Although a huge chunk of the workforce is currently working from home, most individuals are getting the brunt end of the deal. As glamorous as it seemed at first, working from home has taken its toll on most people.
Nevertheless, with COVID-19 in the picture, the only way forward is through it all. As much as most folks are probably waiting to go back to an office setting, there is no set date for that and, honestly, many companies may never go back to the traditional four walls.
With all of that in mind, it is important that you seek out ways to make the most out of your time working from home while COVID-19 is still at its peak. Here are 9 tips to keep you productive while you are stuck indoors.
Go in with a plan.
If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail; there are so many layers to that statement. Well, in this case, you cannot just approach working from home from a nonchalant angle. There are so many things that could end up distracting you. After all, most office spaces are designed to help you concentrate while the home is more of a comfort zone. So, before the day starts, you should draw up a daily plan that will keep you right on track.
Especially when you are working on your own, there is no one to draw mental energy from or no looming figure of your boss to motivate you to stay on track. So, you have to be that person for yourself. The great part about producing some sort of schedule for yourself is that it is on your own terms. This gives you the liberty to create the kind of day that will suit you. If you want to take microbreaks instead of one huge break, then by all means do that.
Likewise, if you want to sit and stare into thin air during the break or go for a run, it is up to you. Altogether, try to stick to your plan, because giving your day some structure is one of the major things that will keep you from total anarchy, or at the very least, unproductivity.
Create a designated workspace.
Whether you have a separate room to turn into an office or you have to create a little work corner, it is important to mark your territory. This is not just so you can keep other people away from your important documents and the rest. You equally need an area in your home that your brain associates with work. It is counterproductive to simply plop down on your couch or bed, since those areas are mostly used for relaxation.
Again, if you do not have a designated room to turn into a home office, then you can source for somewhere else in your house. Ensure that it experiences minimal traffic, especially if you live with housemates or members of your family. Remember, you do not want to leave your work-related items lying around where they can get muddled up or destroyed. You also do not want to get caught up in household issues when you are on the clock. Altogether, it has to be a place that poses as few distractions as can be to ensure that you get as much work done during work hours.
Venture outdoors regularly.
Sure, you are meant to be staying safely tucked indoors during these trying times, nevertheless, you need to get some vitamin D and fresh air once in a while. Do not stay indoors for a whole 2 hours without taking some time to soak in the sun and perhaps, even enjoy a scenic view. You are already spending an insane amount of time at home, so it is vital that you get outside as much as you possibly can.
It does not have to be for hours at end, you could simply take out some time to walk your dog or even tend to your garden for a bit. There is solid research that shows that spending time in the great outdoors has astronomical psychological benefits; it could really take the toll after a hard day at work. Besides stepping out to get some fresh air, do not make your house a typical office. It is still a home, so you need to look for ways to step out of your work zone, even if you are not going outdoors.
For instance, you could see a nice movie while seated on your comfy couch, cook something tasty with your loved ones or simply enjoy a good book while you lay in bed. You can equally look for ways to stay connected to the people in your life even if they are miles away.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
This point is so important that we had to say it three times. If you are going to remain productive while working from home, then it is imperative that you communicate as much as possible. Be in constant contact with your coworkers and superiors to ensure that you do not get things muddled up. Think about it this way, while working from home, no question is too stupid to ask, it is better to safe than sorry.
Even more, communication is the glue that holds your company together, so staying quiet could cost you more than you could ever imagine. While working in the traditional office setting, it was a lot easier to let others in on important information. But, the barrier of distance, and in some cases, time is in the way. As such, you have to look for innovative ways to keep all stakeholders in the loop.
Thankfully, with technology like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype, you can keep in touch in real-time. Besides, keeping company-related information in circulation, these applications, among others, make it easier for all employees to feel connected. Without that office banter and the usual give and take, it is easy to start feeling isolated and alone. So, keep communication lines open and use them as well, you do not know who you are helping out.
