7 Tips to Stay Productive While Working from Home
In this year like no other year, many people have been forced to work from home. If you are used to, and happy with, an office environment, this change can be rather unsettling. There are a whole host of potential distractions (the refrigerator!) at home that can take your focus away from the task at hand. The key is to limit the distractions and do the best you can to replicate your office work day at home, to create an environment that allows you to focus on the tasks at hand. Here are some tips for creating a functional and productive work regimen at home:
- Get ready for the day
Get up, get dressed, have breakfast. If you would normally exercise before going to work, keep doing so. Even though you could stay in your pyjamas all day, don’t. You don’t need to put on formal work clothes but being suitably dressed for a day at the home office helps put you in a work frame of mind. Put together your daily work to-do list to give your day some direction.
- Designate a specific workspace
And keep it consistent every day. Having a designated spot in your home where you “go to work” can result in less distraction and deeper focus. And don’t make it your bedroom! Because your body and mind associate that room with sleep, trying to work there rarely works out. If you have office space in your home, that would be ideal. If you don’t, kitchen counters and dining room tables can work alright. Make sure you have lots of elbow room. You don’t want to feel cramped. Remember at the end of the day to convert your space back to its original purpose, i.e. the dining room table goes back to being the dining room table. You, and your family, don’t want your work to take over your life – or house.
- Stay close to regular working hours
While working at home does offer some flexibility in scheduling, you don’t want to stray too far from what were your regular working hours. Since your schedule at the office is largely dictated by the people you are working with, it takes a bit of discipline to stick to a regular schedule at home by yourself, so it helps to have a plan. However, you are likely still working with the team you worked with at the office so regular team meetings and updates need to be adhered to.
- Take breaks. Get outside
Taking breaks every few hours can help increase productivity. If you have a dog, go for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, go for a walk. It’s always good to get some fresh air and exercise. Regular exercise, even something as simple as walking, can have great positive effects on your overall health. If going outside isn’t an option, make sure you still find some time to just step away from your work area – have a cup of tea, read a book for 15 minutes, daydream.
- Customize your environment
While I did say to try and replicate your office environment, working from home does give you the chance to have some fun with your workspace. Add a scented candle, a plant or maybe a particular picture to your kitchen table desk. Anything that might help keep you focused and motivated throughout the day. And you could add music, something that likely wasn’t allowed at your office without wearing earbuds. These kinds of things — particularly scents and plants — can have very positive effects on your emotional well-being.
- Stay social
Socializing is just as important when working from home as it is in the traditional workplace — even more so. Isolation and disconnection are never good for your mental health. So stay connected to co-workers, family and friends with Skype or Zoom or whatever platform works for you. Have a regular “check-in”. A quick but genuinely inquired “how are you?” can go a long way – for both sides.
- Know when to call it a day
Sometimes you get on roll and just want to keep working. And it’s easy to lose track of time when there is no commute home to worry about. But try to keep to your regular knock off time. Your family will thank you and you will be glad you did. Besides, you’ve got to vacate the dining room table before dinner is ready!