Latest News: Top tips for better home-based working and studying

Jim Simpson

Jim Simpson

Management teacher, University of Sussex

Are you working from home or studying at home?  Lots of us are embarking on this for the first time.  I have chatted to many colleagues who work at home and I’ve been home-based for many years. I have distilled lots of advice into just five tips that will really help get you settled into, or change, home-habits that are good, healthy and productive for home-working and studying :

1  Set small, achievable daily goals.  Ideally set yourself  two ‘thinking’ goals in the morning and two ‘doing’ goals in the afternoon.  Often we drift into work via e-mail and misuse optimal time-slots.  Thinking, analysing and being creative is best done in the morning.  ‘Doing’, admin and less taxing stuff is best done in the afternoon. Variety is important in home working. If your work does not have much variety, then make sure you pepper your day with some other activities in small regular time-slots.

2 When you’ve achieved these goals – two morning goals and two afternoon goals – treat yourself in a way that suits you. Music, games, jokes websites, crosswords – whatever is your thing.  Reward yourself often!  If you’ve not achieved your goals  then you’ve been wrong about what you can realistically achieve.  So, instead, set yourself less onerous goals and exceed them, rather than setting more taxing goals that you struggle to achieve. This is a kinder and more effective psychology to build on and it will reap you dividends in building good home-working habits.

3 Have verbal contact twice or more on the first day of your week (if you have a weekly routine) then every day at least once. You’ll evolve a nice habit for when chat is helpful to you in the rhythm of your day. Chatting to others is motivating and arouses your senses that might be a bit un-exercised. Also don’t be afraid to ask people for things. Do this lots and people will ask you things back. Mutual help and positive networks are out there to be used.

4 Get up and move around every hour – set an alarm to make yourself do this. Do some vigorous stuff for a couple of minutes if you like.  I knew colleagues who did star jumps or other exercises for 2 minutes 3 or 4 times a day!  This is very little time,  but really good for the mind and body. However just a stretch and a wander is really good too.  You will find that this actually helps with productivity and creativity, as well as with your body and posture. You’ll find that you’ll have some great ideas in these slots when you are a little removed from work.

5 Always eat lunch away from your work – and….always eat lunch!! 🙂

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