The spread of COVID-19 or the novel Coronavirus has led many companies around the world to recommend that their employees work from home until the spread of the virus slows down. This has made work from home our new reality, and for many, this will take a while to get used to. The work expectations might be the same, but the environment is not. Therefore, it’s not always an easy transition. Worry not! We have the best work from home productivity tips that will keep you accountable and collaborative during this period.
Working from home is a double-edged sword—sure, you get to stay in your PJs (or not), but working remotely is more challenging than you think. As you are working and living in the same space, it can be harder to focus on actually only working. At the home office, it’s far easier for distractions, procrastination, and laziness to seep in. Without a professional environment, these things might affect even the best of us.
There will be days when you’re distracted or interrupted by family members or housemates, where you need to balance household chores like laundry or dishes, while emails pour into your inbox. Therefore, staying productive at home can take a little extra effort or a rejigging of how you approach your work.
Whether you are working remotely by choice or by necessity, it means it’s up to you to motivate yourself and get as much out of your time as you would in an office setting. As the pandemic looks like it will be around a while, we won’t know when we can safely step out. So, it’s time to increase your productivity and stay mentally and physically healthy while working remotely. We have some of the best work from home productivity tips to help you work ideally from home. These tips maximise your efficiency and help you hit refresh on your work life.
Listed Below Are Some Of The Best Work From Home Productivity Tips That’ll Help You Stay In Top Form During This Quarantine Period
1Create A Designated Work Area At Home
As you will be living and working from the same physical place now, it’s best to create a designated space at home for your “office”. The key to making your personalised work area a place of productivity is to create an environment that helps you focus on the tasks at hand. Therefore avoid working on the bed or the couch, no matter how tempting they look.
While obviously, not everyone has a spare room they can flip into a home office, you can always find a dedicated and comfortable spot anywhere in your house. Avoid working where you will be distracted or tempted so that you can finish your to-do lists without the inbuilt discipline that an office atmosphere gives you. The location of your work area will be associated with the work you do during the day and will allow you to “clock off” and move away from that space when required. A dedicated place keeps your work and home space separate, without much effort. Thereby making your work from home simple and more systematic.
2Set A Morning Ritual
Try to establish a morning ritual that ends with you starting work. It can be as simple as getting up, making your bed, washing your face, making a cup of coffee and changing your clothes (or staying in your PJs, who are we to judge?). But what matters is the intention or the approach to each new day. A morning routine guides you to your work as it is a head-clearing ritual that prepares you for the day. It creates a necessary mental distance between home time and work time (the role your morning commute used to play).
3Plan Out Your Work
Working from home can get simpler once you choose to plan your day just as you do in the office. To stay on the plan, structure what you’ll be doing and when you’ll be doing it over the course of the day just to keep a track of your workload. You need to make the most of it by approaching the day intentionally. Therefore it’s best to plan out what you’ll be working on ahead of time along with your midday break periods and what time you’ll clock out for the day.
Keep in mind that while it’s important to let your plan change if you need it to, it’s equally important to commit to the plan that outlines every assignment before you begin. One of the easiest ways to keep you going can be: Writing down the tasks for the day and ticking them off as soon as they are completed. You can also reward yourself at the end of each task or the day to keep yourself motivated. This will clearly make working from home easier and efficient.
4Set Boundaries With The People You Are Living With
While you are working from home, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have “company” per se. Make sure your roommates, siblings, parents, spouses, children and even pets respect your space during working hours. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re “at home”. Therefore, it is your responsibility to let your housemates know what they can and cannot do during that time. Put a sign on your door if you have to.
5Communicate With Your Colleagues
Yes, the Coronavirus outbreak has called for social distancing along with social isolation, but it’s important to avoid total social isolation. Keep up with social interaction with your colleagues. Plus, the isolation can quickly become a downer for those used to socialising at work. Therefore, one of the most challenging things about working from home is the lack of socialisation. You might think you’d be productive without your chatty co-workers, but social interactions even via a phone or video call during times like these can alleviate feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Even if you are an introvert, it’s best to give a few interactive experiences a try so that you’re familiar with them if you ever decide you want them. This will work not just for your mental health but is also an essential factor for team bonding. It facilitates cooperation and closeness amongst everyone.
As distracting as some office environments can be, there’s nothing like having co-workers you enjoy working with and catching up with throughout the day. Therefore, when working from home, make time to connect with others, whether that means making all those after quarantine plans or ranting about a workday.
6Remember Everyone Works Differently
The responsibility and commitment of working from home fall on each and every employee. But, keep in mind that everyone has their own schedule to keep, their own challenges, as well as their own tasks to finish, so try not to compare and put yourself down due to it.
