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8 tips for working from home

Here at Outdoor Swimmer we are experts at working from home. You might imagine that we have a big office with its own swimming pool, but in reality we are an independent publisher and Outdoor Swimmer magazine is created by a small team working from home or in workspaces and cafes. If you are now working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, here is the benefit of my experience of editing Outdoor Swimmer magazine from my kitchen table for four years to help you work productively and happily.

1. Dress like a boss

Tempting though it is to work in bed or lie on the sofa in your pants, you won’t get much work done. Believe me I have tried. So set your alarm and get up at normal time, shower, get dressed in proper clothes, have your breakfast, take a walk outside if you can (to separate your home and work life), then start work at your usual time. Wearing proper clothes makes a huge difference – it is too tempting to slink back to bed or the sofa if you are wearing your jim-jams.

2. Be like Dolly

Tempting though it might be to start work at 10am, take a four hour lunch break, and finish at midnight, it is best to stick to a 9 to 5 routine. You will be in sync with your colleagues and you will have a better separation between work and home life, which will become increasingly important if isolated at home.

3. Find your space

If you are lucky, you might have a spare room with a desk where you can work. If possible, separate your home life from your work life. If you don’t have the luxury of a spare room, set yourself up at the kitchen table. Natural light is good, I am lucky to have a view of trees out of the window in front of me. If like me you don’t have a dedicated room where you can work, I find it helpful mentally to clear away my work things (laptop, notebook, lists etc) every evening, otherwise your kitchen or sitting room will start to feel like your office.

4. Lists are your friends

Working from home I find it really useful to have a daily list of things to do – it gives shape to your day and is motivating as you cross off a task. It can also be useful to give your day a structure, eg, in the morning work on such-and-such a project, spend an hour catching up with emails, spend the afternoon in conference calls. For my lists, I don’t worry if I don’t achieve everything – they are rolling lists, so anything not done moves to the next day. There are also online scheduling and collaboration tools available – we use Asana. It is really helpful to plan and schedule projects when working remotely.

5. Keep away from Jessica Fletcher

Murder She Wrote Feat 1 2
Working from home, Jessica Fletcher style

Daytime TV. If you haven’t watched daytime TV since you were a student, there is a whole new world of distractions. I, however, can be easily ensnared by old favourites – I start watching one episode of Murder, She Wrote and three hours later I am still in Cabot Cove. So keep away from the TV and save those box sets for after work.

6. Take a break

Working from home, it is important to take breaks as you would in an office – although you can no longer gossip with Sue from accounts, you can give her a quick call. Sometimes we have a team coffee break where we take 15 minutes for work-free chat on Skype. Take your lunch break as you would do in your office and get some fresh air if you can.

7. Keep in touch

Without the social interaction of an office it can be hard to keep focus. Regular video calls, either one-on-one or as a team, will help keep you motivated and give you the chance to bounce ideas off each other as you would do in an office. Thinking creatively can be very difficult on your own, so pick up the phone and call a colleague – it is never time wasted. Ploughing on in your own little furrow is rarely productive, reach out and collaborate with your colleagues as you would during your normal office day. There are loads of ways to connect remotely: Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Whatsapp or an old fashioned telephone call.

8. Dress up your dog

Because, why not? It is important to have fun during the day and a bit of light relief will help you work more productively for the rest of your working hours.

Beans helping test all the latest swimming kit.
Beans helping test all the latest swimming kit.
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Jonathan is a year-round skins swimmer with a particular love of very cold water. He has competed in ice swimming competitions around the world. He is a qualified open water coach with a particular love of introducing new swimmers to the open water.