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Working from home has become a new normal for many across the world. More companies are now requiring people to work from home because of the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s a challenging time for us all which has changed how we work, socialise and live because of quarantine and social distancing. Meaning a lot of us have found ourselves in unfamiliar territory, particularly with working remotely.
Although working from home sounds likes a walk in the park, trust me, it’s not as easy as you think.
Many would assume that working from home would allow you to be more productive and get more done than when in the office.
Perhaps, but that depends on several things.
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WORKING FROM HOME IS HARDER THAN YOU THINK
How much you get done when you work from home depends on a collection of things.
Such as being able to use different software and technology, the requirements of your job, being self disciplined and managing your workload alongside home life whilst trying to remain relatively sane.
Not as glamorous as you thought?
Working from home means you can wake up a little later, avoid crowded trains during rush hour and work wearing your PJ’s.
But figuring out how to work from home effectively can be a challenge. Particularly if you’re unable to remain as motivated, disciplined and productive as when you are physically at work.
Managing your time effectively can be difficult when working at home because you’re surrounded by a lot more distractions.
So, how do you stop yourself from being sidetracked by Netflix, your partner, or simple household chores?
Is it even possible to get anything done when you’re working from home with kids?
There are several things you can do to get the best out of working remotely.
Here are 10 useful work from home tips and ideas that will help you stay productive and maintain a healthy work life balance.
10 TIPS TO HELP YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE WORKING FROM HOME
1. HAVE a morning routine
Although working from home allows you to wake up when you feel like it, having a morning routine will make all the difference.
Whether you’re working from home temporarily because of the pandemic or you run your own business, having a morning routine will boost productivity and set the tone for your day.
Start by waking up at the same time every day, take a shower and get dressed as though you were going into work.
Make use of the time you would have used to commute. Everyone’s routine will differ but it could mean getting up at 7. am to make breakfast, writing in your journal, going for a short walk or getting the kids up and ready for school.
It’s entirely up to you!
This is time that a lot of us complained we didn’t have when the world was “normal”, so make the most of it now!
2. Wear something other than PJ’s
Working from home can make it tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day.
Even though you’re not leaving the house, putting on something other than PJ’s can give you a sense of normality despite how unconventional things may feel.
You won’t need to put on a suit and loafers, wear something that you wouldn’t mind your colleagues or clients seeing.
Besides, getting showered and getting dressed is an excellent way to begin your “working” day.
Putting on clothes for work is a great way to differentiate between being at work and being at home, which can make things feel a little less odd.
It’s also good to remember that just because you’re at home, it doesn’t mean your colleagues won’t need to see you at some point.
Zoom and video calls are all the rage, especially with all that is happening at the moment.
Having on a viewer friendly outfit will not only make you feel confident but will also show your colleagues you mean business.
You don’t want to have a last-minute video conference and feel like a slob because you’re still in your sweats and haven’t combed your hair.
3. Create a work space
An enormous challenge of working from home is having a healthy work home balance, which is why creating a designated workspace is important.
To stay sane and remain productive, having a physical separation between work and home is crucial.
Now I know that a lot of us don’t have the luxury of having a home office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a separate area for work and it doesn’t have to be an entire room.
It could be a foldable desk, home office, on the floor with floor cushions or at your dining table.
Wherever you plan to work –
• Work somewhere that is well lit with natural lighting or add desk lamps
• Ensure you have comfortable seating that you can sit on all day
• Bring nature into your workspace with some desk plants
• Keep your space tidy using folders, paper trays, etc
Having a dedicated workspace will allow you to “pack your work away” and fully switch off once your day is over, just like you would clock out to go home after physically being at work.
Having a healthy balance is important whether you work from home or in an office. Avoid getting so caught up in work that you forget to switch off and take time out for yourself.
4. Plan your days
Rather than getting up and jumping onto your computer or laptop with no plan. Plan your days by utilising to do lists and time blocking.
On a Sunday evening write a to-do list with everything you need to do for the upcoming week, both work and home related.
Such as chores, walking your pets and lunch breaks. For each task also write how much time each of them will take.
When writing your list, you can make things a little easier by putting tasks into categories. For example,
• Personal tasks – such as chores
• Recurring tasks
• Work related taks
• Urgent work-related tasks
DOWNLOAD MY FREE TO-DO LIST PLANNER
Once you have your to do list, add your tasks into blocks in your calendar or by using a time management app like Asana which is useful.
