Does quarantine have you teleworking? Here’s how to stay productive and master your new normal workday at home.
The ultimate goal for many 9-to-5ers is to work from home. Although working from home can be incredibly rewarding, many people are quickly discovering that the allure of teleworking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Some people take to working from home quite naturally while others can find it tough to transition. If you find yourself falling into the latter category, don’t lose hope! Learning how to stay productive while working from home takes practice. Just like you had to adjust to your job when you first started, you’ll also need to adjust to this new way of working.
Here are six valuable tips to help you adapt and conquer your new at-home workday routine.
1. Design a daily schedule that’s similar to your standard day at the office.
When it comes to boosting productivity, nothing beats having a daily routine. In fact, daily routines not only help you get more done during your workday but they also increase creativity and improve your mental health overall.
The easiest way to design a daily schedule for teleworking is to replicate your normal work schedule. Wake up early, start work at the usual time, take your normal breaks during the day, and stop working at the end of business hours.
Be flexible with your routine and make changes to help accommodate responsibilities you wouldn’t normally have at work. For example, maybe you start work a little later than normal or take a long lunch in order to be there for your kids.
2. Set up a workspace in a quiet area of your home and only use this space for work.
Lounging on the couch with a laptop might be feasible for quickly replying to emails, but it isn’t quite conducive for productivity in the long run. Successful entrepreneurs and other individuals who work from home will quickly advise newcomers to set up a dedicated workspace as soon as possible.
This workspace can be anywhere in your home—a spare bedroom, the dining room table, or even a small desk in the corner of your living room. The important thing is that you design this space in a way that will allow you to focus physically and mentally, with minimal distractions.
And if possible, train your brain to view this space as a focus zone by using it only for work tasks.
3. Working in PJs can be a treat, but there’s serious productivity power in getting dressed.
Wearing your lazy pants is an awesome perk for those who work from home, especially if you normally have to dress up for the office. However, keep in mind that the clothes you choose to wear affect how you feel more than you might realize.
The reason for this goes back to the idea of people thriving on routine. When you get dressed in your normal work attire, you’re subconsciously preparing for a day of productivity. By getting out of your lounge clothes and into a casual, but comfortable outfit before your at-home workday begins, you’re achieving the same effect.
4. If you have kids, try to time their most distracting activities for when you need the most focus.
Juggling teleworking and your kids being home from school isn’t easy, but by planning ahead for timely distractions you can ensure you get the quiet time you need.
For school-age kids and teens, consider timing both of your schedules so they are studying while you are working. For younger kids, plan out some distracting activities to keep them busy when you need uninterrupted time to focus. Puzzles, building toys, and free art time are great at keeping kids busy. If all else fails, sometimes the best trick is to simply put on their favorite movie.
5. Help keep yourself on track by working with an accountability partner via video chat.
Something that even the most seasoned teleworker has to deal with is distractions. If you find yourself having a tough time staying on track with work, finding an accountability partner can really help improve your productivity.
You can use a platform like Focusmate or ask a coworker to telework with you through Skype. At the start of the session discuss your goals for the day with one another and then get started. Keep in mind that the purpose of this is to have accountability and productivity. If you find yourself chatting too much with your coworker, Focusmate may prove to be a much more effective option.
6. Use a planner to prioritize your day in a way that allows you to get the most done.
Staying on task and following some type of plan is even more important when you work from home. Use a daily planner or a combination of a calendar and a notebook to plan out each workday. Take note of what tasks need to be done and categorize them by which are urgent and non-urgent. You’ll also need to determine which order to take care of tasks.
Some individuals are most productive when they start by completing the easiest tasks first and warm up to the tougher ones. Others are most productive when they take on the hardest tasks first and get them out of the way.
Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Be patient with yourself and flexible with your expectations of how working from home will go.
One of the best things you can do for yourself right now is to be patient.
Working from home is a big challenge, even under the best of circumstances. Considering the added stress of current world events, stay-at-home orders, and kids being home from school, adjusting to teleworking can be tough.
Try to keep realistic expectations for how your productivity level may differ from your standard workday at your office. Be flexible and if something doesn’t seem to be working, switch things up until you find a routine that matches your unique situation.