How to work from home without going insane

How to work from home without going insane

I hadn’t planned to write a blog post about how to work from home and be productive. But these are strange times we have found ourselves in and if there is one thing I’ve gotten good at over the past 3 years as a digital nomad, it’s motivating myself to work from home, even when an adventure is calling.

So, inspired by the fact I’ve spoken to so many people I know who are now being faced with the reality of having to work from home during this time of social distancing and self-isolation. I wanted to share some things I do to keep my self on track and motivated while working from home, including some tips for setting up your home workspace and laying out some boundaries so you can keep work/life balance.

Set up your home office space

I recently got back to Mexico from Colombia and the first thing I did was organize my little home office. It’s actually just a corner of my bedroom but it’s set up so that I know when I’m sat on that chair at my desk it’s work time. My laptop does NOT go onto the bed with me (unless I’m watching Netflix haha). It’s Important to have these boundaries otherwise these next weeks are going to be unbearable.

The thing I’ve heard from several members of my family is about how they are hating not having the separation of physically going to work. With s dedicated work area you may not be leaving the house, but when you take yourself to your work area you are physically moving out of your home space into a workspace. Try as best you can to create and enforce this boundary.

In my workspace, I have a desk, my chair, a whiteboard with the tasks I’m working on, my weekly planner notepad (which I list all of my daily tasks I’m working on. I list these things the evening before so when I arrive at work the next day I know what I’m working on. I also use ClickUp and Slack with my virtual team, but I personally like having these lists written in a place I can see them.

How to work from home without going insane
My little office corner in my bedroom.

I’m also a big fan of setting up an ergonomic space and I have a laptop stand, external keyboard, and mouse to make sure I’m not getting neck strain.

I also have a few little personal things around my desk, a pinboard with pics of my family and notes people have sent me, plus pics of people and things that inspire me. On my whiteboard as well as my projects on it I have some quotes, mantras and other more spiritual things to inspire me. It’s important to set up a space you want to work from.

As well as having this workspace it’s equally important to create other ‘spaces’ for relaxing and doing other things. In my room I have my hammock, this is my napping, reading, and relaxing space.

Then I have my balcony with a rocking chair. Here is another reading, relaxing, and eating space. I can also place my yoga mat out here for yoga or meditation practice.

Then my final space is where I sleep. My bed is just for sleeping and this is the most important boundary you must create. Don’t take work energy to bed with you. Things are going to get intense and blurred over the coming days and weeks, the only way through is to create these very clear boundaries.

Do not take your work to bed!

When it’s time for bed (if you can) turn your phone to airplane mode and don’t turn it back on until you begin to work the next day. Mine goes off at 8:30 pm and I don’t turn it back on until 10 am.

Make sure your family/ partner/ roomies are onboard

Now you have your workspace set up it’s time to get everyone else in your living space onboard. For some (like me) this is easy. My roomies know if I’m in my room with my door shut I don’t want to be disturbed. If they need me they will knock, but they are very respectful of these boundaries. If you have a family at home this is going to be a lot harder! 

I must be honest I’m probably not someone who can advise you on how to get your kids to respect your work boundaries seen as I don’t have any. But take a read of this post on working from home with kids which will really help. This post on how to homeschool and work from home is also brilliant. 

ps if you parents are looking for some inspiring things to do at home with your kids then check out my good friend Roaming Nanny, she is posting a new fun kids activity each day to help you through!

Just clearly explain to whoever you live with that during these hours, while you are sat at your desk in your home workspace you should only be disturbed in an emergency. Be very clear about your boundaries and explain to the people that you live with that these boundaries are important for you to keep some work-life separation during this time snd it’s very important that they respect your boundaries.

Hopefully, they will understand. If you do have kids maybe writing the list of rules and placing it somewhere they can see would help, that way if they do approach you can just point to the riles and hopefully they will obey them.

Create a daily routine (and stick to it)

Now, this is important, so, so important. If you want to avoid spiraling into weeks of unproductive blurring together of work, Netflix, and binge-eating ice cream. You need to create a routine! Write it all down and stick to it!

I’m the worst at routine and my days oftern have no structure as I’m on the road so much. But when faced with the possibility of being stuck in my bedroom living and working for the coming weeks (months?!?) I know that creating a daily routine is going to be the glue that holds my sanity together and I am going to cling to it for my life.

I was never very good at this stuff, but my mentor June Gamble who was also my boss for many years tirelessly persisted in trying to drum this stuff into me and it eventually stuck. So if you need a helping hand in getting some systems together to help you be more productive then send June an email as she has a lot of amazing digital resources that she can send you.

Here is what my daily routine looks like:

6:30 am alarm
Morning Ayurveda routine:

  • Wash my face
  • Brush my teeth
  • Tonge scraping
  • Drink a glass of water (room temperature)

6:45 am Yoga, Pranayama, mantra chanting, meditation – I’m actually doing these morning yoga classes with two of my good friends via google hangouts. After the class, we all check-in before starting work. If you didn’t know I’m also a yoga teacher so it’s nice to do a little teaching without the pressure of having to lead an actual class.

