Working from home sounds great but can be fraught with difficulties so think through how it will work in practice. Success will be dependent on your own situation, the space you have and your internet connection.
The internet connection is crucial so if your bandwidth and connectivity cuts out frequently or is very slow then contact your provider and also look at booster solutions.

At a challenging time like lockdown – where you have no choice but to work from home and also little or no ability to get out and about then a reality check about what’s actually do-able is needed.Accept that you’ll be less productive than usual – your brain will be missing the stimulation from having colleagues around, meetings, networking events, travel time etc and it’s much harder to work on your own for long periods of time.

Agree with your work or decide if you are a sole trader, what the absolute priorities are for you:
– Set or agree some realistic weekly goals – keep reviewing them
– Set a realistic target or goal each day
– If it’s not that important then don’t do it
As time is going on, it’s natural for our mood to drop or to get angry at our situation so you need to consciously decide to act positively – but accept you can’t be full of positivity all the time – find someone to talk you and don’t bottle it up. You could buddy up with a colleague you trust and support each other.

Keeping productive for work during lockdown
Be aware of what you can realistically do and accept that your brain can only function to the max for short periods. The stress of the unknown future will affect your productivity so:
– Set small goals and targets – easy steps rather than a large project plan
– If you’re in a noisy place, especially with children around, put on headphones or earplugs to help you focus
– Download a background track of natural sounds, birdsong, white noise, rippling brook, seaside etc – these will filter out the surrounding sounds and help you to focus

Set a maximum of 5 things to do each day
– 2 for work
– 2 family or home things
– 1 exercise
Don’t try to do more because you’ll get frustrated and stressed if you don’t succeed. If you do manage more then that’s’s a bonus – so celebrate it. Accept that you can’t do as much at home as you can at work, but your work may be of higher quality because you’re not trying to fit in other activities.

Keeping your family from cabin fever
Your household probably won’t be quiet if you have children or relatives living with you. Even pets get stressed when their usual routine is changed. Depending on your family make up:
– Draw up a family contract
– Identify – what are our biggest challenges?
– What can we each do?
– What are we each good at?
– Try to get a simple agreement about how you can all live, work and do school work – it doesn’t need to be the Geneva Convention

Stick to routines where possible – they give us a sense of safety and predictability at a time where there is uncertainty:
– Create zones in the home (draw out a picture for children)
– Work areas
– Play and relaxation areas
– Time to be alone areas (these are very important for your mental health)

Keeping the family amused or studying
“Home Schooling” has been used to refer to the education your children receive whilst they’re at home due to the school closures. Home schooling is actually a choice where you decide you are going to formally educate them at home and not use the school system.
A more accurate term to use is “distance learning” – which is not the same thing. You’re not a qualified teacher and even if you are, trying to provide a whole curriculum to your children in their home environment (which no one chose) is very difficult.
Your children still need access to education, some of which may be provided by their school, might be online programmes, tv programmes or other resources but they’re not in an education environment so like you, won’t be as productive:

For pre schoolers – keep to their nap times and use them to do some of your own work whilst they’re asleep
For school age children – agree some set times to do school work / exercise videos / educational tv programmes etc

If you have teenagers studying for exams then discuss with them and the school what is realistic for them to achieve – especially if you have other children in the house who distract them.

Keep a structure but don’t panic if they are just not in the mood. Let them play and be tolerant
Try to head off arguments before they arise and remember their whole world has been turned upside down in a very short period of time

Teenagers often don’t want to be with family at the best of times so don’t be surprised if they just want to be on social media with their friends but try and agree set times for work

If you have a partner, agree how to share childcare times:
– Try making a timetable grid for each day – be realistic and build in fun or chill times
– Be realistic about what’s achievable

This is not home schooling – but family times can be a positive learning experience

More to come on the next blog to help you through this tough time