Dear Aunty Em: Working from home

“What are your top tips for those of us new to working at home on how to stay both productive and sane in our new home work environment?”
– Homeward bound

Dear Homeward Bound,

I could give you a list of helpful tips like exercise in the morning to clear your head and get rid of excess energy, keep your house clean so you’re not tempted to do procrastination housework, or meditate before you sit down to work.

But I’m not going to do that because you already know that shit.

What I need to tell you is the less obvious stuff.

Buy loads of stuff online

That way when the postman comes, they will come bearing gifts (that you paid for yourself but who cares? PACKAGES!).

Don’t start drinking before 5pm (or 4pm on a Friday)

Wait until 4.59pm to crack open the Chardonnay because you don’t have to drive home, meaning you can drink as much as you want. This is a bad or a good thing, depending on your stance on Tuesday night discos and pizza, when your intention was a Buddha bowl and an early night.

Spotify Premium

Best investment ever. Having Daily Mix 2 playing in the background will distract you from the crushing boredom and loneliness.

Upgrade Your Internet

You’ll already have an internet connection at home, but many residential options often aren’t up-to-par for running a work-from-home business. You’ll likely need to upgrade it at some point, with an FTTP internet being one of the better options. Consider upgrading as soon as you can so you don’t have anything to worry about.

Pack lunch

This sounds like a sensible tip, and it is. Why on earth would you make a salad and stick it in a Tupperware container when you’re sitting right next to the kitchen? Because you’re gonna get FAT. If you are home all the time with nothing to do but gaze into the fridge cutting chunks off a kilo of Tasty, your calorific intake will soar. You can eat as much crap as you like but if you make yourself a fibre-filled salad topped with protein, you will be too full to eat the entire block of cheese, you know what I’m saying?

Hang out the washing

If you don’t have an outdoor clothesline, manufacture a reason to go outside during the day. Pick up some dog poo. Water your pot plants. Gaze mindlessly at your gutters. Do something outside for at least ten minutes so when night comes, it’s not a surprise.


This is the greatest upside of working from home. Fall into a full blown pillow slobber, or have a little kip. Set an alarm if you think you’re going to sleep through a work call or meeting, but otherwise, shut those blinds and nap your heart out.

Don’t watch TV

Ignore everything else I’ve said but do not ignore this. Watching TV during the day is productivity suicide, especially if you’re watching something compelling like The House of Saddam or Broadchurch. You’re going to want to know what happens when Saddam invades Kuwait, or what Olivia Colman quips to grumpy David Tennant.

OK, here’s another sensible piece of advice – Stick to your normal work hours. Don’t let work blur into nights and weekends. Definitely sleep in if you’re missing a commute but don’t start sleeping until midday because you’ll start to feel like a uni student really quickly. Same goes with knocking off work. Pack up your laptop and stick to your normal evening routine, regardless of how much work is waiting to be done. Do it tomorrow. Develop a ritual that signals the end of the day like walking the dog, or mixing yourself a hefty G&T and reading a trash mag.

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