Interiors guru and writer Kate Watson-Smyth gives you her best tips on how to successfully work from home.

1. You need to make a dedicated work space

This is key if you are likely to be working from home for any length of time and, let’s be honest, at this stage none of us know how long the current situation is likely to last. It’s all very well to prop the lap top on your knees and type in bed till lunch time but that’s a one-off Saturday morning shopping kind of vibe. If you are to be properly productive you need to create a space that, as much as anything, makes you think “work” and puts you in the right frame of mind when you see it.

If you don’t have room for a dedicated home office but have to work in your bedroom, or your sitting room or kitchen, then you need to find ways of switching between working and living moods.

Have a box with all your work stuff in it. This can absolutely include a small plant and a special “office” mug and water bottle. Lay this out on your coffee or kitchen table when you start work for the day. And then, crucially, put it all away afterwards and return the coffee table books or lay the table for supper so that you instantly change the mood. This is your new commute; switching the scene from home to work and back again every day.

Follow Kate for great tips on  creating an inspirational working space from home.

The dining room could be your office as long as it's a space where you feel productive.

2. Get Dressed

It’s so tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day and not wear any make-up but as someone who has worked at home for 20 years, I know I am much more productive when I am dressed as if I was going to work. This doesn’t have to mean a suit and heels and, at the moment, when Zoom meetings are a regular part of the working day, you can also put on a nice shirt over a pair of smart track suit bottoms for comfort, but you must dress the part. Remember the old saying – dress for the job you want not the job you have? Well this is the same only simpler: dress for the job. I also wear shoes every day as I find I absolutely cannot concentrate in slippers. That said, another key element of making the switch from work to home in a small space is the ritual of changing clothes at the end of the day. 

2. Structure Your Day

Writers tend to write when the mood (or muse) strikes and that may well be at 4am or 11pm and they are capable of missing meals and remaining in their bubble until the mood (or muse) moves on. For everyone else a little structure is required. And just as many of are now having to plan home schooling sessions for our children you should do the same around a working day. So, there is lunch. There is a morning coffee break and perhaps an afternoon tea break. If at all possible instead of congregating round the water cooler try and either take ten minutes in the garden or stick your head out of the window if you don’t have any outside space. Fresh air keeps ideas fresh. For those with kids, setting them a task like drawing a picture or 30 minutes quiet reading will allow you to attend an online meeting and then you can all have a ten-minute break and a biscuit before you start the next thing. Build social media slots into your day too. We’ve all fallen down the Instagram rabbit hole and lost an hour without realising. Just as you couldn’t do that at the office, you can’t allow it to take over now. Either restrict yourself to break times or allow yourself 30 minutes at the start and end of the day as if it were travel time – but make sure you get up early enough to factor this in. 

Plan your breaks and try to spend some time outside.

Treat yourself for all your hard work, indulge in a decadent bath at the end of the day.


Kate's new book Mad About The House: 101 Interior Design Answers begins with the most important questions of all: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? And When? The aim is to answer these before you start any decorating scheme and you will avoid the most common mistakes, save money and, most importantly, create a home that works for you and the people who live there.


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