part in a Morning Class

Join in with a yoga/Pilates/exercise class via YouTube. There are hundreds out there so take the time to find one that you would enjoy. Starting your day feeling energised and clear-headed really gives you a mental boost to face your workday and gives you a clear transition from home to work mode without the benefit of a commute.

Ending your Working Day

Similarly, at the end of the working day, it’s very hard to change from professional mode to family mode, especially if you are a working parent. However hard your commute used to be it was a clear marker in the sand that you had left the office, and it was a time to reflect on and process what had happened during your day and then mentally leave work behind ready to re-join your family life.

It’s so easy to work longer hours from home; to leave your home office later, to go back to your work after dinner to ‘just finish that report or send a couple of quick emails’ with the result that you haven’t mentally left work at all. This has an impact on your wellbeing and can lead to burnout.

So, especially with working from home, it’s important that you switch off the phone and power down your laptop and re-engage fully with your family or partner. Again, for example, practising a quick 3-minute breathing space mindfulness exercise can help you re-focus on your family and home life, instead of being stuck in work mode thinking about reports still to write, emails still to send or ruminating about the comments of a work colleague. It’s the perfect exercise to ground yourself in the present before catching the train back to Kitchen Central.

For more help switching off, visit www.spotify.com and search for ‘Mark Williams Breathing Space Meditation’.