An increasing number of people are working from home. Switching from a structured office environment to the comfort of your own home can be a challenge! How do you stay focused, productive, efficient and effective when making the commute from your bed to your laptop? How do you juggle the demands of your daily job with family and home concerns? How can you ensure that you meet your deadlines? Whether you work from home every day, a couple of times per week, or you’re working from home while you recover from an illness, the following tips can help you work productively from any location.
- Enjoy your morning: With no daily commute, you free up time to ease yourself into your workday. Arise at your usual time. Enjoy a good breakfast, coffee and time to catch up on tasks and the news. Then dive into your work tasks.
- Remember to exercise as it wakes you up and puts you in a positive mood. It will reduce your stress, increase creativity and help you have a productive day.
- Get dressed: Getting dressed for your workday is critical as it puts you in work mode, ensures you look professional at video meetings and helps you feel put together and ready to take on work tasks. Sweatpants and pyjamas can make you feel sluggish, sleepy, or unmotivated. Try laying out your outfit the night before or planning an outing during the day so that you have to get dressed.
- Make an agreement with your family: Establish a clear schedule for the entire family. Coordinate your schedules to accommodate the need for child care. Consider waking up an hour earlier to have more time to get work done while the house is quiet. Create clear boundaries with children so that they know when not to interrupt you. Keep the boundaries friendly and playful, but make sure you stick to them.
- Make a clear division between work and play: If possible, set up your home office so that you can walk out at the end of the day, shutting the door behind you. If you don’t have a separate office space, pack your desk away at the end of the workday. Stick to your working hours as much as possible, leaving room for your personal life.
- Stay on schedule: Find the time of day that works best for you to start and finish work, and make sure you commit to it. Set specific hours for when you’ll be available, by phone, email or online and working. Stay strict about your time frame. Regular hours keep you accountable to yourself and to your boss.
- Establish a weekly plan: Having a plan for the week helps you stay focused and on track. Set daily goals to assist in meeting the weekly plan. Commit to the plan.
- Set deadlines: Deadlines and benchmarks along the way help you accomplish something each day. After meeting a deadline, give yourself a reward (a healthy snack, a relaxing bath, a new pair of sneakers, a call with a friend, a cup of fragrant tea).
- Create a comforting environment: Create a space that inspires you to work. Clear the clutter. Bring in a few plants. Play music you enjoy.
- Plan for productivity: Write a to-do list for each day. Do your most difficult tasks early in the day to avoid procrastination and put you in a positive mindset for the rest of the day’s activities. Consider using task management tools such as Monday, Asana, or Trello. Time management apps such as RescueTime and Toggl may also be helpful.
- Stay connected: One of the biggest challenges of working from home is communicating with the rest of your team. Good communication is crucial for a smooth and productive workflow. Check in with your coworkers at least a couple of times per week (email, phone, video call, social media, in person). Have intentional and meaningful conversations with colleagues. Both Slack and Google Hangouts offer useful online messaging tools that are an efficient way to touch base. Take advantage of video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Workplace.
- Log out of social media: It’s tempting to scroll through your social media feeds throughout the day. This can affect focus and productivity. Try logging out of all your social accounts during work hours. Remove social platforms from your bookmarks. Disable alerts and notifications. Restrain from compulsively checking your inbox. Set yourself specific times to check and answer your emails.
- Take breaks: Occasionally take a break from your work. This will enhance focus. Give yourself 10 to 15 minutes every hour or two to make a coffee, do some yoga, meditate, pet your dog, grab a snack and/or stretch. Take a lunch break. Workers who take short breaks stay consistently productive. It refreshes you mentally and physically.
- Have a dedicated workspace: Create a separate space for doing work, a consistent room, desk, or chair. This tells your brain that it’s time for work, not relaxation. Your space need not be a whole room or even a table, just an area that you use for work every day. Keep it clean and organized. Make sure it’s stocked with all the supplies and equipment you need (computer, printer, paper, headphones). Personalize your space.
- Try Meal Prepping: Mealtime responsibilities may fall on your shoulders. Meal prepping is a great way to keep cooking from bogging you down. On weekends, make a few meals in bulk and portion them into food storage containers, assisting with on demand meals during the week.
Working from home comes with challenges! You know yourself and how you work. Using the tips that work for you and self-discipline, you can create a schedule and environment that allows you to remain creative and productive. Establishing deadlines, creating clear expectations for your family and eliminating distractions helps to ease the difficulties. With a few simple considerations, you can set yourself up for success.
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