My five essentials to help you work from home

Chris McGuire's new book on homework

Chris McGuire's new book on homework - Credit: Archant

As Covid-19 leads many of us to work from home for the first time, stay-at-home dad Chris McGuire gives his tips on being a homeworker – as seen in his new book, Homeworking: The Ultimate Guide

I’ve worked from home for several years now, long enough to understand that, for many, homeworking has become synonymous with skiving and watching endless daytime TV.

The reality is somewhat different, I’ve found homeworkers to be a self-motivated and dedicated lot, efficiently ploughing through work at rates only dreamed of in conventional offices. So, as many of us take to working from home for the first time – as a result of Covid 19 – here are my tips to ease you into the world of the homeworker.

? Whatever you do, avoid procrastination.

Procrastination is the nemesis of the anyone who works from home. Freed from the restrictions of conventional office environs, the homeworker is at liberty to do what they want, when they want. This perceived freedom is a double-edged sword. Before you know it, those who are new to this game are rearranging their sock drawers, vacuuming stripes into their carpet and watching hundreds of episodes of Tipping Point. All I can say is: resist procrastination, resist it with all your might! Procrastination is not your friend. It may seem like fun to put your feet up and watch old Adam Sandler movies during your workday, but you’ll regret it as soon as your next deadline looms. TBH, with my experience of Adam Sandler movies, I’m regretting it as I watch them!

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? Get a schedule and stick to it.

Most of us thrive when we’ve a clear idea of what’s expected of us, and what the boundaries are. So, it can be difficult going from a highly formalised workplace to typing in your box room. Creating a schedule, and sticking to it, is something you won’t regret. Get up at the same time every day, start work at the same time, have lunch at the same time… you get the idea. It may sound draconian to be subject to a timetable in your own home – but you’ll get a lot more done that way. Consider marking out part of your house (preferably a room with a door) as your workspace – somewhere you only go to when you’re working, and close the door on when it’s your leisure time. This demarcation will really help manage your work/life balance.

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? Dress for success.

We’ve all fantasized about ditching formal attire and working in our PJs. Here’s my advice – don’t. Yes, it might seem fun to not worry about what we’re wearing when we work, but spending the day in your dressing gown doesn’t really give you the “get-up-and-go” feeling you need to get your day done. NB: You don’t “go” anywhere, you’re at home. Remember you could receive a Skype call from your boss at any time, who might not be pleased to see you in pyjamas at 3pm!

? Worry about the wi-fi.

How’s your wi-fi? Trying to work from home without decent wi-fi is like trying to ride the Tour de France without a bike – not the greatest idea. If you have to stand on one leg in your kitchen, with your laptop in the air to get signal – now’s the time to consider fixing it.

? Don’t forget the snacks.

Anyone attempting to work from home should make sure they have essentials. No, I’m not talking about thousands of toilet rolls (if you’re a loo-roll hoarder, shame on you). I’m not even talking about stationery. Don’t attempt to work from home without the “Holy Trinity” of food and drink: coffee, tea and biscuits. For me, attempting to get work done in a domestic space without access to decent coffee is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute – something you’ll only attempt once. Stock up on the snack essentials. NB: By “stock-up” I mean get a packet of each, not every packet in your local town.

So those are my top tips. I hope they help anyone who finds themselves thrust into the world of homeworking. Doing your job in a domestic environment can revolutionise your life, as long as you remember to avoid procrastination. It’s just occurred to me that you might be procrastinating right now – reading this.

Stop it! Get on with your work!

Chris McGuire is the author of Homeworking: The Ultimate Guide, illustrated by Spencer Wilson and published by Ice House Books – out now. Follow him on Twitter @McGuireski

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