Depending on your industry, you might be working from home. Working from home is the new norm, especially with all the events that transpired in the past year.
On the upside, you can make the most out of your time, whether it is having:
- An extra but impromptu coffee break
- A quick check-in on how your kids are doing
- Opportunity to eat home-cooked meals
- Stretches in between Zoom calls
- Some music to accompany your tasks
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. While there are many more freedoms associated with working at home, there are plenty of other problems too.
These can include:
- Trying to not let your home life interfere with your work
- Ensuring the kids don’t walk in while you’re doing a conference call
- Not wearing appropriate attire because you slept in
Anyway, here are some tips to ensure that you are your most productive while working at home.
1. Build Your WorkStation
When you work from home, you have to be strategic about your work station. Maybe you already have a man cave, where you have your giant TV, dual-screen computer monitors, unlimited beer or wine in the pantry, a gaming headset, and so much more.
Apply that logic to your workstation. If you need to, find another place in your home that can be converted into a home office space. Keep it simple, because elaborate plans can be hard financially.
Make sure you add some locks to your door while you’re at it too. You don’t want your spouse or kids walking in by accident while you’re doing an important call.
2. Invest in Some Good Equipment
Setting up an office is quite an investment, especially since you might need to buy a lot of things remotely given the current rules and laws. Just like starting a small business, you’re going to need the following:
- A good desktop computer with a built-in camera and mike
- A good mouse and keyboard
- Decent headphones/earphones
- Optimal lighting, like a lamp
- High-speed internet
- A good ergonomic or gaming chair
- A Microsoft Office Suite subscription
- Some notepads, pens, rulers, etc.
Obviously, this list is not exhaustive, but if you’re going to work well, you need to feel your most comfortable with the equipment that you do have. Sure, it will cost some money, especially with ensuring your internet and equipment is top-tier, but it will be worth it, as a spotty connection is going to cause problems down the line.
3. Schedule Your Time Proactively
Every person should have a schedule. When we’re not working, going with the flow is okay, but when it comes to working remotely, you really have to make sure that you have a decent schedule going on.
For example, maybe you can write up a mock schedule in Excel, and map out your plans for the week. You can even set up notifications on Outlook if you wanted to.
You can allocate time for non-work commitments, like taking care of the kids and paying the bills. Finally, you can also set up some time for fun, especially if you want to reduce future burnout.
The beauty of working from home is that there is more time afforded to you since you don’t have to commute on the highway for several hours and you can sleep in for an hour or two.
However, such freedom is a burden because if we take our time for granted, that extra time will magically slip away, so take advantage while you can.
4. Emphasize a Work-Life Balance
It’s easy to let work creep into your personal life and your personal life to creep into your work life. However, try your best to separate the two. It first starts with the physical arrangement of your space.
For example, your office is in a converted office room, locked and away from the prying eyes of others. However, keep your meal breaks in your kitchen, and don’t try to bring your food to your computer screen.
It’s not professional.
Plus, if the worst comes to worst, let your partner and family know that you need to work and to not bother them for X hours. Sure, you wander outside your room and maybe check in on the family, for some minutes at a time, but they will understand. I mean, they might be working as well and will be more than understanding.
5. Optimize Your Productivity Periods
Some people are optimal at the strangest times of the day. Maybe you struggle to get work done in the early morning. Perhaps you are most optimal in the hours before bed. Maybe you’re a night owl.
In that case, do your most important tasks at night then. Instead of waking up to 1000 tasks, maybe do half of them the night before. That way, you can sleep more soundly. Even if you did accidentally wake up late, at least you got most of your work done.
6. Create Daily To-Do Lists
Sometimes time management is not our strong suit, instead, so maybe you have a list of duties ahead of you. Maybe you can write them down or type them out. Allocate numbers to each task, based on their importance and severity.
Work your way through the tasks. If one task is too confusing, get back to it later (if you can) or even break down the task into smaller subsections that are easier to handle.
Plus, there’s plenty of productivity apps out there to help encourage us to do our tasks. Since the boss is likely not breathing down on your neck, it can be easy to lose sight of your priorities.
Some infamous “to-do” apps include:
At the end of the day, review the list, including the proposed list for the next day, so that you can sleep with the knowledge that you know what exactly you are doing.
7. Don’t Work in the Living Room
Maybe you don’t have space in your house so you’re forced to work in the living room. That’s a surefire way to get distracted, especially if you have kids running around and a kitchen wafting lovely smells towards you.
Instead, try to work in a quiet or remote room if you can. When you’re tired, get up, walk around briefly, and maybe enjoy the view of your window or wave hello to the family. Walk back, and sit back down.
When we walk around, we can trick our brains into feeling relaxed and cause ourselves to come up with a new and novel solution when we least expect it. Plus, sitting in one spot all the time can cause our backs, arms, and legs to hurt.
8. Exercise and Stretch In Between Tasks
It can be hard to exercise, especially if the gym is closed. Instead, we have to make do with what we have, whether it is a DIY gym in our backyard or even a treadmill in the basement. Maybe one corner of your basement would be the best place for your office.
You type into the computer for something hours, and then pace towards the opposite end of the room, blow off some steam, stretch, clean up, and then come back to the computer again.
I mean, exercise will motivate us, and give us consistent energy. Plus, the stretching will help us against back pain or any other body pain.
Plus, you can leave yourself motivational sticky notes or reminders on your phone that you’re doing a great job, so that it’s the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see before you head for bed.
9. Eat Well but Smart
When we work from home, it’s tempting to open up a bag of chips and leave it propped up against the computer desk. However, that’s a bad idea to bring your food onto the workspace since that will just spiral into a series of bad ideas. Plus, no one likes a sticky keyboard.
Instead, just have some light snacks. While working, you do your thing, but if you need, to grab some cashews and trail mix in the kitchen, snack on it, and then run back. Alternatively, you can eat your lunch at the kitchen table for several minutes, wash your hands, and then run back. If you’re really pressed for time, you can blend fruits and vegetables, and drink it up.
If you do find yourself bringing water onto your computer desk, just make sure it’s a closed water bottle. No one wants the water bottle spilling over and causing damage to your expensive equipment.
10. Create a Rewards System
Life is not a video game, but you can make it like one. You can set aside objectives on tasks that you need to complete, and give yourself a reward for a job well done. Perhaps that reward is a kiss on your child’s cheek, a quick stroll into your garden, or even a light snack. Maybe you can pretend that the reward is like a temporary mana potion.
Without these potions, it’s going to be hard to navigate the infamous boss battle.
Either way here’s to hoping that you’re able to make the most out of your time, whether you work at home or not. As for the rest of us, we can only hope that we are able to handle our emotions while navigating the changing landscape of work.