Because of the coronavirus outbreak, there are a lot more of us working from home to try to slow the spread of the virus. But turning your home into your office is tricky even in the best of times, as it can be super hard to separate work and life when they're both happening in the same place.
For some of you like me then this may be business as usual. But for many people who are used to working in a business/office environment then this may be something that you are not used to. So here are my top tips on how be productive when working from home.
Tip 1: Maintain a Routine
We are creatures of habit and when our routine is suddenly disrupted, we go through several emotions such as helplessness, despair, anger, and frustration. In order to get back control, you’ll have to mimic your previous routine as close as possible.
If you wake up at 6 a.m., then continue that same routine. If you like going for a jog before work, then continue that routine (of course within reason). If you get dressed up for work, then you should still do the same. Otherwise, if we wake up at 9 a.m., not work out, not get dressed, we start to feel out of place and not have a sense of normalcy.
For those that have kids, keeping the same routine will be critical for your children; otherwise, they will perceive time at home as if it were time off and not be motivated to learn. This will make it harder for you to help them stay on track in finishing their school work.
Tip 2: Don’t Use Extra Time To Work
One of the biggest mistakes people do when they work from home is to work more. Many do it because they feel guilty that they are working remotely and don’t want their boss or co-workers to think they are slacking off or they don’t know want to do with the extra time and, as a result, use the time to “catch-up”.
Create time boundaries and use that extra time to do something else. If you commute to work, chances are you take that time to listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks, or something else. That shouldn’t stop. The time getting to and from work is a transition period between home and work and as frustrating as commuting can be, it’s our time to prepare ourselves to go to the office. By not commuting, the lines start to get blurred between work and home.
Tip 3: Use Video Chat
For many of us, in-person contact is important because we are able to read social cues when talking with someone. When we work from home, our in-person contact with co-workers disappears; as such, it becomes important to see the people you talk to.
Try to use the video function of Zoom, Skype, MS Teams, etc. I realise that many people are not comfortable being in front of a camera; however, doing so, will allow you the opportunity to see your friends and colleagues and, in turn, it will give the impression that you are still connected. At a minimum, continue your chats via instant messenger or phone. Don’t just rely on email.
Tip 4: Take breaks
Being in the office lends itself to chit chat with co-workers. Someone comes around and asks if you want to go grab a coffee or asks you to go for a walk. That clearly will be hard to do if you’re now working remotely but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take breaks throughout the day. Taking breaks will be critical to your sanity but also making sure you rest your eyes from sitting in front of the computer.
One way to add breaks into your schedule is by adding a daily calendar invite for 10 mins at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Regardless, make a concerted effort to step away from your computer.
Also ensure you take full advantage of your lunch breaks where you don't look at anything work-related. Use this time wisely, so shut down your work and refresh mind. This is a great time to check in on friends and family, get active or make yourself a fresh lunch.
Tip 5: Environment
At this time, we don’t know how long this pandemic will last and chances are we will be home longer than we want. First, get changed out of your pyjamas every morning. It'll help get you in the right headspace for work and allow you to take video calls on the fly.
Try to keep your bedroom as a sacred space for sleeping and relaxing where work is banned. It'll help make the work-life divide a little clearer. Even if you live in a small space, moving your chair from one place to another will give the brain the perception that you are now in a new space. Obviously, this would be applicable to those working on a laptop.
For those working on a desktop, perhaps think about adding flowers to your desk area or re-arranging it a little to make it look a bit different. Also, moving your desktop to an area that has a lot of sunlight will also help because it will make where you work brighter. Listen to music or put the TV on quietly, since working from home can sometimes be a little too quiet, which makes it difficult to focus. If you can as well try and use an external mouse and keyboard.
Regardless, the point is to find spaces in your home where you can move around throughout the day even if it means simply taking a call from your phone somewhere other than your desk.
Tip 6: Get Active
Being physical active is a great way to keep your body moving and your mind active. So just because we’re currently working from home, that doesn’t mean we should being active.
Go outside! Even if it's just a quick walk around your block, the fresh air will do wonders. Why not do this during your lunch break or perhaps even take one on your calls whilst walking.
If you’re looking to challenge yourself a little more and your local gyms are closed. Then there are plenty of effective home workouts than you can do that require very no equipment at all. These session can take less than 30 minutes and are a great way to start your day before you open up your laptop for work. I’d personally recommend searching ‘The Body Coach’ on YouTube for the best workouts.
Please remember these are my top tips on how I work at home. What works for me may not work for you. But my best advice during this period is to try as many as possible.
There’s no right or wrong way to work at home. However, you find your right way, by trying a number of different ways and seeing what tips works best.
As we are going through this difficult time, please do stay safe and if there is anything that I can personally do to help then please do get in touch.
I hope this helps.