House Portraits

Tuesday 31 March 2020

Stay at Home: Working From Home Tips

It's been a fun couple of years since I gave up my employed job in a design studio and went to full time working at home. It suits me perfectly - I am definitely more introvert than extrovert and love to be at home. However, I know it's not for everyone and some aspects have taken some getting used to, even for me. So for all those out there who are new to working from home while in lockdown, here are some tips I have found along the way...

Working from home tips
(Please click on the images to zoom in)

Variety is the spice of life and we're going to need all the variety we can get over the next few months. Your usual listening habits might want a shake up to help with your new routine, and you might find you miss a bit of background office chit chat.

I have grown to like listening to people talk on Radio 4 (Woman's Hour being my favourite, obviously), however, I have temporarily given this up - the radio is no longer my friend. The regular news updates and in-depth discussions relating to Covid-19 were making it difficult for me to concentrate - and even 6 Music (my other favourite station) still reminds you what's going on in the world every half an hour.

If you're feeling like this too and are yet to discover podcasts, then now is your time! Whether it's light conversation or geeking out on your favourite topic, there's a podcast for everyone out there. There are a lot of creative business podcasts I like to listen to when I'm feeling alert and open to soaking up information, but I also listen to shows about cooking, comedy and even crime if I want to give my brain a break. If I want something totally relaxing and not as distracting as music I'd want to sign to, then I put on some Disney instrumental (lots of playlists on Spotify).

The best bits of your new morning routine might come with you
when the lockdown is over.

My new morning routine has been one of the most life changing benefits of working from home. For all the years I was studying and working, I just never mastered an antidote to running out of the house in a blind panic every single morning. Putting my feet up and taking time over breakfast has had such a positive effect on my day.

If they become habit, whatever new things you try have a good chance of fitting into your life easier than they did before, when things goes back to normal. Nowadays, if I have to get out of the house first thing for an appointment or meeting, I still allow time for a little chill session over breakfast, rather than going back to my old bad habits and running round in a frenzy.

Little ways to separate work from play, to help maintain balance

By all means, do your work in your PJ's just because you can for the first week or so. But, it's age old advice that wearing proper clothes makes you feel more productive.

I find separating work time from rest time really important for feeling balanced and I've come up with a few ways for myself to do this. Some may sound pointless or over the top, but it's little ways to train my brain to distinguish whether I'm in relaxing mode or not. Here are some of them:

Putting 'work stuff' out of sight when it's time to switch off, even if it's just my sketchbook.
Trying to stay in a habit of finishing at around the same time each day. It stops me feeling like I should be working when I'm having time off.
Not listening to business related podcasts on a weekend, even if I have to work (which I try to avoid).
Watching a studio vlog on Youtube when I eat breakfast, helping my brain shift into productive work mode.
Watching a short programme (comedy, usually) at dinner time.
Not looking at my phone over dinner, so I can have a short but total switch off.

Moving to a different space to change your mood

I realise that working in different places around the house isn't a luxury available to everyone, and going back to the separation thing, it's good to have one designated work space. However, if you're just having one of those days and something's not working, it can help to shake things up and move out of your usual space. I often start on a new client project on the sofa, as it helps to loosen me up and feel more relaxed about playing with ideas.

Unless you usually have a hot plate at work, you can rejoice
in all the possibilities that a pan can bring to lunchtime!

Just like much of the internet abled world, I have been on more video chats lately than I ever had in my life. I've had family meet ups with my mum and siblings and a pub quiz with friends. It could be a super effective way of keeping your colleagues/team connected too - my partner has been on some 'work socials' - which involves him pouring himself a pint and laughing with his work buddies on camera about anything that's not work related.

You can read a little more about the reward chart I created for myself in this earlier post on finding work life balance.

Reminding yourself to move and stretch may sound obvious, but you might be surprised by the weird aches and pains you can get when you stop moving around throughout the day, when you commuted or took regular little walks to the toilets, water cooler or canteen... if the lockdown has made you feel compelled to fit extra exercise into your life, then fingers crossed, you're creating a new habit to take with you when life goes 'back to normal'. I am hoping this applies to me, as I've purchased some running shoes with the intention to take up running. So... wish me luck!

Monday 16 March 2020

SPOT ILLUSTRATIONS for The Baby Feeding Book

Some recent illustrations I made for The Baby Feeding Book by Vanessa Christie from The Parent and Baby Clinic published by Piatkus at Little, Brown Book Group. The illustrations were to be friendly and warm, a little quirky, light and humorous. The image with the two hills is my favourite - showing an expectant mum feeling determined as she mentally prepares for breastfeeding!