While there are definitely many praises sung for working from home and how motivating it is, it can be a significant change for some people, requiring some effort to adapt to. With the sweeping changes that have happened because of the coronavirus, many have had to switch to working from home.
Working from home is certainly an opportunity to be closer to family and save money on commutes. However, there can also be serious effects on productivity when you’re so close to your bed and the other niches that you look to for comfort. If you’re having trouble working from home, here are some valuable tips to help you stay productive.
1. A fake commute
A fake commute is something of a morning ritual that helps your brain switch from home mode to work mode. When physically going to work, it would be an actual morning routine of getting ready and going to work. However, since you can’t travel in the house, you can replace the ritual with something else, such as working out, meditating, or even taking a quick shower. It doesn’t need to be too elaborate. The point is to not start working immediately you get out of bed but to instead ease into it.
2. Stand-up meetings
Software companies have popularized the idea of stand-up meetings, where team members gather and share their accomplishments from the previous day, review their short and long term goals, and outline their plans going forward. You can try and implement the same by talking to work colleagues early in the morning. It can be quite motivating!
3. Dedicated workspace
The last thing you want to do is work where you sleep. Yes, it’s a very bad idea to work from your bed. I never write my article from the bed. It never turns out well that way. Don’t sit on places that signal extreme comfort to your brain, such as the couch or bed. Have a dedicated workspace, with the right furniture to get you in the work mood. You can even go the extra mile and have a specific scent, just for your workspace.
4. Video calls
Many veterans of working from home agree that you get more productive when you’re visually and vocally connected to your colleagues. In an actual office environment, this would work since you were physically close to each other. In a home environment, a video call might fill in the gap.
When communicating with your colleagues, consider video calling over emailing. You’ll be able to communicate better since you can see their facial expressions. Also, you might consider staying on a call while working, so that you’re compelled to remain productive. Companies like FocusMate make that easy.
5. Time management techniques
When you’re at home, it’s easy to get distracted and fall into rabbit holes or spend time doing busywork that ultimately has no bearing on the actual work that you’re doing. To make things easier, try a time management strategy to make yourself more productive. One is the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working in 25-minute blocks, followed by a 5-minute break, followed by a big 15-minute break at the end of 4 sprints of working and taking a break.
6. Work when you’re most productive
You’re not going to be at your most productive all day. Working from home gives you the opportunity to schedule your work sprints and meetings around the ebbs and flows of your productivity levels. Once you figure out your most productive periods, try to do the most important work around that time.
7. Make your work schedule the night before
Working from home puts you at risk of two things. You might end up getting so distracted that you don’t do anything, or you might end up focusing on busywork that doesn’t significantly contribute to your goals, even though you work many hours a day. Both are bad.
To make things easier, create a schedule and stick with it. First, try to get everything done within normal work hours. Have a clocking in and clocking out time, just as you would at an actual workplace.
Next, make an outline for what you intend to do the night before. Have time allocated for each task that you need to carry out, down to an hour-by-hour schedule. Once it’s done, stick to that schedule the next day and watch your productivity soar. Again, if there are things that you need to do that are urgent but not important, outsource them.
8. Natural light
Believe it or not, having natural light helps your productivity a lot. Natural light reduces the strain on your eyes and makes it less likely for you to doze off or get a headache. Make sure you get enough natural light in your workspace. Sitting near a window gives you fresh air as a bonus.
9. Stand if you need to
Sitting for long hours is not safe for you. You can try to switch things up by standing. Better yet, get a standing desk. If that’s not possible, you could improvise by working on a dresser or countertop.
10. Get the right furniture for your workspace
Getting a standing desk isn’t the only thing you can do to make your workspace at home conducive for productivity. You can get a good ergonomic chair, an external monitor if you’re using a laptop and an expansive table for your stuff. Don’t forget to keep your workspace neat and tidy, by the way, as that boosts productivity too.
11. Take walks
A walk in the middle of the day is a good way to give your body a break after a busy morning. It makes you more relaxed, more enthusiastic, and less nervous when you get back to work. It also reduces fatigue and improves concentration.
12. Reward yourself
Reward yourself every time you make an accomplishment. When you’ve achieved a milestone, give yourself something, whether it’s a cup of coffee, sometime with your loved one, or a few minutes of your favorite game. Don’t take too long on the game, though, or you’ll never get back to work!
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