Every day more employers are asking employees not to come into the office. For many people, this will be the first time they’ve had an extended work-from-home experience.
Some people are looking forward to it. Some are already complaining that they miss the social benefits of the workplace.
A few are asking, “How can I stay productive when I’m working from home? I feel like I’m surrounded by so many distractions.”
I’ve been primarily working from home for the past ten years, so I’ve learned a few tricks. You may find these ten tips useful.
Stick to a regular work schedule. Wake up at the same time and get ready for work, just as you would if you were going into an office.
Follow a routine of exercise, breakfast, and getting dressed. Avoid the temptation of lounging around in your pajamas all day.
Set aside a specific area to work from home to get and stay in the right frame of mind. This can be a quiet room or even a particular chair if you don’t have extra space. Find a place where you won’t have visual distractions in your field of view (e.g., I know some people who choose to face a blank wall), the temptation to do something else (e.g., watching Netflix), or get pulled into household tasks (e.g., washing the dishes).
Wear noise-canceling headphones with your “focus music.” I play music just loud enough to block out any environmental noise, but not so loud that I lose focus on my work tasks.
Schedule EVERYTHING on your calendar for each day. That includes meetings and all tasks, no matter how small. I even put my breakfast, workout, lunch, and breaks on the daily schedule.
Overcommunicate with your coworkers who are also working from home. You won’t be able to just drop by someone’s desk or catch up over lunch like you usually do. It’s easy to become isolated and out of touch with each other. Join my community of other remote workers to feel more connected.
Force yourself to stand up and take breaks every hour. I have found that I work longer without moving from my seat than I ever did in an office.
Keep a bottle of water or your favorite beverage nearby. Otherwise, it’s too tempting to take frequent microbreaks to grab a drink and snack. Then, the tiny break turns into longer breaks.
When you do take a break for lunch or a coffee break, take advantage of the fact that you are working from home. Do not try to keep working through your break. Go for a short walk (maintaining social distancing, of course). Eat outside. Have healthy meals ready.
Finally, draw a boundary between your work and personal life. Establish a regular time to quit work and transition into your personal life for the evening. It’s all too easy to work too much when you work from home. That may sound ridiculous, but it’s true. Close your laptop, and put away your work phone.
I hope this helps! Please share your work-from-home tips in the comments.