In the last week, the coronavirus situation in the UK has become more
extreme. As of Friday, all state schools in the United Kingdom have shut, many people are being asked to self-isolate, either for their protection or for the protection of others and many offices, shops and restaurants have shut. As a freelance translator, I have a lot of experience of working from home and, having been house-bound for a few months last year due to my IBS, I have a lot of experience keeping myself entertained at home. As such, I wanted to share my tips with you on how to work from home and how to cope with self-isolation!
Working from Home
If you’ve never worked from home before, then it may seem quite daunting. With the TV, your kitchen and all manner of other distractions at your disposal, procrastination is inevitable. Try not to beat yourself up too much about this, but here are some tips to help built that procrastination and be as productive as possible.
Set a schedule
A schedule will really help you to keep on track and maintain an air of normality. However, this does not have to match your normal schedule at work. Realistically, not everyone is super productive between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Use this as an opportunity to find out when you’re most productive. For me, I know I work best 10am-6pm so that’s when my work hours are. Make sure you stick to it! It can be really easy to fall into the trap of being constanttly ‘on’ when you work from home, but rest time is important to!
Make a to do list
There internet is full of productivity tips and a thousand different ways to structure your day. When I was first starting out as a freelancer, I found Jordan Page’s ‘Block Scheduling’ to be invaluable and it may work for you too, but now I just write a list of what I need to do on my whiteboard. I try to be realistic about how long each task will take me and how much I can get done in a day.
Break up your work day
You do not have to work solidly during your set work hours. Think about it – when you’re in the office, do you sit down and work for a solid eight hours? NO! You get up to make a cup of tea, go for a loo break, eat your lunch, chat to colleagues etc. Build some break times in your work schedule. If you’re feeling super unmotivated, you could try the pomodoro technique, which I mentioned in my DITL
blog. The basic premise is you set a timer for 25 mins, work on one task and then take a five minute break. You don’t have to stick to exact break times each day, but do make sure you build them in.
It can be so tempting when working from home to just work in your pyjamas. You don’t have to go anywhere, so what’s the point in getting dressed, right? Wrong! You will feel so much better if you maintain basic hygiene practices, including getting ready in the morning. It will make you feel like you’re still working to a normal routine.
Get out of the house, where you can
If you feel able, take a short walk around your area in your breaks! The fresh air is so good for you and exercise releases endorphins that will make you feel so much more productive!
Have a designated work space
As I work from home full-time, I have a workspace set up with a desk and second screen and various hard copy resources in my bedroom. This might not be feasible if you are only temporarily working from home, but snag a corner of your house, whether it’s a sofa, the dining room table or a space in a shed, and make it your own! Move a pot plant nearer, set up any electronics you need and keep a coaster handy for your cup of tea.
Keeping entertained during self-isolation
I now want to move away from your work hours and just talk about some things you can do to self-isolate as comfortably as possible.
Stick to a routine
As covered above, a routine is really going to help you feel normal. Make sure you get dressed, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, etc. As far as possible, maintain the routine that you had before the coronavirus outbreak.
There are so many fantastic books out there and they are a great form of escapism. You could pick something in translation or set in a different country to feel like you’re still able to travel, a fantasy book if you really want to escape from the current situation or a non-fiction book about a subject you’re interested in to get some learning in! Reading strengthens your brain, teaches you about different people and countries and cultures and keeps you from spending all of your time looking at a screen!
You can still order books online (support local bookshops where you can, many have online shops), download the Kindle app and get loads of classic books for free or other books very cheaply, or even download Audible and benefit from their free trial and listen to audiobooks while you get on with housework or exercise.
Take up a hobby
You could pick up a hobby you did as a child: brush off your flute, get out your cross-stitch or find your origami papers; or you could try something new! There are plenty of YouTube videos out there to get you started in all sorts of hobbies, such as drawing, knitting, crochet and more! Many of them won’t even need you to go out to get new resources, you can probably find what you need lying around your house.
If you can, get out in the fresh air for a walk or a run. Maybe you could even try the Couch to 5k finally! If you are self-isolating and don’t want to go outside, there are loads of apps and YouTube channels that walk you through various exercise routines, or you could even dust off your old fitness DVD.
You may not be able to get out and go and see your friends and family, but you can still make contact with them. Call your nan, FaceTime your uncle or Skype your school friend. A little human contact will go a long way to making you feel more comfortable.
You do not have to spend every minute of the day doing something productive. It is totally okay to spend an afternoon binge-watching a Netflix series (I’ve recently enjoyed The Stranger, Happy Valley and Messiah if you’re looking for recommendations), painting your nails, taking a bath or even scrolling your Facebook feed. Just avoid allowing yourself to spend the whole time being unproductive, as you probably won’t feel better for it. And avoid reading too much news – limit yourself to half an hour a day to prevent feeling like you’re stuck in a vicious cycle of negative news.
I hope these tips help! Let me know how you’re going to be spending this time in the comments below or find me on social media.