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The year 2020 coined the terms “unprecedented,” “quarantine,” “zoom meetings,” and especially “work from home.” While all of these terms aren’t new to any of us, we definitely got bombarded with them this year. The terms even took on new meanings. As a full-time content creator, working from home was not a shock for me. I have worked from home every day since 2018. Many companies started with remote work on a temporary status, but many companies have decided their employees will work from home indefinitely. Whether you’re in the work from home space for a short time or a long time, these tips are guaranteed to increase your productivity.
1. Keep A Routine
Working from home sounds amazing at first. You can work in your pajamas, eat whatever is in the pantry, play with the dog when you’re bored, or even catch up on your favorite show or two between calls. This is not sustainable long-term as far as productivity goes. My favorite way to get a lot done in the day is to keep a schedule as if working in an office. I wake up, have my coffee, work out, grab a quick breakfast and get ready for the day. I then go to my designated work area, which is upstairs, and start my tasks. I give myself an hour for lunch and then go back upstairs to continue working. When I am done with my work, and only when I am done with my work will I do household chores. I know this might look different for those with kids, but it’s so easy to get distracted with laundry and dishes because you can physically see them. If you were stuck in an office, you wouldn’t give that pile of unfolded laundry a single thought. It will be there for you when you are done with work tasks. If we’re honest, my house looks like a disaster on most days. I think that there is an expectation from others of “well your home so the house should be tidy” but remember your work should always be your main priority. I always do a 15 minute tidy before bed, and I feel that is sufficient. Any other major cleaning is done on the weekends.
2. Get Ready
I know sitting around in sweatpants and no makeup on every day is a far-fetched dream for most. But when you’re in relaxed clothing, you become relaxed as well. I grew up in a private school and thought wearing uniforms were absolute torture. Teachers always told us “dress well, test well,” and I never really understood why they said that until recently. There is research that suggests your outfit and environment impacts your performance. I’m not saying I’m sitting in a suit and heels in my office upstairs, but a nice sweater and comfortable pants are usually my go-to. I always make my hair look presentable and splash on a little bit of makeup. You never know when you might have an impromptu meeting or zoom call, and you don’t want to be caught looking like a slob.
3. Separate Your Work Space
While this might be harder to do in a New York City apartment as opposed to a house or condo in Texas, it’s still equally important. Since you’re going to be spending a lot of time at home, it’s best to separate areas for different activities. If you use the same couch for eating, napping, zoom calls, emails, and Netflix, your productivity will decrease because all activities will all run together. It’s hard to turn off work mode if you’re sitting in your work spot. It’s hard to stop that Netflix binge if you’re work spot is the couch. You don’t have to have a spare bedroom or an office to do this. Pick one spot, whether it’s a chair and small table or an area that is otherwise unused for work. Save the couch or bed when it’s after hours.
This also applies to your computer/phone. I work a lot from my phone, but I also relax and watch TikTok, vlogs, and shop from my phone. It’s incredibly distracting to reply to emails and then get a text message from a friend. Once I click on the text, I’m consumed by that conversation. I usually set aside specific times to reply to texts and phone calls. Just because I’m “on my phone all day” doesn’t mean I have to respond to others right away and vice versa. Respect people’s time and get back to them when you aren’t focused on work- unless it’s an emergency. Time batching also helps me stay focused on the task at hand.
4. Time Batch
This strategy will easily become your new best friend. I think it’s also incredibly underutilized because it almost seems elementary. Time batching is when you set a timer (however long you need for the specific task) and do nothing but the chosen task. Time batching for me looks like this most days:
30 minutes of emails
30 minutes of writing
30 minutes of content planning
30 minutes of social media engagement
This is just a small example. I like to switch up what I’m doing so that I don’t get bored. If I need more than 30 minutes of each task, I’ll usually just repeat the set over. Breaking up tasks into small chunks works better for me. I’m not going to sit down and write for 6 hours straight. Be reasonable with the time you’re setting. Don’t set a 5-minute timer to create an entire presentation from scratch. Give yourself enough time to make a large dent in the task or completely finish it. My type-A self even thinks it’s fun to see how much I can get done before the timer goes off.
If you’re new to the WFH home life, it may take an adjustment period to see what works for you. Some days aren’t as productive as others, whether you’re in an office or not. You will eventually find a rhythm that works.