As the UK heads into a second lockdown, many of us are still working from home. For lots of people, this year has been the first time they have had to work from home, and it’s been a steep learning curve. For the second lockdown, many people are worried about working at home over the winter, as the weather drives up electricity and heating costs, and the ability to spend time outside is reduced.
Here are some tips to work from home over winter, whether your office is closed or you’ve started a side hustle.
Cut Power Costs
As the days get darker and colder, working from home means the lights and the heating are on for more of the day than they would be if everyone was out of the house at school or in the office. This pushes up your electricity and heating bills.
There are some ways that you can cut these costs. Only heat and light the room you are using during the day, rather than turning up the radiators all over the house. Invest in warm clothing, blankets, or other cosy extras to keep your snug while you work.
You may also be able to claim back some of your costs on your taxes. Self-employed people have always been able to do this, but after the last lockdown, a tax rebate became available to many more who had to work from home. See if you’re eligible here.
If you’re concerned about a power outage, you could consider diesel generators to keep you powered and working.
If the weather is cold and wet, going outside might not seem very appealing, but if you’re living and working in the same place, it is important to get outside at least occasionally. Wrap up warm and take a walk at lunchtime, even if you only stroll to the corner shop to buy lunch or walk to pick up a takeaway coffee. Having a break from the indoors and getting some fresh air and sunlight is very important for mental health, so make time for it. At the weekend, you can get outside more. Plan an outside activity with the family, even if it’s only a visit to the local play area with the children.
Let In Light
The reduced hours of daylight can make us feel sluggish, tired, and unhappy. Try to get as much natural light as you can. Position your desk near a window, and get the curtains open as soon as you get up. When it’s gloomy outside, it’s tempting to leave curtains closed, but this blocks out the light. Get them open and get all the light you can.
If it’s still gloomy inside, you can brighten up your workspace with lamps. While not the same as natural light, it’s better for your mind than sitting in the gloom.
Add some houseplants to your workspace. Plants breathe life into an area and can help to reduce stress and anxiety during your workday. Even when everything is brown and bare outside, it can make you feel much better to have something green and living to look at. Succulents are excellent low maintenance options for desks.
Get Me Time
With no obvious divide between work and home, it can be tough to maintain your work-life balance. However good your intentions are, it can be easy to find yourself answering emails late in the evening, or working over-time because you can’t go out anywhere. By doing this, you put yourself at risk of becoming burnt out. By taking time for yourself, you protect your mental health and will have more energy to put into your work hours, making you better at your job. Work your usual hours, and restrict the extra time you put in. Take a lunch break. Shut down your computer when you’re finished for the day, and turn off work alerts for emails on your phone, so you’re not tempted to quickly check notifications and end up getting sucked back into working.
Try To Eat Well
When you’re working so close to your own fridge, snacking is a big temptation, especially when the weather is cold and the urge to comfort eat is strong. A poor diet will make you feel rubbish, so try to make your snacking healthy if you know you can’t resist it. Take the time for a proper meal at lunchtime, and remember to drink plenty of water, not just endless cups of coffee!