Home Office – Hints ‘n’ Tips

How many of you have dreamed of working from home?

I can sleep in, be a little lazy, not get dressed, take a break when I want, sneak a movie in maybe… The list goes on!

The reality is, working from home is not all it is made out to be. It can, for some, be a terrible experience.

I have been working for myself for over 25-years and pretty much in all that time I have worked remotely, be that in my home, a hotel or yes, even on a beach.

Working remotely has many benefits BUT it requires dedication, will power and some strategies in place to make it an efficient, productive and enjoyable time.

My favourite office.

The secret is ROUTINE but having flexibility in that routine to gain from some of the benefits that having a home office brings.

ROUTINE

Firstly, do you need to work at specific times? This is particularly important for example, if you need to be available on email or phone in specific work hours. If the answer here is yes, then you will have a start and end time to structure your day around.

However, if your working day is more flexible, this is when working from home can give you some real benefits.

Let’s assume your working hours are normally 8-hours per day plus 1-hour in breaks. Also, let us consider if you would normally have commute time to an office job with working hours, 0900 – 1800. If you had to get up at 0700, to leave home at 0800 to commute 1-hour to the office and then still have a 1-hour commute at the end of the day, with home offering you have already gained 2-hours with no commuting – result!

Photo ©jannyka

But you need regular hours:

  • Set a start time – let us say 0900
  • Set a finish time – let us say 1800
  • Set breaks and a lunch break – 1030 for 15min / 1230 for 30min / 1500 for 15min

By getting up at your ‘normal’ time, 0700, you easily gain 1-hour free time for indoor exercise/ admin/ children time or whatever it may be.

Equally, at 1800 if you would normally commute home for 1-hour, you can use this time as free personal time.

You can use an APP to keep you honest:

Toggl: Time Tracker for Work HERE

RescueTime – For ideal work-life balance HERE

But, remember, the time is your own, you work the day to suit you, for example, you could start your work day at 0700 and be finished by 1500 hours, and in the process you create a chunk of free time you did not have before.

SET GROUND RULES

It’s easy to say as working from home as an opportunity to say in pajamas and be a slob all day. Why this ‘may’ work for some, from experience I have found it a much greater idea to pretend that you are still going to the office.

  • Set an alarm to wake.
  • Have breakfast.
  • Enjoy additional free time – maybe walk/ exercise/ write/ spend time with family?
  • Shower
  • Dress for work, albeit, one can be more casual.
  • Start work on time.

By setting the above ground rules for yourself, you will have an opportunity to make sure you have a productive workday.

WORKING SPACE

The size of your home will depend on what options are available. However, best practice is to designate a place that is the ‘office.’ It’s all too easy to use the kitchen table, but daily life and other people can get in the way. Ideally, a separate room with a desk, and separate phone is the perfect scenario. Consider a standing desk, they are really a great way to work and better for you. Many options are available and for example, adjustable ones can be lowered providing an opportunity to sit down as and when required.

©Desk by Ikea that adjusts from seating and standing.

HIIT

If you want to keep fit, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is something that can be incorporated easily in a daily routine, especially when working for home. You could do, 1,2,3 or even 4 sessions of 10-minutes each. In simple terms, HIIT is all about working as hard as possible for a short period of time. Depending on the individual and current fitness levels, sessions would vary, however, a starting place would be as follows:

  • Burpees
  • Push Ups
  • High Knees
  • Jump Lunges
  • Knee Raises
  • Skipping

You perform each of the above with 10 reps aiming for them to be completed in a window of 30-seconds and if possible, you will have 10-seconds rest in each 30-second block. For the skipping, you skip for 20-seconds and rest for 10.

So, the above is 3-minutes to complete, you could aim for 3 sets with a total time of 9-minutes. In your schedule you could plan this to happen before breakfast, morning break, lunch break and afternoon break. Suddenly you have 4 sets of 9-minutes with a total HIIT time of 36-minutes. A great way to burn calories, increase metabolism, get healthy both in body and mind.

Struggle for motivation? There are many online platforms and phone apps that you can use as guides and you can even set alarms. Options HERE

Here is an alternative:

  1. Jumping Jack
  2. Wall Sit
  3. Push Up
  4. Crunch
  5. Step Up
  6. Squat
  7. Tricep Dip
  8. Plank
  9. High Knees
  10. Lunge
  11. Push Up with Rotation
  12. Side Plank

The above is the 7-minute workout as listed on ‘Greatist’ HERE – “Grab a timer or download a stopwatch app. Perform the exercises in order, completing as many reps of each as you can in 30 seconds. Be sure not to compromise form for speed. Rest for 5 seconds between exercises. To make this work out even more challenging, complete the circuit 2 or 3 times in a row.”

RULES

If you are flying solo, the only rules are with yourself. However, if you are living with a partner, are married, have children; then you need rules so that your work time is sacred. It’s all too easy to get distracted and pulled away from work because situations in the home happen.

Don’t shortchange yourself from breaks and lunch. It’s easy to just work and work. Time away from the computer is good for the mind and it allows you to freshen up and gain some perspective. Work productivity benefits from time away.

PHONE AND VPN

Having a separate work phone is a great idea and this avoids situations of personal life impacting on one’s work time. Also, a VPN is a great addition. Many apps exist that allows you to connect to a secure network and if required, you can change location to enable you to work more productively and safely.

MEETINGS AND SOCIAL INTERACTION

Working from home can be lonely and usually it is for a specific type of person. However, in these modern times, there are many ways that one can interact with colleagues and still have social interaction. Many communication methods now offer the ability to use FaceTime where one can use the camera on a laptop or phone to not only show a caller yourself, but also so you can see the person you are talking too. This can be a huge boost to your day. Consider looking at Skype, WhatsApp and Viber amongst others.

