Millions of us around the world are now working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns. Some of us couldn’t be happier that we get to spend more time with our loved ones each day, but it can also be a real challenge to keep productive whilst being at home. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to make sure you keep things ticking over whilst working from home.
1 - Pretend that you’re going to work
It’s easy to take for granted how much our morning routine and commute prepares us mentally so that we’re ready to get cracking once we’re at the office.
It can be a little bit tricky to get your mind in the same place when you’re working from home, but it can still be done. The first step is to do everything you’d usually do when you’d be going to work up until the point you leave the house.
This may seem a bit excessive, but the process of getting ready for going to the office gets you mentally prepared to actually do some work. Without this, trying to be productive is like jumping straight in at the deep end each morning.
2 - Find your new ‘office’ within your home
Now that you’re keeping up with your morning routine to prepare yourself mentally for productivity, you need to find yourself a new office at home.
Find somewhere that you can start to mentally associate with work, rather than leisure time. Our brains have certain associations with our workplaces, so we find it easier to get stuff done because our minds are already in that ‘work zone’.
This can be much harder for some of us, especially if the whole family is in the house, but be resourceful and do your best to find somewhere quiet that you can now start to see as your ‘work’ place.
If you can’t find a separate space altogether, use a different chair or surface to work from - anything that breaks the norm.
3 - Communicate with those at home
One of the biggest issues many of us will face during our time working at home is coping with the distractions of having others at home when we’re trying to be productive.
Communication is the key here. Be honest with everyone and make sure they understand that you need your space to get work done during your set work hours, and that just because you’re at home doesn’t mean that it’s a free-for-all.
It won’t be easy for some of us with particularly distracting households, but remember: it’s only temporary until all of this blows over.
4 - Schedule your day like you would at work
You need to be on top of your own schedule when you’re working from home. Without in-person meetings and other workplace interactions to give your day some structure, your time is just one big empty void. If you’re not careful, this is a recipe for losing focus and burning out.
Plan your days, and keep on schedule. Segment out what you’ll be doing during the day, and use a daily planner or calendar to keep track of your time.
Just like in our first tip, try to keep your daily schedule as close to what you’d be doing at the office. If you reply to emails as soon as you get to the office, that should be the first task you do when you start work from home too. Try and take your breaks and eat lunch at a similar time as well.
5 - Plan your day the day (or night) before
Following on from our previous tip, we recommend planning your days ahead well in advance. It can be a real hurdle to getting work done if you have to plan what you’re doing just before you get on with it.
By planning in advance, once you get to your new ‘work’ place, you can get straight into things without having that barrier of decision-making early in the day when you haven’t got enough coffee in your system yet.
Furthermore, having your schedule worked out in advance will help you fall asleep easier at night as your mind will be more at ease. Of course, your day may need to change depending on what comes up, but having a plan will give you more confidence to get started in the mornings.
6 - Make sure you have the right tools for your job
Do you have everything you need at home in order to get your work done effectively? We take it for granted how our workplaces come pre-loaded with all the bits and bobs we need to get our jobs done efficiently, but this isn’t always the case at home.
If your computer can’t hack the apps you need to keep connected to your colleagues, and your internet connection isn’t robust enough to handle conference calls, maybe now’s the perfect time to invest in a better laptop or broadband connection so you can make life a lot easier for yourself over the coming weeks or months. You can compare broadband deals with usave and switch to a better, faster deal now.
7 - When it comes to social media: get disciplined, or delete it
Another issue many of us will face when trying to get work done from home is avoiding the distractions of social media - especially when we’re using our personal computers instead of our workplace device, and there’s no one around to police us.
If you’re someone who can’t resist the temptation to poke around on social media, it’s probably a good idea to remove all your social media apps and shortcuts on your laptop and phone during the work day.
Log out of everything and clear your history so that your browser doesn't unwittingly distract you by autocompleting what you’re typing into the web address bar. You can redownload everything at the end of the day when all your work is done.
It can seem a bit extreme, and a bit of a pain to keep deleting and reinstalling apps, but it really is easy to get sucked into the social media rabbit hole just from a single click in a moment of weakness.
By all means, if you think you can hack it without having to go to such measures then have a go. But if you find yourself relapsing, it’s probably a good idea to just nix them altogether.
8 - Take breaks!
A strange side-effect of working from home is that many people fall into a habit of trying to slog it all out without taking any breaks along the way. Remember: you may be at home, but this is still work. Take breaks just like you normally would.
Get away from your desk, stretch your legs, and take your mind off of work for a bit. One of the advantages of being at home is that you can spend some time with others in the house. Be disciplined though: have a set time for your break and then get back to it.
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