My WFH Safe Space:10 Tips to Survive In Lockdown
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
It’s been exactly 10 days since being told to pack up our things at Kaizen and leave the London office to WFH for the foreseeable future. There we were, packing up everything we could grab, from monitors to mystery wires. Across London you could see commuters holding onto huge bags full of work stuff, with it all feeling slightly weird that for many of us, it was our last journey out of the city for a while.
It seems like an eternity since last Monday when Boris advised the nation to work from home. No more rushing every morning to make a flask of coffee, and no daily morning sprint to catch the train in just a few sweaty seconds - though somehow I still manage to just about make it to work on time, with my commute being from the bedroom to the kitchen...
As a Digital PR, I am extremely grateful for how easy it is for me to be able to work from home when the likes of a coronavirus apocalypse is upon us. Many of us are able to work from home as a perk of our jobs, which is a lot more than other industries, who face more challenges in adapting in this period of uncertainty. But working from home for all of us has its challenges, from practical issues such as the unreliable Wi-Fi, the noisy parents that love to ignore the fact you are on a call and ask if you want a cup of tea, to other, less tangible, aspects such as loneliness, feelings of suffocation, claustrophobia and stress (I don’t know about you but anyone else slightly worried about getting links for certain clients at the moment?!).
So below, I have provided my top tips for creating a healthy and positive safe space when you are working from home.
No. 1 - Fresh air from the moment you wake up is literally everything
I can't stress enough the importance of fresh air, from the moment you open your eyes and wake up for the day. I am no scientist, but I know that the first thing I do in the morning is open my blinds and get that natural breeze coming through the window, with it instantly lifting my mood and getting me ready for the day. I love it, and I don’t think I could get through the day without it.
Whatever the weather or season, crisp, cool air from the outdoors will wake you up, and get you feeling fresh for the day. Opening the window, you’ll hear life getting on with its day as well, from cars driving down the road to trees rustling - this is a great motivation that it’s time for you to get on with your day as well.
After staring at a screen for a few hours, and feeling the walls closing in on you (we have all been there and it's crap), fresh air is a great solution. Opening the window, or taking a quick step outside will instantly take you away from that feeling, with the air snapping you back into shape to get your brain going again.
No. 2 - Natural light is also everything
Along with fresh air, natural light is something that is essential to my everyday life and is crucial in helping me work from home as best I can. I would take a small room with a big window any day over a big room with no windows at all.
Creating a space in your home where you can work that has plenty of access to natural light will improve your mood dramatically and keep you going throughout the day (again I am no expert, this is from personal experience). I strive to feel calm and balanced and in the best mindset to be able to work efficiently - and natural light is one of those vital needs.
If working by a window all day isn’t practical, can you take half an hour with your laptop to do some work in an area where you are closer to natural light? Or perhaps you can have lunch by the window or even outside to recuperate your energies ready for the afternoon.
No. 3 - Finish on time
For many of us, working from home has suddenly provided us with much more time on our hands as we aren’t spending hours in our car or on a train commuting to and from work. For me, I save about three hours each day by working from home.
There have been lots of positives from ditching the commute, from having a lie in (number one!), saving money and reducing my carbon footprint. But one thing I have noticed is that I find it much harder to stop working at my usual time.
When working from home, it gets to 5:30 and I know I shouldn’t actually be home until just before 7. So I have a gap and I don’t know how to fill it, meaning I ended up working later in the first few days of being at home last week.
From feeling a bit frazzled and having to check my eyes to make sure they hadn’t turned square (this is a myth, by the way), I have now got into a better routine of finishing on time and creating a new way of filling my commute time.
Working from home is going to take time for all of us to adapt to on a longer-term basis. We are going to be doing this for at least three weeks so we need to get into a healthy habit each day that works for us. If you’re having the same issues of working later than usual, try and cut it back each day by 15 minutes. Trust me, it feels so good when you’re finished and prancing around at 5:30pm ready to take your free evening by storm.
No. 4 - Laugh
There is no better medicine than laughing, and in what can be a daunting period of time like this, it is important you try and let your hair down and see the funny side of things from time to time. If Harry Potter can laugh with Ron and Hermione even though he knew he had to die to make the world live, then we can laugh during this time too.
