With the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and some entire regions being placed on lock-down and practicing social distancing, more and more companies are asking their employees to work remotely from home. This shift from working in an office environment to working from your house is a tricky transition to make, but these 10 helpful tips can lead to a productive and successful work from home experience.
Set Up Space for Work
The first step is creating a dedicated space for work purposes. This should be separate from your lounging area and be solely used for getting work done. Without differentiating between the two, you are likely to not be as productive and become tempted to procrastinate by not being able to “get in the zone.” Yes, your bed and couch are both comfortable, but if you decide to use these as your space while you work, you’ll find yourself caught in the trap of not wanting to do anything except relax. When choosing this separate workspace, pick a location in your home that has lots of natural light to combat the light from your screen. Choose minimal but inspirational decor you enjoy to motivate you while you work. Some folks enjoy inspirational quotes or bringing in greenery from plants to create a welcoming feel. This is a simple one but is often overlooked: have a good chair to keep you comfortable and ready to work.
Even though you’re at home, you need to make sure you have the equipment available to work successfully. Things to check off your standard technology list are: a reliable wifi connection, fast Internet from your provider, a high-speed router, a headset and webcam for video calls, appropriate software, and a quality desktop or laptop. If you do not have a reliable Internet connection, your phone may be able to act as a hotspot for your computer. Save yourself a headache by making a list and acquiring the technology you need to be successful.
Anticipate and Avoid Distractions
While it may feel like a luxury working from the comfort of your home, you may find yourself more easily distracted than you did at the office. The ease of finding things to preoccupy your time are tenfold when you are in your own house. To combat this, go ahead and list what you know to likely be a distraction for you. As you continue to transition into working remotely this list will grow, and you should continually update it as you learn more and more about yourself through this process. Pro-tip: set app limits on your phone. For communication purposes, you do need to have your phone available. However, social media can be a huge distraction that can quite literally turn into hours of unproductive time. Setting app limits through your phone’s settings will ensure that you are not tempted to open an app you know will cause distraction.
Establish a Work and Life Balance
Working from home can prove difficult if you do not set clear boundaries between work and your personal life. Designate times for each, setting aside time for office hours and personal hours. This balance can be met, but be sure to communicate them with others as well. This is more challenging if you have a partner and/or children, but being clear on expectations will help you in the long run to maintain times that work and to stay uninterrupted.
Create a Schedule for Yourself
Flexibility is a huge benefit of working at home. Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, find a schedule for office hours that suits you. Dressing up for these hours is beneficial, as you will be more productive than when completing work in your pajamas. It’ll maintain the normalcy of the job. This schedule can be adjusted, but try to nail down a consistent schedule as quickly as you can to keep you on track. Don’t forget to include break times in this, which are necessary to keep you fresh and actively engaged.
When looking at your schedule for the day, physically writing down tasks is an effective way to keep accountability in completing them. Nothing is more satisfying than crossing a project or meeting off of your list. Be sure to keep the tasks within reason so that you don’t become dismayed if you haven’t accomplished everything for the day.
Being away from bosses, coworkers, and employees will be a change to get used to. Maintaining communication is essential to avoid any confusion, frustration, or discrepancies that stem from working remotely. Embrace phone calls, messaging systems and emails to keep everyone on the same page.
Check Your Mental Health
This is a big adjustment for most: take a breather. This takes time to adapt to. Remember that it is okay and normal to feel this way – we’re human and all in this together. If you find yourself feeling lonely, reach out to friends and make time to socialize safely. Even consider having talks with your coworkers that aren’t related to work, as you normally would while on the job. Remind yourself to keep a positive attitude throughout this, because your mindset is important to keep you healthy and productive.
Maintain Your Physical Health
It may have been routine to go to the gym before or after work, but now you find gyms are closed and you are working from home. Once routine is lost, that drive to keep yourself active quickly ceases to exist, motivation nowhere to be found. As you schedule your day or week, don’t forget to set aside time to go for a morning or afternoon walk or run outside, or even just a stretch break.
Establishing a proper diet takes effort and self-restraint as well. The fridge and pantry will become your master if you don’t establish control first. Fill them with options that are healthy and make your body feel good, and remember to drink plenty of water along with all the coffee you’re likely to consume. Exercise is proven to stimulate chemicals that regulate moods, relieve stress, and improve memory and sleep. This goes hand in hand in maintaining your mental health, so don’t underplay both physical and mental health’s significance in your productivity while working at home.
Find the Right Playlist
Our final tip, and most important in my opinion, is listening to music based upon what you are working on. I have a hard time focusing without any noise in the background. Keep it diverse and find playlists that work for you, varying music tastes from instrumental, soundtrack, folk, or upbeat. My personal go-to is “Rainy Day at the Coffee Shop Ambience” on Youtube, featuring 8 hours of rain, background chatter and jazz music. Whatever the tune, try out this tip and see if it contributes to your focus and productivity levels.
In all, these 10 tips will ensure your productivity during this difficult time. Don’t fall into the negativity of your situation. Instead, maintain a mindset that you will make this time as productive and enjoyable as it can be. Save your sanity: find what works for you and stick to it. Take control of this time and use it to your advantage. You may find that working remotely from home is your new favorite thing.