Laura’s 10 tips on working from home during lockdown

It’s currently week 5 in lockdown and I’d like to tell you about some tips that we, at Pride Road, have been compiling for managing your house during this time. In our house of 5, we are all trying to do different things at different times with different schedules and there’s lots of Zoom calls, schoolwork, bouncing on trampolines, and playing. It’s a lot for all of us. Quite a lot of my clients have babies and toddlers and very little space, so many people are crammed in together, trying to meet many needs. We’ve asked around loads of friends and I’ve done a radio interview about this topic, so I thought I’d share 10 top tips for working at home.

1. Find a zone that’s yours. Some people are using their dressing table in their bedroom, or commandeered the conservatory, or have moved a table into a playroom. It seems that having a zone that’s yours where you can have a Zoom meeting in peace, knowing that, as you shut the door, hopefully someone won’t come in, allows you to concentrate. Leaving your work things there at the end of the day also helps, as it separates work and home.

2. Find a nice background. If you are doing Zoom calls and are in chaos you can either use the Zoom background or use the nicest wall in your house- that’s a nice colour or with a nice picture. Thinking about the background is important and even politicians aren’t doing this and it’s fascinating seeing their scruffy bookcases in the background. So, position yourself in front of a nice wall and make sure there’s good light on your face and use that for your conference calls.

3. Create a work rota with your partner. My husband and I tried this with him starting really early in the morning and working until lunchtime, and I would home-school and then we’d swap. Although starting at lunchtime didn’t work for me, you can use your different work patterns to create some sort of rota so that both of you are getting time out to properly concentrate on what you need to do.

4. Wi-Fi extender plugs. I’m really struggling with Wi-Fi as it’s going on and off, so I’ve just had to move my router nearer to the computer. It might just be worth plugging it in, so you don’t have to worry about it.

5. Empty out your coat cupboard. We’ve all got spaces in our houses that we just use for storage at the moment, and the name of the game is keeping the kids busy; Could your under the stairs cupboard become Harry Potter World? Chuck out all the bits and pieces that are in there, put them in the car boot or the garage, and make a little world so your child may entertain themselves for ten minutes- it’s worth a try.

6. Find a corner of your living room to work in, and, if necessary, find a space on the opposite side for your child to work in. Quite a few of my friends are doing this as they don’t have a spare office space, or their husbands are using it.

7. Get up early and get your key work done when there are no distractions. I’ve done that today and I feel a lot better for it. Everyone has those 1 or 2 tricky things- your frogs in the day that you need to get done. Get up early and get at least started on them, or get one of them done, before the kids are up and before problems happen; yesterday my daughter’s laptop died so there will always be some crisis, so working when there isn’t yet a crisis is crucial.

8. Someone I know is doing home-school all around the house- in different areas, and they’re saying that’s a lot less boring for their child. They would do art in one room and maths in another or something in the garden. It’s also quite a good idea to follow the sun around as often it’s more attractive to go in a sunny room in the morning, so you’ll be more likely to start.

9. Create a space to work. We know someone that has emptied out their airing cupboard to make an office. Now this is an extreme case, but it’s a big airing cupboard and their boiler has been moved so it’s actually quite a nice place to work in. You could use a loft or a cupboard and make it a nice space using a laptop, a plant and a little desk. Just be creative.

10. Make time for yourself. You don’t have to take your child out with you when you go for your exercise- it’s fine to just go and have some thinking space, which actually makes you work better, as your subconscious could be working on things.

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