Take a shower
Breakfast
Read my book from my hammock.

10 am begin work
1 pm Lunch (time spent on my balcony or in my hammock)
2 pm begin work
4 pm Online Spanish Class with Toucan Experiences
5 pm back to work
7 pm relaxing in my hammock
8 pm dinner
10 pm bed

In this daily routine, I have work time, relaxing time, exercise, and physical contact via skype/ google hangouts at either end of the day.

Your’s may look very different, that’s fine, do what works for you. Just make sure it’s written down somewhere you can see it and stick to it. I use this weekly planner pad to jot things down in the order I want to do them.

Split your time into chunks

This is important for productivity. Divide your working time into chunks. You can do this using something like Forest if you have an inclination to get distracted easily, or just a simple google sheet with color-coded time chunks that you can print and stick on your wall. You could even do it on your google calendar and set little alarms to remind you when you need to move on to a different task.

Do what works for you.

There are a million and one different ways to tighten up your productivity. Find one method that works for you and stick to it. You may end up trying out a few different methods before you find one that works for you, so don’t be afraid to test a few before sticking to one.

Take regular breaks

This is important, and when I say take regular breaks, this isn’t code for click on Facebook and mindlessly scroll through your news feed and give yourself even more anxiety at the current situation.

Seriously. Please don’t do that.

In fact, I want you to commit right now to set yourself some rules about Facebook and watching the news.

Here are my rules:

I am only allowing myself to access Facebook at 10 am when I sit at my desk to begin work and I will allow myself 10 minutes max. I will not access Facebook again until lunchtime when I will have 10 minutes max on there. Afterwork I can spend a max of 1 hour on Facebook during the evening.

I do not have a TV but I will check the news via BBC international no more than twice per day.

Feel free to do the same, or modify it so it works for you. You can also use apps like Forest to blacklist Facebook and any other website you want to limit your access to.

This is important for my mental health right now as I can oftern feel completely overwhelmed by what I’m seeing on the News and on Facebook. I don’t want to completely remove myself as Facebook is how I connect with my family and friends, it’s just about setting boundaries and limiting right now so I’m not feeling so overwhelmed with it all.

Do what you need to do to look after yourself.

Exercise

Image of Irene (Yoga Con Irene)

I don’t care what this looks like for you, be it walking your dog for 20 minutes (while social distancing of course), or doing a little yoga. But make sure you are exercising every day for at least 20 minutes. I’m dedicating 2 hours each morning to yoga and meditation. This may be too much for you, but it’s what I need to keep my body and mind healthy. I’m also doing an online dance class each lunchtime and I’ll probably do a little more yoga in the evening.

Need to buy a new yoga mat? Take a read of this.

Here is a list of some places where you can find inspiration. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something that gets your heart rate up and your body moving at least once a day.

Flow Dance Yoga – My friend Zoe is offering 3 yoga classes per week (UK time) visit her website for more information.

YoYoga – This is my yoga studio and where I teach sometimes. They are offering classes daily via live stream on Facebook. Just join the group and click to be notified of the live classes. 

Yoga Veda – have set up a Satsang community offering free online classes in yoga, meditation, and other exciting and interesting things. You can check out their timetable here.

Hayley Matthews – My dear friend Hayley is offering free daily ‘kids into to the day’ at 9asm UK time and adults coffee break with Hayley movement sessions at 11 am UK time. 

Sally Kidd – Is offering online strength and fitness classes (UK time). Visit her Facebook page for more information.

Uforia Studios – are offering online Hip Hop classes (Pacific time)

Dance Forever – are offering fun ‘Flash Dance and tone classes (Central time)

Gaga Online – I think this is my FAVORITE thing to have come out of this whole mess… GAGA classes online! If you don’t know what Gaga is don’t worry, just watch this. They have classes in different timezones and they even have classes for ‘normal people’ and classes for dancers. I did my first class today and it was so good! I actually sobbed after the class, which was a good thing.  It’s been quite the week and I needed the release. There were over 50 people in the class all moving together and it was a wonderful experience. They are just asking for donations if you can afford it.

Soul Journey Work – is my friend Mahadevi and she is offering distance energy work if you feel you need something more 121. 

Personally I highly recommend doing something before breakfast, a quick 10-20 minute something at lunchtime and then something more relaxing before bed.

 

How to work from home without going insane

 

It’s all about balance.

And that’s it. In a nutshell, this is how I’m personally planning to survive these coming weeks or uncertainty and home confinement. If you have any questions, tips, advice, or resources you would like to share. Please comment below, or reach out to me via email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Take care, stay safe, and stay sane!

Claire

Claire Summers

Dancer, producer, traveller, photographer, cake maker, dog lover and knitter of Christmas scarfs.

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