Taking a moment to laugh with family and friends will leave you feeling lighter, even if it is just for a moment. And if you are in the unfortunate situation where none of your family or friends are funny, turn to YouTube and search for your favourite comedian.
Even though I know the blue light isn’t good for me, whenever I can’t sleep, or am feeling on edge, I will have James Acaster or Joe Lycett clips on, as I know it is an instant remedy. Give it a go, not just at night but at any time during the day for 10 minutes of relief.
No. 5 - Help family, friends and strangers if you can
The coronavirus has caused anxiety in many families across the globe. In my own family, I have a brother with asthma, and a grandma turning 90 on the 31st March who cannot leave the house without one of us assisting her.
As the youngest in the family, and with no children or real responsibility, I was able to do a shop for four family households including my grandma, auntie, sister and her family and my mum. I went to two supermarkets to get supplies (no stockpiling of course), and then dropped everything off outside their doorstep.
I had nothing else to do on a Saturday afternoon, and helping all my family out with essential items they were running out was probably one of the highlights of my year. Even better than the feeling of getting a link.
Whether it’s helping with supplies or simply just dropping a text to someone that might be lonely, vulnerable or struggling in this confusing situation, it will do the world of good for them and also for yourself to take some time out of your day for them.
If you want to help a stranger during this time, from keeping someone company over the phone or delivering essentials to their home, sign up to the NHS Volunteer Responders here: https://www.goodsamapp.org/nhs
No. 6 - Treat yo’self
Isolation is hard for many of us, and for me there is nothing better than a little bit of retail therapy every now and then to perk you up.
10 months ago, I decided that every payday, I would go to Boots and buy myself a nail varnish, to start creating my own collection. As the youngest, I was forever the child that stole their older sister’s makeup - so now it was my turn to have something of my own and be proud of my own varnish collection.
This is just an example of something small that I’ve been doing for the past year nearly that makes me feel good.
Since being in isolation, I have bought a chess set and my sister has lent me some of her favourite books. Through these little purchases and gifts, I have created my own happy place during this period of time that I can escape to.
No. 7 - Take a moment to think about others
With more time on our hands, many of us have had more time to reflect and think about what’s going on, and more importantly how it is affecting others. People that have been hit hard by this are our neighbours, family members, fellow people on Twitter. They are right on our doorstep.
Just taking a moment to think about why we are doing this, and how much worse off you could be is really important to put things into perspective and help you get through the day if you are finding being stuck indoors difficult.
Most mornings, before I go on any digital device, I have a quick think about three things I’m grateful for. They usually end up being my grandma (because she is the best), my niece, my family, and the fact that I’ve been in quarantine with my boyfriend for 10 days now and we are still getting along. Sometimes, it can be the most mundane thing, like having a bagel for breakfast. But just taking a moment to think about what you’re grateful for and putting things into perspective, will help settle and ground you during what can be a hysterical time for many of us.
No. 8 - Get round to doing that thing you always say you will
For many of us in the industry, we eat, sleep and breathe PR. We are on Twitter before, during and after work interacting with each other and it is undoubtedly a really special community to be a part of. For many of my friends, they don’t have that closeness that we all feel with each other online and it’s something we should be thankful for during this time.
But as shocking as this might be to say, life does exist outside of PR, SEO and our jobs, and these next few weeks are the perfect opportunity for us to explore our other interests and hobbies, digital or not.
Reading is a classic one and for me I find it hard to fit in a few pages each day in the busy life of going to work each day. At the weekend, I committed myself to reading at all times of the day, whenever I had a spare second, and I’ve managed to get the bug again. If you can relate to this and want to get into the huge pile of books staring at you beyond your phone or laptop as you read this, give it a go, and then another go, and try and make a habit out of it ready to use once we come out the other side of all of this.
Other hobbies I’ve taken up is colouring, walking, and getting back into my piano practise. With all these things though, don't put pressure on yourself, because you don’t need that in your life - for example I’ve got into reading and colouring far quicker than getting back into the piano. It’s a work in progress and that’s ok - I have been telling myself to do yoga the past three mornings but instead I’ve been lying with a miracle ball underneath me for about 15 minutes instead (which I also highly recommend!)
No. 9 - Most importantly, please, please, stay indoors, stay safe
No. 10 - And keep working on your WFH safe space
Any questions or tips, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org