Are you Working from home (and keeping it all together)? Here’s how I manage…

Working from home in the era of Covid has meant a chance to reflect on the way we live and how to achieve some much needed work-life balance.

I’ve been working from home in a studio for the last 5 years. Until a few weeks ago, it always had a little bit of a feeling that it wasn’t ‘real work’ since I don’t drive into an office. Originally it was from a desk in the open plan living area, and it felt a little like I was just pretending sometimes. Now I have a dedicated home studio space, it’s much easier to separate work from ‘home’ life. The absolute best benefit is all the saved time & stress of not travelling to work; even now, I still feel a sense of joy listening to the radio traffic report in the mornings & thank goodness I’m not stuck in that!

Right now, our whole household is working & studying from home, including my partner and two teenage girls. Here are my tips for working at home.

Include exercise in your routine

Sitting down all day at a desk in your home is a bit different to being in an office with other colleagues; you’re sitting in the one spot with no mini-breaks such as getting a glass of water and stopping by a colleagues desk for a chat, going to the cafe and stretching your legs, going to the photocopier on the other side of the office, etc. I found myself getting so ‘rusty’ I’d get up from my desk by mid afternoon and find myself almost literally creaking while walking up the hallway to get the mail in the afternoon. For me it took some time finding a routine, a type of exercise at that I enjoyed and slotting it into a time of the day that helped energise me. I’ve always done a bit of yoga, and recently have been able to fit an hour of that into my early mornings since I’m not having to take kids to school. I’ve found success in taking a run before lunch, which has left me feeling that I’ve still got heaps of energy still in the evening.

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries around what I do during traditional ‘work hours’ isn’t easy, especially when it’s more convenient for me being at home & being my own boss, to also be the one to do the school morning run, picking teens up from school because they only have classes half the day, or taking kids to the doctor. Yes there are days that can be totally interrupted with things like that, and it’s easy to feel like I’m taken for granted sometimes (I end up ranting ‘I’m not a stay at home mum!’ half the time). I try to control the things I can. I don’t do household tasks during work time; I try to get some stuff done in the morning and start working at 9am. I leave the tasks that require less concentration until the afternoon; it’s definitely harder to work once the rest of the family gets home and starts winding down.

Dressing for work from home

I always dress for work, in a smart casual manner; you never know when you’ll need to have an impromptu Skype or FaceTime meeting with a client or contractor, or to attend a last minute meeting in person. I generally wear jeans, and dress it up with a nice top & shoes, and do my hair every day. It helps me feel more professional & organised for the day. This also sends another visual cue to my family that I’m working. Another thing I’m mindful of is to purposely change into exercise gear to exercise, then back out into work clothes for the remainder of my day. My work area is a separate studio; at the end of the day I can walk away from it and close the door, providing that valuable transition moment from work to home-life.

I also make sure that my desk area is a clean and tidy space that inspires me; Steve Cordony’s instagram a great inspiration for desk styling.

For more advise on creating the perfect workspace read my post on How to make your Co-working space your own

Be Social & keep up with the latest in your industry or learn something new.

Being stuck at home limits your social interaction. I try to find time to get out to visit showrooms, attend industry events & exhibitions such as the Heide museum of Modern Art (apart from the present while everything is on hold). Listening to Podcasts & webinars is a great way to feel like you’re a little less on your own, and keep up with the latest happenings and trends in your industry. I use this medium to learn new ways of working, running my business, and see how other designers and business owners work. I’ve also attended the Fernwood and karate lessons, both of which also give me an opportunity to get out of the house & meet other locals. At the moment, exercise classes via Zoom are a great way to connect with others when we are all in lockdown. Just walking to the coffee shop is a luxury at the moment.

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