By now, it’s clear that working from home is a new reality for many around the world. And while some have made this adjustment fairly easily, it can be a big, rather difficult change for others. To help you ease into your new routine, we’ve put together our top strategies that we use ourselves in order to get the most out of your day, but also to help you keep your sanity as we learn to work from home.
1. Set Up A Schedule
First and foremost, if you want to actually be productive when working at home, you will need to set up a schedule…and then stick to it. A schedule will greatly help you quickly establish your new routine, and get you and your family adjusted to a new way of life. Create an overall schedule for your week (we’ll cover a daily to-do list a little later), when you’ll check in with colleagues and clients, when you’ll take your breaks, as well as documenting the tasks you want to achieve in your week. This will help you know how and when to schedule your tasks. The saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” really applies to working from home, and this is really a vitally important strategy if you want your time working from home to be a productive, successful endeavor. If you have kids at home with you, planning is even more important, as you will have curious minds to keep entertained on top of your work. But we’ve got you covered! Check out our list at the end of this post for some great tips to help you keep the youngsters occupied and happy while you are on the grind.
2. Create A Designated “Office” Space
Your next strategy for successfully working from home is to create a designated workspace. (FYI: This should NOT be your bed, as you’ll see in the next point.) Whether it’s a place at the dining room table, the kitchen counter, or your home office, be sure to create an environment that will be conducive to productivity and one that has a positive effect on your work. If you don’t have a home office to work from, pick a place in your house that is relatively quiet, and full of as much natural light as possible. Your workspace should also be well-ventilated as this will greatly help in keeping you alert and awake as you work. You should also strive to keep your workplace ordered, as you would at your actual place of work, and make sure that it is well-organized and free from clutter. Have some fun setting up your workspace. Add a little personal flair, grab a plant or two to brighten up the space, but also for all that great oxygen they will pump your way, and you’ll find yourself looking forward to going to “work” each day.
3. Set A Morning Alarm and Get Out of Bed
I get it, you’re at home, without the need to get to the office at a certain time, and so it can be very tempting to turn off your morning alarm. But the tone for a good workday is set first thing in the morning. Try to keep to your usual time of waking up, as keeping to that routine will help motivate you to get going and get to your work. Another almost-irresistible temptation when working from home is to work from the comfort of your cozy bed, but again, this can greatly dampen your productivity. You subconsciously associate your bed with rest and relaxation, which can cause drowsiness and lethargy as you’re trying to work. Not only that, but sitting in your bed does not support your back sufficiently, which can cause uncomfortable back and neck ache. Rather set your morning alarm, get out of bed when it goes off, and you’ll start the day on the right foot.
4. Create a To-Do List
In order to keep yourself on target, a great work-at-home strategy is to make a daily to-do list. This will help keep you focused for each day, fully aware of all that you need to get through, which will help you put the necessary strategies in place in order to tick all those items off your list. It’s really helpful to physically write your to-do list down, either on paper or on your favorite organizer app, rather than keeping it in your head. This will give you a visual motivator to keep going, as well as making sure you don’t forget something important. When you’re at the office, you can be solely focused on work, but at home, it’s easy to pick up other tasks or get distracted by the familiar environment, which may cause you to lose a little focus and forget something off your list.
5. Try Productivity Techniques
If you want to keep your production levels high while working at home, now could be a great time to try some unique time management techniques. The Pomodoro Technique, the Pareto Analysis, or even the Kanban Method are all tried-and-tested methods, but there are so many others to choose from! There are also some really amazing apps you could experiment with to help keep you focused and highly-productive. Now could be the perfect time to find new ways to reinvigorate your drive and motivation and keep your productivity levels sky-high.