DISCIPLINE

The downfall of working from home is a lack of discipline. There is no need to be hard on oneself, but equally, do not be too soft. It takes focus to get a job done from an unconventional space. However, once you have managed to do this at home, you will soon find that an office can be anywhere in the world and yes, that can mean a hotel.

END THE DAY

When one works from home, it is very easy for the day to continue because it is easy… There is no commute and the office is always at hand. Set a finish time and stick with it. Finish. Close the office door and then do not enter until the following morning at your pre-planned start time.

GET OUT

Finding time outside is particularly important when home is also the office. The need for fresh air, some sun and getting at least 30-minutes of moving/ exercise is essential for the mind and not only the body. Remember, working from home will give you more time, so, plan a pre-work session, maybe a lunch walk and/or a post workday exercise regimen. Make it personal. Find out what works for you! Spend more time with the people that matter!

SOCIALISE

It’s important to interact with people, especially when works from home. So, make sure you take opportunities to dine out, meet for drinks and/ or enter a club or gym. Maybe you have always fancied an evening class but could never find the time?

FINALLY

Working from a home office is a real luxury. If you make it personal, you will find that after the breaking in period of two to four weeks, you will never be able to go back! The freedom a home office brings is truly special. The flexibility, the extra hours gained, the opportunity to be fully in control of your own space is something quite special.

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Episode 184 – Stephen Goldstein Ph.D

Episode 184 of Talk Ultra is a Covid-19 special with Stephen Goldstein Ph.D. who is currently a postdoctoral researcher associated at the University of Utah Department of Human Genetics studying viral evolution, including the evolution and origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
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 Race Cancellations and Covid-19 HERE

Covid-19 : A Simple Guide HERE

 
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CORONAVIRUS disease COVID-19 basic advice

COVID-19 aka CORONAVIRUS is creating chaos and panic over the world and rightly so. For sure, the media has taken hold of it and created a scenario of fear, however, after SARS respecting any potential pandemic is no bad thing.

I am not a medical expert but I travel and I travel a great deal. With much of my work taking places at races, public gatherings and in locations throughout Europe and beyond, I wanted to understand what I was dealing with and pass on my thoughts.

I was in Hong Kong in January for a race. As I landed and transferred to meet the RD for dinner, the race was cancelled… Yes, the virus and reaction to it was changing by the hour.

I decided to cut my trip short, escape Hong Kong and return to the UK so that it would not impact on future work.

As February comes to a close, the situation is now greater than one month ago with the virus appearing in New Zealand, Italy and many more locations.

The Virus

CDC have listed several points on the virus:

  • The virus is spread mainly person-to-person.
  • Between people in close contact, less than 6-feet.
  • Via respiratory droplets when coughing or sneezing by an infected person.
  • Touching surfaces or an object that has the virus on it – this is then passed on when the person then touches eyes, nose or mouth.
  • It appears that people who are infected are most contagious when at their sickest.
  • Some virus spreading may be possible before people show symptoms.

You will have seen many images coming from China and Hong Kong showing everyone wearing masks. Do not be fooled into thinking this is a completely safe thing to do – masks have issues and problems:

You only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person WITH the virus.

Wear a mask if YOU are coughing and sneezing, this stops potential spreading.

Masks are only effective when combined with frequent hand cleansing.

Masks MUST be worn correctly and changed regularly.

Tips for mask use:

  • Clean hands with alcohol based cleanser.
  • Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps.
  • Do not touch the mask whilst wearing, if you do, cleanse hands.
  • If mask becomes damp, replace.When removing mask, do not touch the front, remove from behind and discard immediately.

As a runner or endurance athlete, the last thing we want is a virus that impacts on breathing. Covid-19 needs to be respected, despite what you may think about the media and its scaremonger tactics.

Cases are now reaching close to 100,000 and the situation is changing daily.

Incubation period is up to two weeks and this is why the virus is spreading worldwide, it is so difficult to track and contain. Once a positive case is found, it is too late as more will be infected and then the reverse pyramid scenario starts.

What can you do?

Look after personal hygiene.

Avoid public places and gatherings.

When traveling, avoid travel through highly infected areas. Particularly important for long-haul travel. Much better to pass through the Middle East (for now) than pass through China, Hong Kong or Bangkok.

Face masks have a place but understand the restrictions that they have.

Public toilets, bars, restaurants etc etc are a potential perfect storm for passing on the virus, so, avoid in areas of potential or real risk.

As I write, the W.H.O says we are at a ‘Decisive Point’ in the outbreak.

Cases in the UK have risen (19) and New Zealand, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Nigeria have announced first cases. The stock markets across the globe have plunged under the fear of recession. Cases have been confirmed above 84,000 and currently 2867 deaths (sources The Independent and Worldometers)

The Swiss government has banned events with more than 1000 people and already we have seen mass participation events cancelled globally.

NBC has confirmed the virus has spread to at least 40 countries worldwide. It says cases in the USA have been limited but warns, “Americans should prepare for the spread of the virus in communities.”

Ultimately, COVID-19 currently is spreading, we personally need to be aware of risks and mitigate as appropriate. With each passing day, more news comes in and it can be terrifying but let’s keep perspective too, the common Flu can kill up to 646,000 people per year (medicinenet.com) – the figure coming from the US Centers for Disease Control.

So, be careful out there and keep a perspective of the risk, start to do the following now:

Wash hands frequently.

Maintain social distancing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

Feel unwell, seek medical advice immediately.

Do not cough or sneeze in public.

Be safe!

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