We’re living in an obscure time where the majority of people are forced to work from home. I’m sure a few months ago you were sitting at your desk, in an afternoon slump, wishing you had the ability to work from home. You pictured yourself waking up late, enjoying a slow morning sipping some coffee, showering was optional, and you’d be wearing your comfy clothes and slippers. A few weeks into this so-called “luxury” and getting back to the office can’t come fast enough. So how do you do it? How do you stay productive, manage your time, separate work and home, and still add value to your company?
Wake up “on time”
It begins with waking up and getting your mind in the right place which requires you to give yourself time to do so. Waking up at the last minute and scrambling to open your computer starts your day in a rush and will lead you to feel overwhelmed. Your body and brain are used to waking up, getting ready, and commuting before you even open your inbox.
Change your clothes
Changing out of your pajamas also helps your brain understand it’s time to start the day even if you’re changing into another set of lounge clothes. However, for some people, this might mean putting on jeans and a nice top to make them feel dressed for the job. Be honest with yourself about how much you need to get ready in the morning in order to have a productive workday.
Designate a work area
Designating an area to work from will allow you to get in the mindset of working. If you curl up on your couch or sit on your bed you might be inclined to turn on the TV or lay down because that is what you’re used to doing in those areas. Having a specific area you go to every day will cultivate a healthy work environment and will also communicate with others in your household to respect your area.
Take a lunch break
One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of working from home is stepping away from your computer and taking a lunch break. This is a valuable time for you to energize yourself and clear your mind. Take a walk, play with your dog, or sit outside and read for a few minutes so you can continue on with a productive afternoon.
In an effort to stay on task, it’s helpful to set timers for yourself. Maybe take 30 minutes to check/respond to emails, an hour to write a blog post, or 45 minutes to check something else off your list. Having a timer set and allocating that time out for a specific task will allow you to move through your to-do list efficiently. Without having someone checking in on you in the office, setting timers is a great way to motivate yourself.
Stay connected to coworkers
While everyone is away it’s important to check in on your coworkers. Maybe set up a video call to catch up or chat throughout the day using Skype or Slack. This will help everyone stay connected and will keep your office culture going. Our team has been using the app, Marco Polo, to converse about random topics ranging from our latest Netflix binge to if we keep the twist tie for our loaf of bread. Working with a remote team can be challenging but intentionally staying connected with your coworkers will make a big difference
Keep your home cleaned up
There is nothing more distracting than dishes in the sink or laundry in the hamper. If you stay on top of these things (because what else are we doing these days) then you will be less distracted during your workday. It’s a small thing that can make a big difference in your productivity and ability to focus on what matters throughout the day.
Leave work in the work area
When you’re taking breaks or are finished for the day leave your computer, papers, etc. in your work area. This will help you keep “work at work” and maintain a work-life balance when you’re doing it all in the same location. Again, this trains your brain that the designated work area is for work and the rest of your living quarters is for…living.
Allow yourself to wind-down
Once again, when you’re working in the office you have your commute home to transition from work to life. Give yourself the same courtesy when you’re working from home. Maybe this is journaling, reading, listening to music, watching a few minutes of a show before working on dinner or entertaining the kids.
Go to bed “on time”
Since you’ll be waking up “on time” you also need to go to bed “on time”. Don’t cheat yourself of a full night’s sleep just because you might not be waking up as early. I’m not a medical professional, but I do know sleep is important for your overall health. You’ll thank yourself in the morning!
Hopefully, you’ll find some of these tips helpful but remember, everyone is different so tweak or change them to fit you. Find a routine that works well for you and stick with it so you continue to put your best effort into your job. And if you completely disregard point #2, just make sure your video is turned off when you join a conference call!
Rachel is the team lead of Client Services at FarShore. She works closely with her team members to ensure every project is a success by overseeing the day-to-day operations of the project and managing the relationship between our team and the client. When she’s not working you can find her playing with her daughter or reading a good book!