As many of my Clients are now working from home due to COVID-19, some are finding it a challenge to be home all day. Productivity differs between individuals. With my business, I have had a couple of years of experience using my home as both my work and personal environments.
At first, it was a challenge adjusting to the new normal of working at home because I thought I can get up later since I don’t have to commute, I can work out of my pyjamas, I can go to the gym for that fitness class I could never make it to and even get some chores done so I do not have to do them all on the weekend! Working from home is the best! And then after a few days, I came to realize I was super distracted at home by the things that all of a sudden needed to get done, I was eating more than usual, and working longer but not getting as much done.
So here are some of my key tips for being productive working from home:
Keep Your Routine the Same
Wake up at the same time and do your morning routine the way you would normally do. That means, shower and get out of your pyjamas. If you find yourself with more time, due to the lack of commuting, slow down your morning routine, as we find we can be rushing in the morning. Or add in something new to your routine – listen to a podcast, read a book, meditate, have an actual breakfast, or get your exercise in. Use that time to add something that will support you being ready for the workday. I would highly recommend staying off your email unless an emergency and spending the time you need in the morning for yourself and your family. Only at the time you normally start work, sit down to get started. Have your meals and snacks at the same time and finish when you normally do when at the office.
Create a Dedicated Workspace
One thing I tended to do when I first started working from home, was turn my entire home into a workspace. My dining table, my counter, my couch, my bed, all became places to work on my laptop. I would encourage you to keep your spaces for what they are meant for. Keep for your bedroom for sleeping, your couch for taking a break and watching tv.
When you dedicate a room, a table, even a chair to be your workspace, it helps prompt your mind that it is time to work. When you take a break, to snack or eat, or watch TV, move to another space. Trust me, it is a small thing, but it makes a difference. I got myself a desk and made my space more ergonomic by adding a desk light, a large LCD screen to project my laptop, back support, foot stand, and a plant, so it made me want to sit in this space over other places in my home.
Take Scheduled Breaks
When you work at home, every 10 mins can turn into a break – putting the laundry in, grab another snack, washing a dish, grabbing a third coffee, removing the dust you see a few feet away from you. There are a lot of distractions when working out of your home. When I sit down to work, I usually started with my list – 3 major things I must do today and then the long list of things that would be nice to do. I then use my timer and set a 35 – 45min and work away, and then I set a 15 min timer, to stand up walk around, check my phone, do all the little things that I was urged to do before getting back to it for another 45 mins. I have found this helps keep me productive and focused to get through my list of the day. This also reduces my need to task switch from one to another and ensure I am monotasking. You can also take the time at the start of your workday when you will take your breaks based on your call schedule. When you schedule breaks, you will find you are more productive with your time.
Aside from those 3 key tips, there are several little things that you can do to help promote working from home. I like to leave a window open for fresh air comes in, listening to classical music playing in the background, using my diffuser on with a spearmint or eucalyptus scent to promote focus.
Lastly, I did find the hardest adjustment was missing the social aspect of going into work. Early on I recognized to ensure I am incorporating times through my week for social interactions. Video calls with clients, after work drinks or dinners with friends, walk outside with a friend or family member. Make an added effort to ensure you are not isolating yourself given the situation outside. I remember to help me transition initially, I used to get up and leave my place to go to a coffee shop every morning, so I felt like I had somewhere to go and be around people. As our current situation makes that option not viable, I encourage you to take your breaks with the people in your household, to schedule in a video call with friends when you can or even attend a virtual workout class to see an instructor guiding you.
Working from home is not an easy adjustment but implementing some of these tips can really help to create a more productive environment than being in the office. If you have any helpful tips, I’d be interested in hearing them!