27 September 2023

Home work: Balancing the dishes and data

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With so many of us now in the unfamiliar working environment of home, Michelle Bakjac* stresses the importance of keeping the same routines we are used to in the office.

Offices are empty. If you haven’t yet been sent home there is a likelihood that you will be.

I have worked from home off and on during my career and it can definitely present its challenges.

Sometimes the only ‘person’ I will talk to for hours at a time is my dog.

I think I have gotten better at it over the years and as a result have been able to manage my own personal wellbeing and resilience.

It’s not always easy going from a bustling and busy office to being on your own and still managing your wellbeing and the habits of a good work routine.

Going into solitude is a big adjustment, so don’t be too hard on yourself initially.

This is what I learned from my own habits and from the good advice of others.

Keep your routine: It’s very easy to slip into an unhelpful routine.

You can get up late and sleep in, you can do chores, and then you finish late and work into the night.

You can also get up and work furiously all day and forget what else or who else is in the house and keep going until the small hours.

The lines between work and life can get very fuzzy.

So, get up at the same time, have a shower and get dressed at the same time.

Sit down at your usual work start time.

If you have a break at lunch in the office, then have a break for lunch at home.

Finish at the same time you usually would at work — even set your alarm to remind you.

We all do better when we have structure and a semblance of routine.

Keep Connected: At work there is usually that first 10 minutes when we say good morning, we get a coffee and discuss the latest episode of that Netflix series we are all watching.

So set up a group chat or Skype call every morning at the same time.

Allow a quick 15-minute meeting to occur for everyone to touch base, discuss where workload is up to, talk through any problems and stay connected.

Just because you are at home does not mean you can’t talk to people.

Don’t just email, have an actual conversation.

Work From A Place That Boosts Your Mood: Try and sit in a spot that has great natural light, where you feel refreshed and comfortable and yet invigorated.

I always buy flowers for myself or have plants on my desk to make my workstation fell fresh and inviting.

I also make sure I have a dedicated workstation and don’t work on my lap sitting in bed or on the couch.

Put The Dishes Down: It is tempting to get distracted with all the things at home that need your attention

You make a bargain with yourself that you will just clean the house now, and then catch up on work later.

That is just creating a habit which leads to a bad routine and late nights catching up and worries leading to guilt and frustration.

Remember to try and treat your ‘workday’ like you would if you were at work.

A ‘To Do List’ and a ‘Ta Da List’: Start out the morning with a To Do List — what is it that you want to get achieved today.

What are your objectives, your goals and outcomes? Then attribute priorities to each.

But don’t forget your ‘Ta Da List’ as well.

Write a list of things that make you feel really good such as take a bath, walk the dog, or have a family dinner.

Make sure you do two things on this list every day.

Be Mindful Of Distractions: We have to be aware that there are a lot of distractions at home — mobile phones, the pets, the kids, the TV etc.

Recognise that occasionally our brain does need a break, but build in healthy and mindful ‘tune ups’.

Go outside and stand in the sun for a while, Skype a friend for 10 minutes, make yourself a healthy snack.

The 90 Minute Rule: Our brain tends to work most efficiently in 90-minute blocks.

We can all usually work well under pressure and maintain our levels of stress more effectively when we take regular breaks and let our mind and bodies rejuvenate.

You will find that after taking a quick break every 90 minutes your productivity increases.

So, these are things you can do to stay effective and maintain your personal resilience while working from home.

It’s not always easy. You won’t always get it right all the time.

It is a constant learning curve to get the right balance.

When our environment externally is so challenging right now, we want our internal environment to be as secure as we can.

It’s important we find the right balance, so enjoy this opportunity and good luck.

*Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Adelaide-based psychologist, organisational consultant, coach, speaker and facilitator and a Director of Bakjac Consulting. She can be contacted at [email protected].

This article first appeared on the Bakjac Consulting website.

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