For many people, the COVID shutdown has provided a free sample of what it’s like to work from home. While most Americans are enjoying the benefits (no commute, easier home life), there are also problems and pitfalls. The biggest issue: how to stay productive while working from home?
It can be tempting to take a nap between meetings, engage in household chores when you should be working, or just stream all day. After all, you’re in the comfort of your own home.
Well, here are 5 tips to keep you sane and productive while working from home, courtesy of someone who has been working remotely for years.
One of the things people like best about working from home is the lack of dress code. You can work in your PJs if you want, and no one’s the wiser. But if you fall into that trap, pretty soon you’ll be telling yourself, “I don’t have to shower, no one’s the wiser.”
You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit, but make a point of dressing, showering, shaving, and otherwise maintaining yourself just as if you were going to work in an office every day. Self-care still matters for its own sake -- and for the sake of your sanity.
This goes hand-in-hand with number one. It’s so tempting to set your alarm for 8:50, roll out of bed, and go directly to your desk.
While getting extra sleep is one of the perks of working remotely, you should make a point of waking up a little earlier than you need to. Go for a run, have a coffee, make breakfast. Do whatever you need to do to wake yourself up and get yourself in that working headspace. Your brain will thank you.
Workspace is just as important as headspace -- in fact the two are related. It may seem chill to work in bed, but that’s generally a bad idea. It’s confusing to your brain. Your bedroom should be a place of relaxation and rest, not Zoom meetings and stress.
Instead, set aside somewhere in your home where you can compartmentalize your work. If you don’t have a home office, choose the kitchen table, the living room, heck even the balcony. When you have a designated workspace, it’s easier to stay focused on the task at hand.
A lot of people who work from home don’t take scheduled breaks. Instead, they waste time while they’re working and rationalize it. This can be a drain on productivity. If you can, structure your day just as you would in the office, with breaks peppered into your working hours.
Some people already do this at the beginning of every day in order to ground themselves and establish the results they want to deliver before they go home. But if you don’t, it can be a big help when working remotely.
One of the challenges of not being in the office is isolation. It’s easy to feel lost and directionless, to spend precious hours wondering what to do, where to go, who to talk to. And, of course, you will experience delays as you wait for superiors to message or call you back and approve whatever it is you’re doing.
If you have a to-do list, you will never feel lost or without purpose. There’s always something productive you can be doing.
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