How to Stay Productive While Working From Home: Part II
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, working people around the world are being asked to stay in their homes, and continue conducting business operations from the safety of their homes. Many of those working from home have never done so before, and are trying to make the best of the situation. Want more tips and tricks on how to stay productive while working from home? In Part I of our “How to Stay Productive When Working From Home” blog segment, we gave you some of the very basics:
– Get Started Early & Act Like You Are Still Going to Work
– Structure Your Day Like You Would in the Office
– Make a “To-Do” Checklist
– Choose a Work Space That Works for You
– Take Planned Breaks
– Stay Away From Social Media
In Part II, we’ll give you even more ideas to keep yourself organized and productive.
No matter where you’ve decided to “set up shop,” make sure to de-clutter your area. At-home clutter, like bills, clothing, or other chores can be distracting. If you keep your work area clean, the only thing you have to focus on is your work!
During this pandemic, you might not be sitting in an office with other people. However, doesn’t mean you should skip a shower or getting dressed for the day. Wake yourself up by taking a shower, brushing your teeth, getting dressed and ready for the day! It will make you feel refreshed and prepared for a day of work ahead of you.
Turn on the lights.
Wake up! Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be as alert as usual. Keep yourself awake and alert. If you prefer natural light, open the shades. Just make sure it doesn’t create a distracting or annoying glare on your screen.
Create a home office ambiance.
One of the perks of working from home is that you’re truly working in YOUR space. Create an office ambiance that you love, that you might not otherwise be able to create in your actual work office. Add homey, inspirational touches, like succulents, candles, fresh flowers, an essential oil diffuser, etc. Truly make it your own! After all, you’re the only one in your office at home.
Though it is ultimately up to you where you decide to work from, we highly discourage the idea of working in bed. Your bed is for sleeping and relaxing – not a productive mindset. Working in bed puts you at risk of being tired, taking naps, not moving around, and ultimately lacking productivity.
We also recommend separating your workspace from your family space, especially if you have children or housemates that work different jobs or schedules than you do. For instance, if you and your family all typically spend a lot of time together in a living room, maybe set up a desk in a formal dining room that is not used as often.
Set boundaries with other people at home.
Many of us do not live alone, which can be great from a social standpoint, but distracting from a productivity standpoint. Make sure you have set boundaries with others at home. Not everyone works the exact same schedule or job, so letting your roommate or significant other know about the hours you work, any important phone calls you might have, etc. will help reduce any stressors or aggravation surrounding your workflow at home.
Avoid complete isolation – find innovative ways to interact.
If your job does not require a lot of human interaction, or if you live alone, working from home can become lonely. Find ways to interact with your coworkers throughout the day, or even friends or loved ones! Make a video (FaceTime, Skype, Zoom) call before your work day starts during breakfast, during your lunch break, and/or at dinnertime after you’ve put in a hard day’s work.
Match your music to the task at hand.
Now that you have an office to yourself, you can decide if you want to listen to music through your earbuds, or out loud! You get to be your own office DJ while working from home. Find a type of music that fits the task at hand. Many people will actually listen to classical music if they really need to focus and retain information. However, if that’s not your style, try some calm acoustic music if you prefer to work in a calm or relaxed environment. Or… if you have a hard time focusing while listening to music, try out a podcast for some background noise while you work.
Use laundry as a timer.
Working from home can be a great way to multitask, if done right! Need to get laundry done? Put in a load, and use the timer on the machine to set a goal for yourself to accomplish something by the time the laundry is done! Typical cycles can be anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour.
Interact with your coworkers and schedule meetings.
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you’re not part of a team anymore. Now more than ever is the time to make sure you’re communicating with your team to the best of your ability. Scheduling weekly (or even daily, depending on the industry or project(s) at hand) project re-caps will help make sure everyone else on your team knows where a project may stand.
Use communication tools that work best for you and your team.
When interacting with your coworkers and scheduling meetings, make sure you utilize communication tools that work the best for you and your team. Yes, emails and texts are great for sending quick updates or lists, but sometimes things need to get resolved over personal phone calls or video meetings. Tools like Facetime, Skype, and Zoom are all great for one-on-one or even group meetings.
Remember that everyone works differently.
During these uncertain times with stay at home orders, many people are now required to work at home for the first time ever. The adjustment can be more challenging for some, and it is important to be understanding and empathetic. Everyone’s home life is different, everyone’s jobs are different, and many people have very different work styles. Trying to accomplish things from home can be a significant adjustment, and we all need to take that into consideration. With that understanding, it’s important to establish goals, deadlines, meeting times, and general expectations to make sure everyone is still staying productive and communicating with one another in a way that is organized and constructive.
It’s not only important to set boundaries with the people you live with, but also to set boundaries with yourself. Because you (and most people) are working from home right now, means everyone has access to their work 24/7. You may find yourself receiving notifications at all hours of the day. Even though this blog’s purpose is to give tips on keeping yourself focused and productive, it is important to recognize that you are NOT expected to work 24/7. Don’t overexert yourself and burn yourself out. That will only result in less productivity in the future. Balance your days accordingly. Make sure to take time away from your screen to eat, exercise, and connect with your loved ones during this time.
So, now that the majority of us are working from home for at least the next couple of weeks, these tips and tools can help you settle in and stay productive. In these unexpected circumstances, we need to recognize the severity of the situation at hand and make the best of it. With technology constantly feeding us information related to the pandemic, it can certainly cause anxiety and stress. However, we need to channel that energy and appreciate all of the great capabilities we have to be able to continue our work from home, and still connect with our friends, family, and loved ones, even in isolation.
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