The entire world has been thrown into a tailspin because of the spread of the COVID19 virus. We are stuck indoors in almost complete lockdown. But a business cannot grind to a halt because of contagion.
In avoiding the office, people are now venturing into the world of working from home. Some, like freelancers, are old hats at this. For most, though, this is an entirely new challenge.
Here are ten tips for staying focused and productive when working from home.
Do maintain a regular schedule.
Without your employer hovering over you, it might seem like it is perfectly fine to slack, but this will kill your efficiency.
Productivity relies on having a clear schedule with targeted goals. Setting a timetable gives you the structure you need to get the most out of your day. And, most importantly, it will keep you motivated.
Plan what you’re going to do ahead of time and have your schedule start from the moment you wake up.
Don’t stay in your pyjamas.
You’re at home, so it is undoubtedly tempting to laze around in pyjamas all day. But this will pull you out of the work mindset.
To remain motivated throughout the day, start as you mean to continue. Get up, have a shower and get dressed as you would on any typical workday. Pretend that you are actually going in to work.
Do get started early.
Now is not the time to be losing crucial hours of productivity in the morning. Set your alarm and wake up as you normally would. Weekends are for sleeping in.
Don’t work from your bed.
There must be clear boundaries. You may think that working in bed is harmless, but in reality it fogs your mind and makes you feel sluggish.
When you get up in the morning, make your bed. That way, you won’t be tempted to lay back with your laptop. This practice helps you to work more efficiently and, importantly, it preserves your bedroom as a zone of rest and relaxation rather than work.
Do create a dedicated workspace.
Just as you have a desk or office at work, create a similar work zone at home. When you enter it, it is time to hit the ground running. As your workspace, this is not the area for cat videos or Netflix…
Don’t forget to take breaks.
…but you can always catch up on that video your friend sent in one of your breaks. As you would in the office, get up from your desk and move. Walk over to the kitchen and make a cup of tea, and maybe drink it in the terrace.
Don’t think that you deserve a break whenever you get distracted, though. Schedule your breaks to reward yourself for having worked efficiently in the run-up to your moment of peace.
Do stay connected.
Even if you don’t feel isolated because you’re surrounded by family at home, don’t isolate yourself from your co-workers and boss. Prolonged isolation from your work peers leads to weakened motivation.
When working from home, staying connected does take some extra effort, though. Use technology. Voice call, video call or chat – whatever it is, visibility is crucial.
And you don’t even need to talk about work all the time. Just as you’d head out for a beer with colleagues, schedule a video call after work hours to clink glasses virtually.
Don’t get lost on social media.
If your mind is on the latest Facebook or Instagram posts, it certainly isn’t focused on work. Some offices have stringent rules about checking social media at work, so carry these rules over to your workspace at home.
Don’t get distracted by social media while in your dedicated workspace, especially at this time when there are a number of fake news portals being circulated in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Do have calls in the afternoon.
The afternoon slump is a battle fought every day – even in the office. As much as possible, save your peak productivity hours in the morning to work on those solitary tasks that require your full attention. Scheduling collaborative work for the afternoon tricks you into avoiding the slump.
Don’t ignore the housework.
One of the challenges of working from home is that we are surrounded by chores that weirdly seem more appealing than work. Manipulate this to your advantage.
Use your laundry as a timer – set it going, then sit down and power away at work. Take a break when the laundry is done. Using breaks to hang up your clothes or put away dishes is also an excellent way of getting you off your chair and including some regular movement in your day.
For more tips and tricks for working effectively both at home and in the office, keep an eye on the RE/MAX blog.