• Start off by adding your personal tasks into time blocks, particularly as you will need to balance your time between both work and home activities. Such as chores, looking after children or preparing meals.
•Once you have added your personal tasks into time blocks, you can do the same for any recurring tasks. This could be things such as meetings or follow-up calls.
• After allocating time for recurring taks, you can do the same for all the other work-related tasks on your to do list.
Managing your time effectively when you work from home crucial as it is easy to get distracted.
But be mindful when blocking your time, be as realistic as possible and don’t cram too much into your day.
Blocking out your time will avoid you feeling flustered and allow you to be more proactive about getting tasks completed.
The Chronic Diary recommends – Planners
5. Take breaks
When you work from home, it’s easy to lose track of time and not take breaks.
When planning your days remember to schedule in time to take a break from your screen.
Schedule breaks into your calendar or have an alarm set to remind you it’s time to chill out.
I prefer to block out time in my calendar a few times in the day. One in the morning for 15 mins, an hour for lunch and 15 mins in the late afternoon.
Use being at home to your advantage!
No more having to wait in line for an overpriced panini and chocolate bar.
Working from home means you can make something cheap and tasty that you’re guaranteed to enjoy.
Or use your breaks to take a walk, catch up on an episode of your favourite series on Netflix or call a loved one.
6. Remove all distractions
Okay, this is tough and will take some will power!
Being at home means there are a lot of distractions and temptation.
And let’s be real, there is no way to remove all distractions, unless you lock yourself in an empty room with nothing but a window and computer.
I’ve been working from home for a while now and believe me, the temptations and distractions are real!
There have been many occasions where I’ve taken a “quick nap” and ending sleeping for hours and not getting any work done.
Don’t be me!
Get rid or stay away from anything that may distract you and cause you to procrastinate:
• Put your phone on silent only check it during your scheduled breaks
• Turn off the T.V. If you can’t because of sharing a space, go into another room or put on some headphones
• If you’re addicted to social media like I am, turn your notifications off for those apps
• If you are working from home with children, schedule in time to spend time with them. Your employer will understand if you have to take more frequent breaks to tend to your family. Just let them know.
• Let your friends know you won’t be reachable during working hours (aside from during breaks)
7. MOVE YOUR BODY
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s so easy to lose track of time when you’re working from home.
But making time to move around is important!
Sitting down all day can’t be good and we all know it, whether you’re working from home or in the office.
Get your body moving and your heart pumping as much as you can. Even if it’s getting up to walk around the house for 10 minutes or doing yoga during your break.
Moving your body is an excellent way to recharge not only your body but your mind.
When I’m having a writer’s block, getting up and moving around helps me gather my thoughts and get my creative juices flowing.
8. STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES
If you work with others keep a good line of communication with them and just as you would at work.
Staying in contact also shows that you can remain productive despite the odds and that you can work under pressure.
It’s also an excellent way to bounce ideas off of each other or give a helping hand to someone who may be struggling.
Just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t remain connected.
Don’t neglect your work group chats about the next work event, keep the conversations and friendly banter going.
Nurture those relationships you have with your colleagues because who knows when you’ll be back face to face.
Utilise Zoom, FaceTime and any other communication tools you may already be using.
Staying in touch will help keep a sense of normality and promote togetherness.
9. Check all your devices, apps and software works correctly
For many people, working from home is a fresh experience. Meaning they may not be familiar with certain software and technology needed to work remotely.
If you ‘re new to working remotely, make sure all of your apps and software etc are working correctly and that you are comfortable using them.
To avoid any inconvenience or tardiness, check you have all the devices or systems that you need and if you need help get technical support from IT or a colleague.
10. TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Right now is difficult for everyone and it has affected us in every way possible!
It’s hard to remain productive, motivated and happy during such an uncertain time and that is okay!
Work is important and with many people losing their jobs, the ability to work from home is a blessing that we shouldn’t take for granted.
However, if you feel overwhelmed and you need a moment for yourself, take it!
Work is important, but so is your health, so be mindful of your thoughts and feelings.
Prioritising breaks throughout your day isn’t only a moment to make a cuppa but also a moment to breathe.
Working from home can be a blessing and a curse, that’s why being productive and maintaining a healthy work life balance is important.
Use these tips to create a productive and healthy work environment whether you’re working from home because of cOVID-19 or you’ve been working from home for a while.
I hope you found these tips useful. What are some things you have been doing to stay productive working from home?