6. Stick To “Office” Rules and Routine
One of the biggest downsides to working at home is the number of things that can steal our attention. It can be so easy to fall into bad habits when we are not at the office if we are not careful. Our phones, television, and social media are often the biggest “distraction stealers” so it’s important to set some rules in place. Try stick to your usual office rules when it comes to phone usage and browsing the Internet. If it wasn’t allowed at work, try and implement this in your home office. In the same vein as this, another handy strategy to maintaining your productivity is keeping to your usual routine as much as possible. Consider this as you draw up your schedule, and you’ll be on the road to success.
7. Take Breaks and Keep Fueled
When working from home, taking regular breaks can do wonders for your productivity. It might sound counter-intuitive, but taking regular breaks give your mind and body time to “refresh” themselves and recharge so that they are once again on form and able to tackle the next task. Scheduling regular breaks can really boost your productivity as you’ll have a manageable timeframe within which to complete your tasks. With a break as your motivation, you’ll be motivated to complete your assigned tasks, and the break will feel even better when you know how much work you’ve just completed.
During your break, it’s also a great idea to fuel your body to keep you going during your next stretch. Your body and your mind are your greatest assets in terms of maintaining high levels of productivity, but because you have easy access to your pantry and refrigerator, it can be tempting to be on the constant hunt for snacks. But if you set times for regular breaks, and fuel up with good, healthy munchies, you’ll find that you are better able to concentrate on your tasks when you are back at your workspace. It’s also important to stay hydrated throughout the day. The best way to do this is to keep a bottle of water at your workspace so you can sip away all day.
8. Clock Off
When you are working from home, there is always the temptation to keep on working, well after your usual “business hours” have come and gone. But if you’re going to stay sane during this uncertain time, you’re going to need to learn to clock off come closing time. Your mind and body need time to recuperate, as it would on your normal workday, so make sure when the end of the day comes, you close up shop, go for a walk, take part in a family activity, or listen to your favorite podcast, giving you the time to debrief from work.
9. Embrace The Flexibility
Last but not least, you should give yourself the opportunity to enjoy the flexibility of working from home can provide. Yes, it can be stressful, particularly as we don’t know how long it will be until things return to “normal”. But rather than seeing all the hurdles, focus on all the positives and silver linings that you can enjoy now that you are having to work from home. Wear cozy socks instead of shoes (definitely don’t stay in your pajamas, but go ahead and wear those comfy socks!) or put on a face mask as you work (unless you have a Zoom meeting planned, then perhaps leave the mask for later!) You could sit outside and catch some sunshine and boost your Vitamin D intake during a break, or make yourself an immune-boosting smoothie or juice to keep you fueled. You could even play your favorite tunes as you work, provided they don’t steal your concentration. Overall, rather than looking for all the negatives or things you can’t do, focus on all the pluses you get to enjoy during this time.
And now, as promised, our top tips for keeping your kids entertained while you work from home.
Tips for Working At Home With Children
- If your schedule allows it, set aside some time during the day to spend some special time with them. This could be for a fun activity, a little bit of baking, or even just having a snack together between your activities.
- Plan some stimulating, educational, or just plain fun activities for the day ahead. Cyberspace is full of great ideas to keep children entertained, most of which you can easily recreate at home.
- Make use of free educational videos. There are so many great resources out there for you to make use of! With even more being added daily to help parents out, you’ll find plenty of great content to complement their prescribed school work. Do a little research, and you’ll definitely find some great videos your kids will love learning from.
- Load up on podcasts. Yup! What better way to keep the kiddos entertained than by letting their imaginations run wild as they listen to some stellar shows? There’s a whole host of amazing kid-focused shows out there, and to point you in the right direction, check out some of our favorites here: Best Story-Telling Podcasts for Children (And Their Parents!)
While working from home is not for everyone, in this unpredictable and uncertain time, it is now the new “normal” for many all over the world. But it doesn’t have to be an awful experience. Put our strategies into practice, and you will quickly find your new, productive routine that works best for you. Armed with our tips, you’ll soon discover that you are able to stay home, stay safe, and stay productive.