The reality is many of us are now working from home. And given the situation, we could be for some time. Distractions as well as less than ideal rooms and setups are among some of the challenges faced. And those merely represent the smaller things; there are also, of course, technological glitches, communication issues, being isolated, and severed from the company culture. This is why figuring out how to more effectively work at home is so key. We thought we'd offer a few works from home hacks as the country is now experiencing a remote work revolution.
1. Have a firmly designated workspace
It's tempting to work from the sofa one day. Perhaps next you are going to opt to work in your bedroom because it's a bit quieter. The problem with shifting your workspace on a whim is that you lose that sense of order, that regimented feeling that is more often than not connected with our work environment. Plus, having a firmly dedicated workspace will also enable you to separate the personal and the professional a bit more easily.
Granted, some people don't necessarily have the space to assign one room as a workspace; yet, even if you live in a smaller apartment, finding some corner or even one end of the kitchen island where that becomes your go-to area to work will help in terms of switching from a work-oriented mindset to home mentality.
A good tip for those working from home is to in fact try and avoid working from the bed or couch. These spaces should be about relaxing—if they're intertwined with your work, you will have a difficult time, again, separating that which should be about your home life from your professional one.
2. Optimize that workspace
Once you've defined that area of your home that will be dedicated to working, you want to be sure and organize it. The organization, having a space that is clutter-free and that is ultimately optimized for the tasks you need to get done, will make life a lot easier. A recent survey showed that near eighty percent of people said that disorganization in terms of their desk area makes them feel less motivated to perform.
After tidying up space and getting rid of anything not necessary for doing your job, you might add things such as a dry erase board or even some form of music player so that you can play those songs that inspire you to get things done. Of course, you want to ensure that your desk is optimal for the tasks you have to perform and that you have a comfortable chair that encourages good posture.
3. Stick to one schedule
It is often tempting when working from home to simply work whenever you want. The problem with that is it then becomes difficult to get back into things and reestablish that working mentality. By outlining a schedule and sticking to it daily, you are forcing yourself to be more productive overall and subsequently perform those job-related tasks promptly—versus procrastinating and then scrambling to get something done.
Think about when you are most alert when you feel more productive. For many this is in the morning; however, if you're not necessarily a morning person then you shouldn't force yourself to become one. If you tend to get more done at night and produce better results, then establish a schedule around evening hours. This is unchartered territory for many. You have to figure out what works best for you.
Another thing as far as establishing a set schedule…Act like you're going to work. That is to say, it does make a difference if you start the day by showering, getting out of those PJs and into clothes, and whatever else you might do before leaving for the office. This signals to your brain that work is beginning, and you need to be present as such.
4. Make sure you take some breaks
Just like you would during a traditional workday, be sure that you're giving yourself some time for breaks. And don't forget to give yourself a lunch as well. Working straight through eight hours for instance without letting up generally makes people feel sluggish and even frustrated at the end of the day nears. You want to stay refreshed throughout the day so that you don't come to resent this new remote work reality.
Beyond breaks, make sure you move. Sitting at your desk inert all day long does take a toll on your body. Go for a walk during one of your breaks, jump on the treadmill, even just stand and stretch periodically so that you are keeping that blood pumping. Having healthy snacks throughout the day is another great way to help you stay focused, energized, and alert. A recent study showed that those who take a break every 90 minutes have a higher productivity rate (right around 30% higher/). They are also able to problem solve more efficiently and think more creatively.
5. Set some boundaries
If you're surrounded by family members all day, working from home can be a bit trickier. This is why you need to establish those boundaries right off the bat. If you were at the office, they would not have access to you until you got home. And certainly, if something happens or there's an emergency then obviously they should let you know. Otherwise, though, make sure your family understands to treat your work time just as they would if you were at the office.
If you have a door to your workspace, close it, further reinforcing your need to focus and stay present at "work." With kids especially, things can get a bit frenetic at home. You are going to want to have a conversation with them, making it crystal clear that just because mom or dad is home doesn't necessarily mean they are to be disturbed. You may even want to hang up a do not disturb sign.
Boundaries work the other way as well. Just because your home is now your primary office, doesn't mean you should be subject to working all day. When the workday is done, it is fine to unplug and enjoy your personal life.