Many of our children don’t like to admit this – and if they’re reading this article, they’ll say it’s not true – but until at least the age of 16, our children need us to be actively involved in a good portion of their lives.
Okay, so we’ve got to be bunkered down into our homes for the next little while – which means that the nature of work is radically changing.
For the best part of a decade I was helping to establish new churches – which means I’ve spent a LOT of time working from home! So here are some of the best-practice tips I learnt, to help you get the most out of the experience.
1 – Flannel will start to feel like failure
The first couple of days of working from home, the novelty of working in your pyjamas is really great—but, it’ll quickly wear off. Trying to set a world record for longest time in PJs is not a good idea. Somewhere in the middle of day three, your outfit will start to feel like failure. Trust me, each morning you need to keep up your regular get-ready-for-work routine. Shower, get changed, put on some proper work attire, and gear up for a proper day of working.
2 – Don’t mix your work space with your fun space
You want to have your work area designated clearly. This should be a zone that doesn’t sit in the middle of a fun zone. If you can avoid it, don’t use your bedroom! It honestly can be the WORST place to work from. If possible, bedrooms should remain dedicated to relaxation and rest, not work and stress.
For parents with kids, or flatmates who have no other quiet spots in the house, do your best to set up a corner with a small desk and chair, and keep it tidy. Otherwise, set up in the spare room, or carve out a spot in a part of the house with no major foot traffic. If you can, position yourself so you’re facing away from any general living areas. You’ll be less distracted, and the rest of the family won’t have to tiptoe around you. Do work when you are in your workspace, then move out into other areas when you need to chill out. And, if you have kids doing homework, craft or playing at the same table, try to make it a ‘quiet play only’ zone.
You can definitely make your workspace feel enjoyable – you’ll be using it awhile – but don’t turn your fun space into a workplace!
3 – Inject some comfort and colour into your work space
Make your mini work space as pleasant as you can, and add some touches of colour and familiarity. Even if your table or desk is only one metre square, you can still set it up neatly. Try some of the following:
- Add a favourite mug to house your pens and stationery
- Blu Tack a couple of favourite photos to the wall
- Relocate a small lamp or plotpant to add some cheer
- Add a cushion to your chair if it’s a little hard and uncomfortable
- Keep a water bottle handy to keep hydrated
- Have *healthy* snacks ready to go for in-between meals: fruit, nuts, yoghurt, cheese and rice crackers, whatever works for you!
- Pay attention to ergonomics: if you’re starting to get a sore back or arms, it’s time to adjust your posture and position (see infographic at the bottom of this page)
- Get up and stretch every half hour or so
- Tidy your power cords and computer cables – invest in extra powerboards or extension leads to make your space a little nicer, and avoid trip hazards
And when you finish working each day, tidy up so you have an organised space to come back to, instead of a dump. It’s amazing how much a little tidiness can make you feel better about your work.
4 – Have a ‘stop’ signal
If you are living with other people it really helps to have some sort of signal or sign that tells people, “please don’t talk to me, I’m working and not available for any interruptions”. This sign needs to be clear and obvious, and everyone who is in the house needs to know what this means. When the sign is up—“Strictly no interruptions, I don’t have to apologise, this is a work zone and I’m locked in”. When the sign is down, “I’m available for a chat and can be interrupted”.
It could be a reversible “Stop-Go” sign with green on one side and red on the other, hanging on the door handle, or taped to the back of your laptop. If you get the kids to help make it, they’ll be even more invested in following its instructions!
5 – Headphones are your friend…
Can you get your hands on some of those big over-ear headphones? If so, use them! Nothing communicates ‘don’t interrupt me, I’m working’, better than those headphones. If you need to get some proper quiet, invest in a pair of the noise-cancelling ones (shop online!).
In the office, ‘headphones on’ generally means ‘busy’; so start to communicate that in the same way around the house. They’re gold for productivity; trust me, the bigger and more obvious your headphones the better.
6 …But the kitchen isn’t…
The kitchen is the worst spot for working from home – it is the nosiest and busiest place in the house; also food is there. Try and limit your kitchen time to only snacks and lunch, tea and coffee. It really doesn’t help when you are trying to be productive to hang out near the fridge. Minimise your time in the kitchen!
7 …And a list is your *best* friend!
I one-hundred-percent love a list. It gives me a clear target for what I need to accomplish each day. I divide my lists into three sections. The first is the things that I ‘Must’ get done; these are the highest importance items. The second section is things that I “Should’ get done; these aren’t as serious and if I get to them today, I’ll have an easier schedule later on. Finally I have the ‘Play’ section; those items that need to happen but aren’t urgent. If I crack the ‘Must’ column, I’ve had a GREAT day! If I hit a ‘Should’ item, then I’m KILLING it!
If I smash both of those and then hit the fun stuff, well, I’ve probably got a pretty chilled-out day tomorrow.
8 – Have clear work hours
You have to over-communicate regularly when you are working from home. When you set your office hours, you need to make it clear that you aren’t available to put on the washing or vacuum the house during that time. If you do actually happen to get things finished early, announce to everyone that you are “Home from Work!”, so people know that you are now available to help out with things.
