A lot of us have been experiencing new ways of working in the past months due to lockdown restrictions. Working from home has replaced our daily commute, our face-to-face meetings, and how managers manage their team. You can basically work in your jammies all day. However, working in this new environment poses some challenges as the ambience of professionalism isn’t present at home. Your co-workers aren’t around, and you don’t have your usual work desk or cubicle. So here are some things that can help to be able to stay productive when working from home.
- Don’t go straight to work as soon as you wake up
It can be quite tempting to sleep-in and just get up and go straight to work. I admit that I have done this a few times (I blame it on the winter weather lol). However, I find that this does not set me up for a good day. My most productive hours are in the morning, but I need some time to “warm up” in the morning instead of rushing to do some work right away.
- Have a designated work space
A designated work space doesn’t have to be a home office. It can be part of your dining room, or just a desk beside a window. It can even be more than one place in your home. For example, if the temperature isn’t too cold, I work in the spare room. But if it gets chilly, I work at our dining area where we get direct sunlight. What’s important is that when you go into that space, you are there to work, and you are comfortable to stay there for hours at a time (i.e. having a chair that doesn’t hurt your back). Having said that, I don’t suggest working on your bed, where the temptation to take a nap may just be too much.
- Keep your work space tidy
This might not be for everyone, but personally I feel like I can’t focus when my desk is cluttered. I want to keep my work space as minimal as possible. Before restrictions were in place, I usually worked in client offices (where we don’t usually get a permanent desk), so this has also encouraged this behavior of just having what you need on your desk.
- Have a look at your normal work routine
Although we have been working at home and doing our online calls and meetings, I felt that something was missing. And then I read something that my boss wrote, saying that it didn’t feel like he was going to work unless he shaved, since it was part of his normal routine of preparing to go to the office. And so I looked at what I was doing before going to the office, and it was wearing my wedding ring (I usually don’t wear it at home). So yeah, maybe bringing that little thing from your usual routine to your work from home scenario can help.
- Plan your tasks and have a to do list
When you work from home, your day can be a blur of office work, house chores, taking care of kids, etc. If you don’t plan your day, you can get lost in the myriad of things to do. Although you can’t plan your day to a tee, having a list of things to do will give you direction on what you need to accomplish.
- Pop in your “focus” playlist
It’s usually jazz or coffee shop music for me. Listen to what works for you and keeps you in the zone, and get that job done!
- Take breaks
Again, it’s easy to just become unaware of how time flies when you work from home. You might be tempted to just push through with your task, and even extend your working hours into the evening. Remember that you need to give yourself mental breaks. Get up from your chair and take a walk and maybe make a quick snack or a coffee in the kitchen. Also, it would be healthier to set boundaries and know when it’s time to close up shop for the day.