Most of us are spending much more time at home these days—much more time. You are most likely reading this from home at the kitchen table or living room couch. Some of you probably have a dog or cat staring at you, wondering why you are not at work. These are most definitely weird times in the world. Working from home brings its challenges; for most of us, staying productive and focused is proving to be complicated. Keeping your mind on work with your family, pets, and television, all stealing your attention can be quite tricky.
Here are a few tips to help keep you focused while at home.
Get Ready for the Day
It can be tempting to sleep in and stay in your jammies all day. Or only get ready from the waist up for the zoom meetings 😉 If you are finding it hard to flip the switch into work mode, this may be the place to start. Somehow being in my pajamas and slippers makes it difficult to feel “professional.”
It can be tempting to set your alarm to later in the day or hit snooze a few more times since you don’t have any commute but resist the temptation! Wake up each day and get ready as if you were headed into the office. Same alarm time, same morning workout schedule, have your breakfast with your usual morning routine, and then sit down for work. Keeping your conventional methods will help you move into your “work-mode.”
I spoke with someone who would take a walk around the block before sitting down to work. My friend called it his new commute to work; it helped him make that mindset change. Find what works for you and go with it! There are no perfect answers right now, so ask others what they are doing and discover your new routine.
Set up a designated workspace
Depending on your situation, this can be difficult; not everyone is lucky enough to have a home office where they can close the door, not have distractions, and be productive. My husband already works from home, so our office was already occupied. I am working at a make-shift desk in my bedroom. While it is not my spacious desk at the office and the view is not as beautiful, I can close the door for privacy and to reduce distractions, and have some natural light to get things done. It by no means would be a great long term set-up, but for the world, we are temporarily living in, it gets the job done.
Where ever you set up your office, be sure it is somewhere you can avoid the temptations we find at home. You need to be able to ignore the doorbell, tune out the family (can you say noise-canceling headphones?!), and not run to the fridge every twenty minutes. Be sure to be comfortable and have the space to set up the things you want and need. That can range from a place for your phone, a drink, some flowers, or your favorite picture. Whatever makes it “your space.”
Keep a schedule, including breaks.
Generally, at work by 7:30? Take lunch at 1:00 and end work at 4:00? Follow the same hours while working from home. Regardless if you work part-time, full time or somewhere in-between keeping the same hours helps you stay focused, lets your co-workers know when they can get ahold of you and when your friends and family need to do their best to leave you alone.
Taking breaks is essential to a productive day. Science has proven you will get more done in your workday if you include breaks. Don’t let guilt keep you at your desk for hours on end, you are not doing yourself, or your company any favors. Grab some coffee or diet coke. Walk the dog around the block, meditate, or play with your kids. It seems counter-intuitive, but walking away from work for 20-30 minutes at least a few times a day will help you knock out that to-do list and be more productive.
When your workday is over, make it be over. Just because work is constantly nearby doesn’t mean you always need to be working. Work/life balance is key to being productive. Do something to help you transition from work to home mode. Some people have a saying, others put their laptops away in their bag, out of sight, or take that same walk around your block and call it your commute home. Find what works for you and use it, It may seem a little silly at first, but it can help change your mindset.
You, your family, your friends, and your company will benefit from you not working extra long hours. Of course, there are times when an extra-long workday is necessary, but don’t make a habit of working past your regular work hours just because you are working from home these days.
What changes have you made in your work-life since these circumstances? Are you enjoying working from home or can’t wait to get back to the office? Either way, staying productive and busy during uncertain times brings us a routine and a sense of normalcy that we all crave.