Working from home can get exhausting, especially if you have been doing it since the pandemic began. At home, you can easily get distracted by your chores, home routines, or your surroundings. Don’t be too hard on yourself; with enough patience and practice, you can learn to manage your time in smarter ways. In the meanwhile, here are eight ways to help you stay productive when you live and work from the same place!
1) Plan a weekly schedule.
Even if you have the flexibility to work your own hours, having a routine planned out can make sure you stay on track and on top of your priorities. It can be hard when there isn’t anyone to hold you accountable for showing up at work, and we all know how it feels to have a pile of dirty laundry taunting you while you’re on a Zoom call with your colleagues.
There are no rules when it comes to working from home, and that is both a great and a terrible thing.
An easy solution is to make a productivity plan. Keep it simple and promise yourself to adhere to it. This is a great practice in self-discipline, and it also alleviates the stress of worrying about how you’re going to get everything done in time.
When plotting your weekly schedule, start with your basics. You should know what time you wake up, when you go to sleep, and which hours of the day you are most productive. Structure your day by writing down your responsibilities (kids to pick up from school?), and use your most productive time blocks to tackle your hardest work. It doesn’t have to be just about work; maintain balance in your life by scheduling in time to exercise, see your friends, and even empty blocks of time to do whatever you feel like doing at that moment. There are apps and software to help you, or you could invest in a beautiful planner if that gets you excited.
2) Turn on the brakes and take a break!
You are not a machine. Don’t overwork yourself or it could lead to a burn out. Take breaks when needed – schedule them in even – to keep your stress levels down and your productivity up. There is plenty of scientific evidence to show the positive correlation between employee productivity and taking regular breaks. If you feel a mid-afternoon slump coming on, step away from your desk to take a brisk walk or read a chapter of a book. Breaks are particularly useful during challenging projects, as they give you an opportunity to clear your head and come back to your task with a fresh perspective, allowing room for creativity to be boosted.
3) Make use of online tools to improve efficiency.
There are plenty of programs, websites and software which people have created to assist you in productivity, and they can make your life tremendously easier. For example, make use of browser shortcuts to quickly access websites you use often. On browsers such as Chrome, you can even create different user profiles, which comes in handy if you work with multiple clients. Use browser extensions such as Toggle to track your time, and websites such as Trello to manage your tasks. Google Docs and Google Sheets are a great tool for collaborative documents which allow real-time comments and annotations, saving your team from having to download and edit multiple copies of the same document. If you are a tab hoarder, use an extension such as xTab to limit how many you can open. One of our favourites is a Dark Mode tool to relax your eyes after you’ve been working away online for hours!
4) Designate and design a dedicated workspace.
One of the best ways to maintain a work/life balance is to keep it separate… which is hard when you are working and living under the same roof. It doesn’t have to be an entire room; even dedicated a corner for your work can give you a tremendous boost in productivity. Use design elements that will get you into the right headspace. For example, you want a well-lit space preferably with a nice view, but you don’t want to be constantly distracted by what’s going on outside the window! Make sure the space is free of clutter, as your surroundings can often act as a reflection of your mind. Decorate your workspace with objects that motivate you and get your creative juices flowing. Invest in a good office chair, and use plants to add a natural ambience around your electronics. If you are a digital nomad, consider getting a membership to a co-working space if you tend to be motivated by others working around you as well. Co-working spaces understand that you need the right environment, and are there to cater to all your working needs.
5) Communicate with your colleagues efficiently.
Productive communication has become more important than ever before, given that we are no longer seeing each other face-to-face as often as we used to. Remind yourself to maintain open lines of communication between your colleagues and managers. Check in on each other and ask questions, even if they are not work-related. If you haven’t been specified any particular way to do so, make sure you update your boss on your progress and any issues you may be facing every now and then. When working as part of a team, make sure everyone is in loop and tasks are carefully planned out. Ask for feedback where you need it. Humans need interaction with each other on a regular basis, so just because you’re working alone from home now doesn’t make the need go away, so make sure you are still communicating effectively!
6) Set your working hours and tell everyone.
Maintain a clear work/life balance by setting your working hours, and make sure everyone you live with knows when you are working so that you can’t be distracted. Outside of these hours, make sure you give yourself time to do other things; work is not your entire life. Establishing these limits will avoid burnout and stress to great degrees!
7) Make your downtime productive.
Working from home is a great opportunity to learn new skills and explore new hobbies, so why not make use of your downtime efficiently? You can do this by enrolling in online courses, browsing industry-related forums, or participating on relevant social media platforms. You might find yourself interested and really good at something you never even thought of before. Your leisure time, or any time that you’re not working on your job, can be as productive as you allow it to be.
8) There’s never been a better time to adopt healthy habits.
No more office commutes and more time at home give you fewer excuses to find the time to exercise! Working from home gives you the opportunity to be creative when it comes to staying active. Try to integrate small routines throughout your day. For example, you could do 20 jumping jacks at the top of every hour you spend at the computer, effectively giving you micro-workouts and a break from the screen at the same time. Forget your lunchtime grab-and-go sandwiches; being at home all day also gives you the opportunity to cook fresh and healthy meals, which will also provide brain nourishment for better work. Replace the time you save from your morning commute for a meditation session so that your mind is calm and clear, perfect to begin a day’s work. Whether your work-from-home situation is temporary or longer-lasting, it’s a great time to focus on yourself in mind, body and spirit.
Of course, the experience of working remotely is different for each one of us. Take your time to explore routines and habits that suit you best. Recording a journal is a great way to keep track of how you are adjusting to a life of remote work. Above all, prioritizing your well-being will give you the best productivity booster that you are looking for. And if working from home is an option you’re only just exploring, have a look at our list of jobs that will give you the freedom to elevate your work and life balance.
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