How To Thrive While Working From Home

Working from home has fast become a new reality for many of us, with a possibility of this new style of working lasting for more than a month. Staying the distance - literally - will take imagination, commitment and tenacity. We’ve scoured the web to find the most useful tips for energising your mind, body and spirit during New Zealand's lockdown period.



1. Focus your Mind

Stick to routines
Start your day at your usual hour and stick to your more-or-less normal morning routine and rituals, or create new remote working ones (sans barista-made coffee). Avoid the onesies and PJs and opt for more ‘brunch casual’ to keep a semi-professional state of mind, particularly for work Zoom conference calls. And brush your teeth! These subtle actions will elevate productivity and future proof work habits.


Take breaks
To stay focussed, don’t work for hours on end. Instead break up a one hour time slot into 50 minutes with a 10 minute “break” (some people prefer 90 minute blocks). This can be a bathroom stop, filling up the water bottle, popping on the kettle, walking around the block and grabbing fresh air, breathing deeply, reading a magazine, picking feijoas or even standing up to watch a TEDTalk. Ideally, step away from the computer if you can to get the legs active.

Dr Habit, Dr Rebecca Stafford, says that setting an alarm in 50 minute increments stops procrastination and creates a sense of urgency for work tasks as the clock ticks down. Then your ten minute break becomes a deserved reward. Readdle Calendars can help map out your day.


Use productivity and team communication apps
Figure.NZ has been working as a remote business since February 2019 and its tips for teams working from home are tried and tested. Apps like Trello, Asana, Monday and Slack help teams communicate effectively and stick to tasks with no overlap, Shift helps productivity, and Harvest helps timing each task and tallying the week of work. Find more team productivity apps here.


Stay motivated
Use down time to stay motivated with podcasts like Stanford's Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, Tim Ferriss, Mixergy, or RISE. Or websites like Masterclass and Unfiltered for access to some of the world’s best minds. Learn how to invent the next Allbirds or write a Dan Brown thriller. To avoid a rut, reach out to New Zealand small business experts on Manaaki created to help people navigate Covid-19. And to follow global business and tech news as they navigate Coronavirus, sign up for The Hustle daily emails.


2. Support your Body

Get ergonomic
With no stairs to climb or meetings to go to, working from home is a largely static affair, so it’s time to get ergonomic. Reap the benefits of a standing desk by working at your kitchen bench or breakfast bar. If you sit at a desk or dining table, pay attention to ergonomics and posture that will support your spine, neck and wrists. Try sitting on a Swiss ball if you have one. And if you’re working with a laptop and monitor, raise your monitor on books and keep it an arm’s length away. It may be too late, but if you can whip into work and grab an office chair (and monitor), do it!


Set up a workspace
Ideally set up a dedicated work space to work at everyday (no couch or bed!) to support daily productivity and focus. Keep it clean and free from clutter and dirty dishes. Encourage few interruptions from your Bubble Buddies by setting boundaries. Leave your workstation at your usual hour and don’t let work time spill into family or personal time.


Switch off social media notifications
Limit social media to your ten minute breaks and switch off notifications on phone, laptop and tablets. Similarly with news. While it’s tempting to stay up to date, it’s a wormhole that could shave hours off your day and leave you feeling fearful and behind in work.


Keep active
If you exercise first thing or at the end of the day, stick to it. If you’re used to gyms or group exercise, there are hundreds of online workouts. Sign up to Les Mills On Demand, also playing on TVNZ On Demand, try a new yoga class, or F45 for free or a small fee. Your local trainers might be posting workouts for half price or koha too. Get outside to for a walk, run, stretch or yoga to soak up vitamin D. Track workout progress on apps like Map My Run.


3. Centre your spirit

Find the funny
Staying calm, positive, connected and focussing on the benefits of working from home over the weeks to come is crucial. Thankfully when we do allow ourselves some time online and on social media, we’ll find it awash with hilarious memes, quotes and videos. While this global pandemic is alarming, it’s proven to be fertile ground for the comedians among us. So tickle your funny bones, and take time out for a laugh.


Stay connected
Covid-19 is no barrier to Friday after work drinks by changing ‘social distancing’ to ‘distance socialising’. Join your friends on Zoom or a Google hangout to make Quarantinis and banter about the week that was. Glengarry and Premium Liquor are offering contact-free delivery services during lockdown too.


Keep calm
Being calm makes for better decision making, focus and restful sleep so now is the ideal time to introduce meditation into your day. Instead of going it alone, try using popular apps like Calm, The Mindfulness App, or Headspace.



Plus - keep the kids occupied with these 10 cool things for kids:

1. Sign up and practice science at home with Nanogirl’s Lab

2. Unleash your inner musician with Yousician

3. Have fun with these art and craft ideas from Kidspot

4. Discover dinosaurs and mummies at the Smithsonian

5. Try out PBS Kids, Funbrain or with 100s of learning games

6. Build kiddie financial literacy

7. Tune into live cams at San Diego Zoo

8. Enjoy museum and art gallery virtual tours

9. Revisit all the wacky and wonderful characters in David Walliams' books in The World of David Walliams

10. Get messy kneading this perfect sourdough recipe


Whatever you do, stay safe. Kia kaha everyone. And see you soon.