- Posted by admin
- On April 1, 2020
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Working from home has become the new norm in the wake of social distancing. From small startups to giants like GM and AT&T, companies everywhere are encouraging employees to work from home to combat the spread of coronavirus. While not all jobs can be done at home, those that can are currently making the transition.
While working from the comfort of home may sound appealing, it does present challenges. Staying productive and engaged while working remotely can be difficult, especially considering the panic and constant news about COVID-19.
How To Be Productive While Working at Home:
If you’re new to the work from home world, use these tips to adjust to the new normal and practice good time management while working at home.
- Set a Routine
- Pick a Work Area
- Create House Rules
- Set Goals
- Communicate with your Team
- Avoid Common Distractions
- Plan Breaks
- Practice Self Care
Set a Routine
While your routine will obviously be changed, it’s important to set and keep as normal a routine as possible. Try to wake up at the same time each day and stick to your normal morning schedule – whether that includes exercise, a large cup of coffee, or walking your dog. Many people find it helpful to shower and change out of pajamas and into work clothes – or at least a different outfit from what you slept in. For those with kids at home, try to establish a normal morning routine for them as well.
Keeping a routine will establish some normalcy and get you ready for your workday. With a standard morning routine in place, you can better adjust when it’s time to get to work.
Pick a Work Area
While it may be tempting to lay in bed with your laptop, establishing an area for work will help keep you concentrated and motivated. Working in bed can be a bit too comfortable, and it’s helpful to set boundaries between work areas and home areas, even within your own home.
If you have a home office then it’s easy to set that space aside for work, but most people don’t have a room at home dedicated to office space. Those without a convenient home office should pick a workspace and stick with it. It might be a desk in the bedroom, a kitchen table, or even on the couch with a coffee table in front of you – if it works for you, then it works.
Once you have a designated workspace, try to keep it uncluttered and free from distractions. Organize your desk to mimic your normal desk setup however possible, and make sure the space is conducive to productivity. A comfortable chair also helps – your back will thank you.
If you have kids at home, set rules for whether or not they can enter your workspace. Privacy is easier with a home office, so if you’re working out in the open then try to set boundaries some other way.
Create House Rules
If you’re working at home and you live with other people – a partner, your children, roommates, or others – you should establish expectations early. While you may have a heavy workload, a partner or other roommate may find themselves unemployed or unable to work remotely. Be clear about when and where in the house you’ll be working. If needed, politely ask for designated quiet hours.
Working from home with kids is a different beast to tackle. Many parents are currently finding themselves working at home as employees as well as caregivers, teachers, cooks, and even more. How you handle working from home with your children depends largely on their age; older kids will better understand the current situation in the world as well as the fact that you need alone time to work. Younger children will have a harder time understanding why their parent is home but can’t play with them.
Communicate with your children clearly and in a way that they can understand, explaining that you need some quiet time to get work done. Plan ahead with activities and lessons that can occupy your kids with less supervision. If you are coparenting, plan a schedule with your partner so that you can take turns getting work done and taking care of the kids.
Be patient with those you live with, whether they are children or adults – social distancing and COVID-19 panic is stressful, even for those who are too young to fully grasp what is happening. Try to set clear expectations with those around you and be patient with each other and with yourself as you adjust to working at home.
Set daily or even weekly goals for what you want to accomplish. Working at home comes with a unique set of distractions, so maintaining focus is key to productivity. Setting goals will help ensure that you’re on track – if you’re halfway through the workday and not even close to halfway done your list of goals, you know you’re lagging behind.
Set goals like tasks to complete, accomplishments met, or other benchmarks that fit your type of work. Be realistic with how much you hope to achieve – you can get just as much done as you do in the office, but don’t be too hard on yourself or pile on too many tasks in one day. Setting daily goals for what you want to accomplish will keep you on schedule and productive despite your absence from the office.
Communicate with your Team
When you’re working from home, communication can fall short. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to keep communicating, from classic emails and calls to Slack channels, Zoom video meetings, and more.
Overcommunication is key when working remotely. It’s better to check in too much than not enough, especially when you’re missing out on the ease of walking a few feet to a coworkers desk to discuss a shared project or ask a question. At the end of each day, check in with your supervisor or with your team on what you accomplished, what roadblocks you hit, and any questions you may have.
If you’re at home with kids, let your team know – they will most likely be understanding if your schedule gets thrown off a bit if you’re also taking care of your children full-time.
Working remotely can be isolating, so communication is important not only for staying on top of work, but also for maintaining some normalcy and getting in some social time. There aren’t any “water cooler” talks when you’re at home by yourself, but it doesn’t hurt to check in with coworkers for some casual conversation or even schedule virtual team coffee breaks. Try out ice breakers, like asking what colleagues have been up to while staying home or asking for movie recommendations.
Keeping open communication with the team doesn’t mean that you have to be completely work-focused every second. Use the tools you have to touch base on projects, goals, and other business while also maintaining some normal, everyday conversation as well.
Avoid Common Distractions
Those who have worked from home before know their WFH weaknesses. If you’re new to working from home, it shouldn’t be too hard to recognize your most common pitfalls when it comes to staying productive. For some people it’s social media, for others it’s TV, and for some it may be the people you live with. Once you know what is most likely to get you off track, try to set boundaries to avoid those distractions.
If your cell phone is a major distraction, try to put it in a drawer. This may not be possible for those expecting work calls, but if possible it may save you some wasted time scrolling. If you find that making lunch becomes a long, time-consuming process, plan your meals ahead of time or meal prep the night before.
If you’re working from home with your children, try to plan activities that will keep them busy and set expectations for children old enough to understand that you’re working.
No one is perfect, and no one expects you to be a perfectly focused work machine. Everyone takes breaks during a normal work day, whether it’s for a coffee run, lunch, or just to chat. Plan breaks for your work from home workdays as well.
Scheduling your breaks in advance will give you something to look forward to and motivate you to get your work done. You can schedule a few breaks per day based on the time or by what you’ve accomplished. By planning your breaks, you can control how much time you spend working vs relaxing. If you don’t plan and simply allow random breaks throughout the day, you may find that the breaks are too long or too frequent to stay on top of your workload.
Practice Self Care
Working remotely under normal conditions can be isolating and difficult to adjust to. Working remotely during a public health crisis adds a whole new layer of stress, adjustment, and isolation since you are likely socially distancing from most of society.
Take care of yourself while working from home. Check in on your physical health through exercise, stretching, or whatever else feels normal to you. Take a walk to get some sunshine. Check in on your mental health by talking to someone, journaling, or whatever tactic works for you. Social distancing doesn’t have to mean total isolation, so use technology to stay connected not only to those at work, but to family and friends.
Working from home is the new normal for many people around the world. Make the most of your time at home by staying productive and setting boundaries between your work from home life and your normal home life. Use these tips or share your own ideas for staying sane and focused while working remotely!