Work from home, they said!
Yay, we said!
We can work in our pyjamas with Netflix on and eat whenever we want? Sign us up, we said!
But then we actually do it, and it turns out that working from home is not that easy.
If you are suddenly working from home having never really done it before, you might be finding it difficult to establish a routine and get things done. But we are here to the rescue with some helpful tips to keep your work/life balance, stay sane and stay productive.
1. Start the day on your own terms
Figure out a morning routine (if you don’t already have one) that suits you. You’ve probably gained extra time in the mornings if you previously had a commute to work. Use that time for YOU. Don’t just roll out of bed and get straight on your computer.
If you make some peaceful time for yourself in the morning, you will be feeling more awake and motivated by the time you sit down to work. This could be spending half an hour reading in your garden with a cup of coffee, doing a workout, listening to a podcast while making breakfast… whatever you want it to be. It can be helpful to keep your phone on Do Not Disturb mode during this time, so you’re not tempted to check your email until the working day has begun.
Although the temptation is there to spend all day in your yoga pants (yep, me too), it’s important that a part of your morning routine before work includes getting dressed. This is very challenging when you’re going to be at home all day and just want to be comfortable, however, the way you are dressed has a psychological effect on your mindset. Your brain associates loungewear with lounging. Dress for success, and you’ll approach the day with a more ambitious mindset!
2. Have a designated workspace
If you have a home office, you’re all set up! If you don’t have one, but if you can designate a space where you can work with everything you need in front of you and shut the door, this is ideal. Also, if possible, make sure there is not a TV in this room. A closed door to keep people and animals away from your space, as well as limiting technology, will help eliminate distractions. Just like when you go to your office, you sit at your own desk and that is where get into the ‘work mode’, you need a space where you can get into that ‘work mode’ at home.
3. Communicate more
This one cannot be stressed enough!
You will likely experience some issues in communication at home, and virtually with your team, and with your staff.
If your employer isn’t used to their team working remotely, they will probably be experiencing some stressful thoughts such as “are my staff even doing anything right now or are they watching Netflix?” because they can’t see you and they aren’t used to that.
Whatever your usual form of communication is with your team, be it email, phone calls, or a chatbot messenger like Slack, it’s never been more important to keep those communication lines open and active.
4. Make a prioritised to-do list
You should probably be practising this at work usually anyway, and you should keep this up when working from home. You may be in a position where you need to be doing a lot more online communication than usual – be it emailing or connecting with your team on Slack. If you don’t have a clear list of the things that you absolutely have to get done, it’s easy for those tasks to get lost to distractions at home and distractions from your work computer.
Lists are often never-ending, and you won’t always get everything done, but scheduling in time for these tasks can help to structure your week.
If your list is overwhelming, calendar blocking could help. Book time in your calendar for the high priority tasks, then the medium priority ones, and then fill in the gaps with the lower priority tasks.
You can do this for all the other things you need to do and want to do at home too, not just work-related tasks. This way you can create a solid structure for your time (which can otherwise be difficult when you are at home all the time) and feel relaxed that you can get it all done.
5. Set boundaries with those you are living with
Again, this one is going to be difficult. If you have children, they are going to need structure in their day and if they don’t, they are going to be distracting you. Same goes if you have a significant other who doesn’t quite get it that you’re still having to work and you’re not just available all the time to hang out.
It can be confusing for people who don’t work from home and now you’re at home all the time, that you are still ‘at work’. Set clear boundaries about when you will be working and request that you are not disturbed during this time.
6. Avoid your phone
Your phone is a huge distraction. A lot of the people you know are currently stuck at home with nothing to do and therefore online activity has surged. If you want to focus on your work and not be distracted by constant notifications from group chats going off, sending each other Boris Johnson memes, you need to do something about it. If putting your phone on silent isn’t enough, put it on Do Not Disturb mode or leave it in another room away from your workspace. If you need to use your phone for your work, consider muting notifications from some of your non-work-related apps while you are on the clock.
7. Take your lunch break, away from your desk
Make sure you do take your allocated lunch break. It doesn’t matter what time you choose to take it, but it’s good to plan that time in. Taking a break from your work is important – so don’t make lunch and then eat it at your desk. Switch up your environment; take your lunch out to your garden or just move into the living room and watch an episode of something, whatever works for you. Just get away from the desk and enjoy your break.
8. Don't snack all day
When you’re working from home, it is TOO easy to constantly go to the kitchen and snack all day long! It’s not good for you, especially when you are less active than usual, and you can’t get work done when you’re eating all day.
9. Get moving
Sitting at your desk all day isn’t doing anything good for your posture or your mind. Find a way of getting active once a day, whether that’s going for a jog, doing yoga in your garden, or following a 30 minute workout on Youtube. Exercise has a huge number of health benefits including brain function and ability to focus, and it will help reduce your cabin fever!
10. Prepare for your video meetings
Going to do a Google Hangout or a Zoom meeting with a client? Practice it first with a colleague to make sure you don’t have any technical issues. Internet connection, lighting and sound are all factors in online meetings, and you will want to know how you are being perceived. Prepare for your online meeting with the same professionalism that you would prepare for a face-to-face meet.
11. Make yourself useful to others
Now is a great time to lend your hand to others in your team where they might need more support, and also go above and beyond for your clients. People will remember who reached out to help them during this time, so this is an opportunity to show your worth. Plus, helping others feels good!
12. Switch off at the end of the day
You may be having to work more flexibly to support your clients right now, which might mean hopping to their aid during unsociable hours at times. But, where you can, try to switch off from work at the end of your working day. It’s really important to clearly differentiate work time and leisure time. By turning off your computer and your emails, you can enjoy your evening without feeling like you are constantly in the office.
Do you have any great productivity tips for working from home that we haven’t mentioned?
Let us know in the comments to this post on our Facebook page!