Working from home is great... right up until your toddler mashes Wotsits into your laptop keyboard or your nextdoor neighbour starts strimming the hedges. There are so many advantages to working from home but remaining productive can be a challenge.
How can you have your cake and eat it, too? Here are our secrets to remain productive whilst working from home.
1. Stick to the schedule
The advice might seem obvious but this aspect of home-working is the most difficult to maintain. Having clear parameters for when to work and when to call it a day is so important. If you plan to clock off by 5pm, make sure you do so.
That applies equally to the mornings, too. Know when you need to be at your workspace and put safeguards in place to make sure you’re out of bed, dressed (crucial for productivity) and alert enough to be working. An established morning routine will do you loads of favours.
If you struggle to schedule yourself, RescueTime
is a great app that increases your timekeeping accountability. If on rare occasions you have to put a few extra hours in, then on the following day, allow for a lie-in or finish earlier than usual.
2. Dedicate a workspace
Not everyone has a separate office in their home but, nevertheless, it’s important to have one space that your brain recognises as ‘work’. This doesn’t have to be an overdone exercise; you might find that the kitchen table is perfectly adequate, but as a minimum you need to ensure that your work surface is the right height and your posture is correct.
Healthy by Design have two great blogs giving you the low-down here:
Desk and work surface tips
Posture and your eyes
Make sure you use a spot in the house where you’re not likely to be frequently disturbed and somewhere where the lighting won’t strain your eyes.
3. Advocate for yourself
If your employer supports your work-from-home setup, request the equipment you need as soon as you start working from home, or within a day or two when you realize you need something new.
By setting precedents that you will ask for what you need to get your job done comfortably will make it much easier to do down the line, whether it be a monitor, printer, software etc. You can’t do your best work on equipment that isn’t fit for purpose because it takes eons to load or doesn’t function as it should.
4. Establish ground rules
Where you live is primarily your home, but particularly if you share it with others, you need boundaries to ensure you can be productive.
If you’re home working, that means you’re at home to work. You shouldn’t be responsible for shouldering additional housekeeping tasks, or if it does make sense for you to do a little more, ensure you’re knowing burdening yourself by default - starting to feel as though you’re being taken advantage of will suppress your motivation to get stuff done.
If you have children who come home from school while you're still working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time.
5. Take a lunch break...
You cannot hope to increase your productivity if you aren’t adequately nourished. It’s important to take time to focus on your food and ensure you’re getting enough energy from lunch. Your brain needs a break, so have one whilst enjoying something tasty!
6. ... that’s maybe outside the house
Heading out for lunch and changing your scenery can really refresh your creativity. Better still, occasionally meeting colleagues for a 'socially distanced' lunch is a great way to maintain positive morale and ensure you’re not too isolated professionally.
7. Identify career development opportunities
If you’re not in the office with fellow employees it’s easy to miss potential training that’s available to you. What you may initially perceive as a dodged bullet, you might be missing out on an opportunity to improve your future prospects.
If there is a course you need for career development, ask if you can take it and how it might be implemented and whether you can do distance-learning or arrange an office visit. More knowledge and experience can lead to much greater work output.
All that said, despite your best efforts, on some days everything will spiral anyway, and that’s alright. Have a crisp glass of white wine or a well-deserved beer and start again tomorrow!
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