Written by Komalpreet Kaur
As the pandemic forces many of us to work at home, it can be hard to stay productive without our usual routines and the structure of an office environment. But we’re still accountable for the same work, and we have to meet the same expectations as we did back when we went to the office every day. Here are a few tips to stay focused and productive while working from home.
Create an Optimal Work Environment
Creating a home office that’s quiet and ergonomically correct is ideal, but it’s not always easy. Using your kitchen island, dining table, or your living room sofa as a workspace can work, but having a desk set up away from distractions and temptations works well for a lot of people, if they have such a space.
The type of work you do, and the way you work best is also an important factor. For example, if you’re someone who feels most creative in the morning, it might be best to work from a desk rather than your bed; working from bed can make it hard to wake up and focus, and carries a high risk of, well, falling back to sleep!
For simpler tasks, like checking emails, maybe the comfort of your sofa is a good fit. Look at it as your chance to create your ideal work ambience—to have a space you enjoy but don’t have at the office. You can set up a desk near the window if you prefer to work under natural light. Create an environment that inspires you and keeps you calm at the same time.
When working from home, choose a ‘clutter-free’ zone. It will help you stay focused on your work. If you’re working in an area with a lot of stuff scattered around you might be distracted by thoughts of cleaning it up. It’s best to separate yourself from reminders of household chores.
Building a Routine
Build a routine even though you’re working from home. Just because you don’t have to go anywhere doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to stay in your pajamas. Get up, shower, get dressed and get your coffee just like you would if you were going to the office.
Keep a morning ritual of getting ready. Working from home obviously saves you travel time. You can spend that time working out, or maybe cooking a healthy breakfast. Do whatever you need to do to get into the right mindset. You can also make a to-do list for the workday—this will keep you on track and can improve your productivity.
Take a Break
You don’t have to be working every minute of your day to be effective. Taking short breaks can actually make you more productive overall. Try taking 5-10 minute breaks throughout your day. If you live with a partner or kids, spend some quality time with them. You can also catch up with your friends through texts or emails, or even video calls. Have lunch with your colleagues on video calls—it can make it feel more like a normal in-office workday.
Set Boundaries for Other People in your House
It can be hard to stay focused on work when you live with housemates, friends, or family, so it’s important to set boundaries with them. Let them know about your work hours and ask them not to disturb you when you’re working unless it’s an emergency.
Working with Children in the House
Build a schedule
- Be clear with your kids when you’ll need to be working, and set boundaries for them.
- Have a daily task list for them to follow.
- Have a routine that includes them—spend time with them on your mini-breaks, or during lunch or breakfast.
- Reward them with treats for good behaviour.
- Don’t forget to have some non-work time for yourself, too.
Don’t Be a Workaholic
Just because you’re working from home and you can work around the clock doesn’t mean you should. Log off at the same time as you would in the office. Create a work-life balance—make time for yourself and your family. If you live alone, setting aside time to read or doing other things you enjoy can be a great way to relax.
With everything going on in the world right now, anxiety and stress can be high for some people. Remind yourself that it’s normal to have these feelings and that you’re not alone. Here are a few more tips:
- Limit your use of social media: Checking social media or news too often can enhance your anxiety, and it can even be depressing. Check news only a couple of times a day.
- Master your thoughts: Control any anxious or negative feelings you may have, and try to focus on positive thoughts. Self-affirmation can be helpful.
- Breathe: Meditation can help you stay calm and relaxed.
- Get active: Try some home workouts or yoga, if not being able to go to the gym is contributing to your anxiety.
- Cooking with the family: Make time to cook healthy meals with your family—this is a great way to stay accountable with your health while spending some quality time with your loved ones.
Don’t forget to share in our comment section how you stay productive while working from home!