Set up triggers for your brain.
When you had to go into the office, there were activities you engaged in to ensure that you were well equipped for the workday ahead. For instance, you would brew some coffee, take a jog or read the paper. Either way, these were things you did to ready you for the commute ahead. Simply doing these things would trigger your brain for work since it was already your normal routine.
Another thing that could really get you in the mood is a well-defined workspace. Sure, we already covered this some points back, but it truly goes a long way to put your brain into work mode, as such, it was worth mentioning. To ensure that you are more productive, look for ways to mimic your actual office space. If you cannot get a separate room for your work, then ensure that you have a comfortable but well-structured work area.
Altogether, you need to ensure that your space is distraction-free. This is because distractions are the enemy of productivity. The distractions that pop up when working from home are second to no other, so you have to ensure that your mind is guarded against that. To ensure that you do not end up playing yourself, it is a good idea to avoid doing any non-work-related task during work.
For instance, you can get around to doing the dishes after you are done with work. You may end up falling down a rabbit hole of chores that may take you away from work. It equally goes without saying, hitting the refresh button on your social media pages is not the way to go.
Use a to-do-list.
You will never truly know the value of a good to-do-list till you get one. It is a good way to keep you on top of your deadlines, ensure you are organized, productive and even more, you will be motivated to cross things off the list. But how do you arrive at a list that will ultimately help you get things done in time? For one, you should keep all your long-term goals in mind as well as the short-term ones. For the most part, your short-term goals tend to feed into your bigger goals.
As such, it is a good idea to get your smaller goals done first since this gives you a sense of fulfilment. Even more, some of those smaller goals may be part of the bigger goals, so you end up getting a head start on something that may have seemed like a large project. With this system in place, your work may not seem as daunting as it did in its bulk form.
So, do not just attack the day with no laid out plan in mind, you could end up having a brain freeze. Give your day some more structure by writing out a list so you have a visual image of what you must achieve. Simply trying to commit each task to memory is not going to cut it. Even more, the joy that comes with crossing tasks off the list is unlike any other.
At this point, it probably seems like working from home is a solo venture. But, you need to communicate and even interact with others even more than usual. You will still need to attend meetings where decisions are made, feedback is disseminated and assignments are given. With that in mind, it is vital that you look for ways to engage with your colleagues as often as possible. One of the best ways to ensure that everyone engages as often as is necessary, face to face communication is a good way to go.
Yes, you could send an email or Instant mail, but there is a chance that the message may get lost in the clutter, especially if the recipients are getting messages by the second. So, if you need to get some information across in real-time, take advantage of the technology that is perfectly suited to that.
Applications like Slack and Google Hangouts are not a bad way to go. These are a bit more up to speed than the usual Email. If it needs to be more personal, then consider face to face discussion using video conferencing tools, as mentioned earlier. Besides keeping up to date on work issues, these tools help keep you more connected to your entire team.
We are not talking about physical boundaries, in this case, that has probably been covered one too many times. You need to ensure that you let your family members, friends and loved ones know that the fact that you are home is not an indication that you are free to mingle. After all, they probably never stopped over at your office during work hours. This is no different since you are still on the clock.
The truth of the matter is that the fact that you are at home is enough temptation for well-meaning friends to pop in to see how you are coping. As touching as the thought is, this is nothing less than a mere interruption. Even for people with a truckload of self-control, it is easy to get sidetracked when your loved ones come into the picture. To guard against this, let everyone involved know your working hours and when you are ready to come out to play.
Lastly, you need to take good care of yourself. If you end up burning out both physically and mentally, someone else will be right there to take your spot in this dog eat dog job market. So, ensure that you do not rely on junk food to power through the day. Instead, try to eat healthy meals and get as much sleep as you can. It is easy to get carried away with work to the detriment of your personal life, nevertheless, you should try not to lose yourself, stay healthy while staying on top of things.
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