As millions of workers across the country grapple with their new reality of working from home because of the pandemic, it can be tough to establish boundaries between your professional and personal life. While a traditional office environment has its drawbacks — like a potentially long commute and office politics — but it also gives employees predictability. Without the regular 9-to-5 office structure to rely on, some workers are struggling to be as productive as they were before — especially in the face of issues like burnout and general distraction. Below, we’ve put together some tips to help you stay focused and productive while working from home. Keep reading to learn how to create balance and positivity in a remote work environment.
Tip #1: Start the Day off Right
Even if you don’t consider yourself a morning person, you can still use the morning to create a routine for yourself that helps you ease into the workday. Your morning routine doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as making breakfast and drinking coffee as you peruse the news. Or, you might want to be active first thing in the morning and begin your day with a jog or bike ride.
You can also use the morning to create a little self-care ritual. Maybe that involves thirty minutes of yoga or meditation, or perhaps a long shower followed by a face mask. Whatever it is, your self-care time should be spent doing something relaxing that you thoroughly enjoy.
Tip #2: Keep a Regular Schedule
It can be easy to lose track of time when you’re working from home — especially if you’re breaking up your day by doing things around the house or have kids or pets vying for your attention. A good way to stay on track throughout your workday is by keeping a consistent schedule. Try to wake up at the same time each morning, eat breakfast within a couple of hours of waking, and do your hardest task first while your brain is “fresh”. You should also schedule breaks in between completing different tasks or hitting certain progress milestones.
Of course, keeping a set schedule that never changes is not realistic for most workers. Sometimes, you’ll need to work a little later to meet with a client or colleague in another timezone, for example. But if that happens, make sure you account for that the next day in your schedule by sleeping in later.
Time-tracking apps like Everhour can help ensure that you’re sticking to your schedule. You can use the data you glean from time-tracking to figure out when you’re at your most productive and when you start to slack off (aka when you should take a brain break).
Tip #3: Take Breaks Throughout the Day
Make sure you give yourself time away from your computer screen and phone. Try to leave your apartment or house and get outside for a little bit if the weather permits. Leaving your work environment can give you the break you need to finish out your workday strong.
And don’t shortchange yourself with breaks, either. If you normally would take an hour break for lunch in the office, give yourself an hour break at your home. You can even set a time for 60 minutes if you want to make sure you’re giving yourself the full break.
Tip #4: Ask For What You Need
If you’re working for a company that requires you to work from home, make sure you have everything you need to actually do your job. That might mean you need to buy a desk, monitor keyboard, computer chair, software, printer, and anything else required to complete the tasks of your position. With that said, there’s no harm in asking your company to help reduce the cost of office supplies or even a stipend to reduce the impact of higher utility bills.
Tip #5: Create a Real Office Space
Although not every remote worker will have a dedicated separate office to work from, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a suitable place to get work done in your small apartment or home. Try to find a quiet space in your living area that you can use and dedicate to work — even a corner can be a good office environment.
Tip #6: Keep in Touch with Colleagues
When you don’t have casual watercooler conversations with your coworkers, it’s very easy to feel isolated and lonely. If you’re feeling disconnected from your fellow workers, consider joining or creating virtual meet-ups and happy hours that allow you to socialize. Some companies might even host virtual events to keep workers united and connected.
But if your company leadership lacks the resources or motivation to put together virtual bonding events, you might have to be more proactive about finding ways to get to know and stay connected with coworkers. For example, you can choose someone to have a coffee break with on your team and do a quick 15-minute Zoom meeting. Or, maybe on Mondays you can host Zoom meetings to discuss the activities of the past weekend with your department. These are just ideas to get you started, but they can help you feel less lonely while you’re working remotely.
Tip #7: Take Your Sick Days
Remember, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should work while you’re sick. If you’re not feeling well, opt to use a sick day rather than trying to suffer through a full day of work at home. The stress and lack of rest can end up prolonging your illness.
Conclusion: Working from Home and Staying Productive
When you’re suddenly working from home without the structure of an in-person office environment, it can leave you scrambling to adapt. And although the stress of a pandemic and uncertainty can eat into your productivity, you can take steps to ensure that you feel more focused and optimistic. Follow the tips outlined in this article so you can enjoy a more productive and rewarding workday.
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is the managing editor for 365 Business Tips as well as runs a personal blog, Mixed Bits Media. She lives in San Diego, California, and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.
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