Four Ways to Be Productive while Working from Home
Due to recent developments of the coronavirus (COVID-19), a lot of us have found ourselves working from home for the first time, and for a lot longer than usual. Keeping up the same level of focus and productivity as you would if you had the option to go into an office at least a few days a week can be challenging. There are some things that you can do to streamline your home office and make sure that your home and work lives are balanced.
Establish Your Workspace
We’ve all been told since we were school pupils that doing your work in the same place that you sleep or eat is a bad idea. However, not everyone has the option of using a separate room as their office. However, there are some ways that you can make sure your workspace is only that.
Find a desk or a table somewhere in your home, ideally somewhere with natural light and ventilation. If it must be in your bedroom, try to put it far from your bed; if it must be in your living room, try to stay as far away from the television as possible.
Keep it tidy — try to keep only important objects on your desk such as documents you are currently working on, your planner, or a notebook. Too much clutter can be distracting and an eyesore; you want your workspace to be as calming and uplifting as possible. That being said, a nice houseplant or succulent can brighten your desk and bring more life to it.
For ways to make your space work for you best, both spiritually and emotionally; look to the ideas of Feng Shui for inspiration. Or take a leaf out of Marie Kondo’s book to tidy your space, and only keep the things that spark joy or serve a purpose.
Schedule Your Day
One of the best things you can do for your time in home office is to carry on acting as if you are going into the office. You may be able to get up a little later or start working earlier as you don’t have to account for commuting time, but nothing else should stop you from keeping your regular schedule. Get ready as usual; get dressed, brush your teeth, do whatever you would normally do before setting off for the office. This helps establish your working hours as a separate event in your day.
Take your usual lunch break. If you normally leave the office for an hour at midday, then continue to do that! Leave your designated workspace, head to the kitchen or even outside (if this is possible) and take a proper break. We all know that working for too long without breaks decreases productivity so take some time to rest your brain and refuel your body. If your family or roommates are around, this could be a good time to catch up like you usually would with your colleagues on your lunch hour. It’s also a good opportunity to stretch your legs; maybe fit in a walk around the block or garden before sitting back at your desk.
When you have finished your usual working hours, log off. Close the computer and put away any papers or notes you were using. Now you can stand up and leave your “office” and not return until the next morning. Make sure to leave your desk in a state that you want to return to again.
Stay on Track
When you’re working at home, there can be more distractions than in the office. Especially if you live with others or are easily distracted by that cobweb in the corner of the room that you’ve been meaning to dust for ages. Luckily, there are lots of tricks and tools that you can use to keep yourself on track.
You may have noisy neighbors or roommates, in which case noise-cancelling headphones are your best friend! Whichever music-streaming platform you use probably has a wide range of focus or concentration playlists for you to pick from, or you can even make your own. And for those who even find music too distracting; you can use noise-cancelling headphones without the tunes!
If your phone is your worst enemy when it comes to concentration, there are lots of ways to keep it from distracting you. Apps such as Forest stop you from using your phone for however long you set the timer on them. With the pro version of Forest, you can even whitelist some apps if there’s some things that you just can’t work without.
If you are working at home, of course, you will suddenly remember all the jobs that need doing around the house or phone calls that need to be made. Take a notepad and jot down these things when they come to you, then you don’t need to think about them again until your working day is over. Before you know it, you’ll have a long to-do list to keep you busy when you’re social distancing over the weekend!
Remember That This Is Temporary
If home office life really isn’t working out for you even though you try to make the most of it, then try to remember that it is only a temporary (but necessary) phase. Hopefully, soon enough you will be back in your office with your colleagues, sharing stories and ideas without having to type them out or find a good enough internet connection for a video call.
This time is bringing new challenges for all of us every day, not just in our working lives. In a few years, we will be able to look back with pride on how we managed to adapt and rise to the challenge and laugh at the unconventional “offices” we worked from. If anything, it’s a new experience and we will all be much more flexible workers than before; having learnt how to stay on track in different environments.