Top tips for doing work at home

Many of us have swapped the office or library for our bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms over the past year. It can be hard not getting a change of scenery and our Sustainability Team have shared their top tips for working or studying below.

From making the effort to get out of your PJs, to avoiding too much daytime TV, there’s some great things to try…

Starting your day well

Do you just roll out of bed and turn on your computer, or do you even just turn on your computer in bed? It is nice and cozy after all!

Working and studying from home every day can mean longer lie ins and less motivation to actually start doing work, so here’s some tips on how to start your day productively:

  • Get out of the house. Fake a morning commute by going for a short walk, or cycle. It’s a great way to wake up, get some fresh air and prepare to start your day. It also helps you separate work-life and home-life
  • Have breakfast whilst listening to a podcast, reading a book or watching TV. It’s a good way to relax before you start studying or working
  • Do some exercise. Try a virtual Yoga class, online workout with friends or getting out for a run can set you up for the day
  • Get ready for work. A benefit of working from home is that you don’t have to put on work clothes or even get dressed. Getting up out of bed, putting on some clothes that aren’t your PJ’s and brushing your hair will make you feel like you’re ready for the day, especially on the days when you’re just not feeling it
  • Try to keep to a routine if you can. Take regular breaks, schedule in your workload on a manageable timeline and start and finish work at the same time – Know when to ‘switch off’

Setting up your workspace

Many of us don’t have a dedicated office space to work in so try some of our tips for creating a productive space for you to spend your time in.

  • Set up a proper work/study space if you can – bring in some plants, move to a new room in the house, find what works for you and don’t be afraid to change it up
  • Try and face a window where you’re working. John, one of the team, spent about five months with a wall behind his monitor and one day worked in a different room and found that being able to see trees and sky helped him feel much happier
  • Make sure you’re comfortable, have proper seating and a desk set up
  • Try and find a work/study space away from living space (if you can) to help and separate work from down time

woman at a table with laptop and headphones on with a big window behind her

Structuring your routine

Usually at university or in the office you would have a few breaks in the day, walking from lectures and meetings and maybe even meet some friends for lunch. Working from home has made it hard to stick to a routine so make sure you manage your time in a way that suits you.

  • Only accept a manageable number of meeting invites each day, it can be exhausting being in meetings all day and that doesn’t change with them being online
  • Involve the people you live with in your routine. It might be out of your control who you share your workspace with but letting them know when you have important meetings and setting boundaries will save you worrying about interruptions. Maybe a ‘Do not disturb sign’ could help?
  • Don’t be afraid to take regular breaks throughout the day, even if you’re on your own. In the office or library, we would usually go get a cuppa, or chat to a colleague or friend for 5 mins, so it’s okay to do the equivalent in our own homes too
  • If you are working or studying from home with others, try and replicate the regular breaks and chats you’d be more likely to have if you were in the office or library. In our team we have a regular virtual ‘tea break’ where we catch up and check in with each other. Some people also take regular ‘run around the house’ breaks
  • Have a lunch break scheduled in your calendar, even if you move it around, so your time doesn’t get swallowed up with meetings. Why not change it up by having lunch somewhere different for a change of scenery too.

three people walking in the park

During the day

It can be hard being at home, especially if you live on your own. So be kind to yourself. Below are some top tips we’ve found have helped us during our workdays:

  • Try not to get hooked on daytime TV in your lunch break! (Home & Away became a daily guilty pleasure for Claire in our team… it must be the beach!)
  • Make yourself a few decent playlists – different music for different moods/levels of concentration! Ask your colleagues and friends to share their favourites with you. If you’re alone in the house it can be hard when you have nobody to vent or rationalise frustration with. Thom in our team has resolved this through music. Play it loud and have a dance around!
  • Bring in your pets as helpers/for a cuddle when you need it!
  • Make sure to get out for a walk a few times a week during the day if you can – explore bits of your neighbourhood you’ve never been to before and enjoy some daylight
  • Always have plenty of snacks (healthy + chocolatey!) Get nice things in for lunch especially if you’re trying to be healthy (otherwise you end up on a diet of cheese and pickle sandwiches and far too many biscuits and crisps. We all know it’s hard to stay away from the biscuit tin and the fridge!)

Video calls

Zoom quizzes and virtual catch ups are on the decline but virtual meetings and learning online is very much a way of life now. Here are our top tips.

  • On calls which are more informal or you don’t have to speak all the time then consider standing up for the meeting or at least getting up and stretching (you may wish to temporarily turn off your camera) – back-to-back calls sat down give you a numb bum!
  • Don’t be afraid to use the ‘blur background’ function on Teams calls for when your room is a mess, or experiment with other more fun backgrounds like the beach, or space!
  • Make sure you put yourself on mute if you’re in a call with lots of people, just try to remember to unmute yourself when you do want to talk! ‘You’re on mute’ is the new catchphrase in our team meetings
  • Try to avoid eating on video calls – it’s not usually a good look!

Finishing your day

Sometimes it’s hard to shut down from work or studying when you’re still in the same space all day. Our team have a few different ways to do this.

  • Be disciplined in shutting down at the end of the day, rather than thinking you might come back to it later in the evening – downtime is important!
  • If you don’t have a designated ‘work’ area then think about a cupboard or space you can shut your work away at the end of the day, even under the bed works!
  • Try an evening commute by getting out for a walk or some exercise to finish off your day
  • Try out some new hobbies, tv series, or films to give yourself something to look forward to on an evening and weekend – ask your colleagues and friends for ideas
  • Don’t download Teams or Outlook onto your phone, because then you are more likely to look at emails outside of work time

These are just some of the tips from our team which we hope will give you some new ideas. If you are finding it difficult being at home studying or working then there is lots of advice and help to support you. Take a look at the blog Zoe has written on self-care and wellbeing for help and support.

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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our work on supporting health and wellbeing is linked to the following SDGs:

      • Goal 3: Good health and well-being
      • Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.