Early on in the process of working from home, I got frustrated with the chores that were coming in while I was working. This conversation helps to alleviate the tension.
9 – Zoom, Skype or Facetime: Video call your colleagues
It is important to maintain face-to-face time with people, check-in about projects you’re working on together, and have the occasional water-cooler chat. It’s good for office morale, and helps you work as a team. Now that many of us are working in isolation at home, it shouldn’t stop the conversation – just do it on a screen!
Text messaging and online chat options are great too – keep using those – but add into the mix a regular face-to-face chat.
10 – Go for a walk or a run – regularly
If you are finding that your productivity is dipping a little, then remember you can always take a stroll. Maintaining the appropriate distance from other people, of course, make sure you get out at least for a short time each day. Exercise is one of the permitted outdoor activities, and it’s going to be essential for your mental and physical health in this season of social isolation. Pop in your earbuds, hit ‘go’ on your favourite playlist, and go for a brisk walk or a run. If you have kids, a partner or a pet, take them with you!
Do whatever you need do to take your mind off things for a little bit. Working from home does make life a little more flexible, so why not take advantage of the fact that you can process stuff on a nice walk.
Townsville City Council has made the decision to close its CityLibraries, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, community centres and venues and its customer service centre walk-in service at 103 Walker Street as it works to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Council CEO Mike Chiodo said the decision comes following the Federal Government’s new social distancing restrictions that have closed pubs, clubs, gyms, sporting venues, entertainment venues, restaurants and places of worship.
“The stage one restrictions on social gatherings implemented by the Federal Government include a restriction on facilities. For Council, this includes three library branches, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, our sports and community venues, including Townsville Civic Theatre,” he said. “These closures will be in effect from 6pm Wednesday. “CityLibraries has an extensive online library service, including e-books, audio books and movies, which can be accessed through the Council website and we are preparing to livestream events like exhibition openings and library story time to continue to engage with the community.
“This is an important social distancing measure to keep people safe and will hopefully assist in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community.” Mr Chiodo said closing this number of Council venues was unprecedented, but it was the right decision for Townsville. “We will also be restricting Council’s Customer Service Centre to being over-the-phone only. Planning applications will still be able to be submitted digitally, and council is preparing a physical drop off point for applications and survey plans to be physically submitted at boxes at Council,” he said.
“We want to do our part to keep our staff and community safe and slow the spread of COVID-19, and this includes following the new laws from the Federal Government. “The advice from the Federal Government is that these measures could be in place for up to six months. “Our staff members who work in these areas will continue with their jobs and in other areas of Council. Council is committed to supporting its staff through this period.”
For more updates on COVID-19, visit health.qld.gov.au.
How to use CityLibraries during the shutdown
Emily’s Voice, a movement for life, is launching a brand new, special release publication called All That Wonder. A publication in magazine format, full of colour pages that will include real life stories, articles, artwork and graphics that will help readers answer the question ‘What Can I Do?’ When it comes to the topic changing the culture of life, All That Wonder will help inspire, resource and empower people to lovingly change our beautiful country.
One of the articles by Tasmanian pastor Sharon O’Neill, she writes, “Being pro-life for me, as a pastor, means standing with Jesus when he said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” found from John 10:10.
The publication will also give advice on how to talk about abortion and pro-life without causing offense, while also looking at some biblical examples of women in the bible who caused an epic disruption for life.
On top of studies and advice, you will be able to find real life, sometimes heartbreaking, yet incredibly inspiring true stories of women who have faced these issues and how each of them dealt with it differently.
Emily’s Voice CEO Leighton Joyce said he hoped All That Wonder would serve to not only point people to the innate wonder of life, but also to the opportunity to support women in our unique spheres of influence.
Editor of All That Wonder and Emily’s Voice communication specialist, Clair van Ryn, spoke with Dan on the Drive Home earlier this week, have a listen to the interview below.
Head over to our Instagram, where we are giving away a copy of All That Wonder. Make sure you’re following @99.9Livefm like the post and tag a friend to enter the draw, or head emilysvoice.com and pre-order your copy and join the movement for life.
All that Wonder will be launched on Saturday March 14, 3pm in Brisbane.
Have your say on Townsville CityLibraries with the We Love Our Libraries survey this month. The online survey takes a look at how locals use their libraries so Townsville City Council can better understand what residents’ library needs are. Community and Cultural Development Committee Chairperson, Councillor Colleen Doyle, said this was an easy way to make sure the city’s libraries were providing the best services for our community.
“We want to hear from you and find out what you love about your local library and what could be done even better,” Cr Doyle said. “Council is always looking for ways to improve the services that we offer, and this three-minute survey is a quick and easy way to know what you’d like to see at your library.” Cr Doyle said completing the We Love Our Libraries survey could be done two ways.
“It’s very easy to do the We Love Our Libraries survey. Simply fill out the survey online or in person at your favourite CityLibraries branch to have your say,” she said. “Once you’ve done that, you’ll be in the draw for a chance to win one of five $100 gift vouchers.”
To fill out the We Love Our Libraries survey, visit www.townsville.qld.gov.au. The survey is open until 29 February.