Managers should remember not every employee works the same way. Therefore while some might not find WFH stressful, others might. And now that WFH is labelled as an utmost necessity due to the virus, it’s important to keep the communication flowing for anyone in need, and those struggling with this change. But remember that responsibility is a two-way street. You need to do your due diligence to assure your team and the management that you are capable of managing your tasks from home.
Similarly, as for keeping up with teammates, you should always try to communicate and match your work timings with your colleagues. Keep your management updated with a weekly or daily email or call so that communication isn’t lost, especially those regarding difficulties, updates etc. Therefore to facilitate this interdependency of work, it’s best to keep communication flowing smoothly among each other.
7Work When You Feel You Are At Your Most Productive
As we know motivation ebbs and flows throughout the day. It is impossible to work in the same flow, speed and efficiency the entire day. So, know when those ebbs and flows occur, plan your schedule around it. Capitalise on your productive periods by finishing the harder tasks when you know you’re at your productive best. Use the slower points of the day to finish off easy tasks which will also keep you busy.
An advantage of working from home is that you have more freedom to manage your time just how you’d like to. While it is essential to plan your work timings keeping team interdependence in mind, you can schedule your independent tasks to timings that suit you best. Here, you can either stick to usual office time or you can fix your own timings: Starting at 7 am instead of 9 am or 10 am if you’re a morning person, or ending at 8 pm or 9 pm instead of 5 pm or 6 pm if you’re more of a night bird.
As there is no work commute, you have easily saved that time (with no carbon contribution from you) and there is no traffic frustration either. Since your uniform these days is your comfy PJs/sweatpants, there is no need to “get ready” and no worries of being “late”’. The time usually spent on these activities can be used to boost productivity or take a much-needed break between heavy tasks.
8Identify And Eliminate Anything That Wastes Your Time
Distraction remains a daunting challenge while working from home, and it’s something only you can overcome. The key to staying as productive as possible when working from home is to do everything you can to avoid interruptions and distractions. You simply cannot discover your focus zone if you do not know your biggest distractors. Isolate yourself from anything that can easily distract you and come up with a proactive plan to nix these time wasters.
If social media is your Achilles heel, try to audit your time and establish a period when you will allow yourself a quick browse. If you do not have to use the Internet, it’s best to isolate your mobile devices and stick to work on your laptop. You can also try freezing your social media apps to focus on your work. This is one of the important work from home productivity tips, so don’t dismiss it.
9Take Scheduled Breaks
Scheduled breaks are dependent on you. As you set your schedule for the day, you should also slot in some time off. Although it’s easy to be distracted in general, don’t let the guilt of working at home keep you from taking five to relax.
Try to take some time to get away from your work desk and phone even if it’s just for five minutes. For example: Take a walk inside around your home, or spend time with others. No scrolling through Instagram or just one episode on Netflix. Ideally, a break shouldn’t involve any screens. It’s when you can get some fresh air, rest and relax your mind.
10Pick A Definitive Log Off Time
Creating boundaries at work includes where you draw the line for yourself as well. You should know when to stop. While it may seem like you have flexibility in time, giving you the freedom to balance your own work along with daily chores, it’s very easy to immerse yourself in one activity and completely lose track of time.
Allow yourself downtime to create a work-life balance—we all need it, no matter where we are working. Thus, maintain regular hours. You need something to substitute packing up or saying goodbye to your co-workers in the office that usually signals the end of a work-day. Set an alarm to indicate your normal workday has come to an end. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stop exactly at that very moment, but it helps to know your work hours are complete or that your workday is technically over. This can help you start the process of saving your work or calling it quits for the evening, or just start the wrapping up process to log off.
When you are working from home, logging off for the day does not mean just from your laptop. Develop this habit for yourself to signal your mind that it’s time to stop thinking about work too. Just because you have access to work anytime, doesn’t mean you should be logged in 24/7. After logging off, “go home” even if you are already home. Clear your desk, and turn off your computer to bring a change of atmosphere. Vacate your designated work from home area and move into another part of the house to truly feel the disconnect.
These Essential Tips Will Help In Making Your Working From Home Simple And Effective
At the end of the day, don’t be too hard on yourself and end your day with a routine. Again, it may be very simple, but it will create a habit which signifies the end of the workday. It can be an evening walk, watering your plants, reading your favourite book, an at-home yoga session, playing with your pet or chatting with your family. Even the simplest routine needs to be followed consistently in order to mark the end of work hours. Above all else, you have to figure out what works best for you. You may encounter challenges while trying to stay positive and focused. However, use the aforementioned work from home productivity tips to gain ascendancy over your time and work.
Did our list of work from home productivity tips miss out on something? Let us know in the comments below!