Tips For Working From Home
The coronavirus pandemic has brought many changes, both in our personal and professional lives. Not the least of which is that many people have suddenly found themselves in the new position of working from home. While working from home may have seemed like a dream opportunity in the past, many are finding it more challenging to juggle than they imagined.
Here are a few tips to help with both staying productive as well as maintaining your mental well-being:
I know. Those pajamas are really comfortable, and you are at home so who would know? If you talk to people who have worked from home for extended periods of time, they will tell you that on days they gave in to the temptation of staying in their pajamas they often found that they got off to a slower start and were less productive throughout the day.
Don’t worry. You do not need to dress as formally as you would on a normal work day, but the seemingly simple act of changing your clothes serves as a signal that it is time to wake up and start the day. It helps to mentally set a divide between your work day at home and your time off at home.
Performing other tasks that relate to your appearance is also a good idea. Jump in the shower. Brush your teeth. Do your hair. Put on makeup. Do the things you would normally do before going into work. It’s not necessary to put as much effort into the tasks as you might have in the past before going to work, but taking care of your appearance can help to make you feel like you are taking care of yourself.
Of course, all of this goes without saying if you are one of the people who have found themselves suddenly on a lot of Zoom calls on your webcam.
Define your work hours
It’s important to designate hours for when you are “at work” and when you are off the clock. You need to have a time when work is done and you are shutting it down for the day. If you let yourself continue to think about and concentrate on work tasks, you will start to feel like you are working nonstop and putting in more hours than you ever did before.
If you have roommates or a family at home, this is even more important. They need to understand when you are “at work” and when you are done. This will cut down on distractions.
If you have children, as much as you can, try to make sure they understand the difference between something that needs mommy’s or daddy’s attention right now and something that can wait until the end of your work day.
Once your work day is over, disconnect from work and give your family the full attention it deserves and needs.
Create a designated workspace
Similar to having work hours as mentioned above, it is also important to have a work area at home. If you normally travel to work each day, the division between your work and home lives is physical. That separation can and often will become blurred when you are working from home.
You want to try to recreate that separation of work and home life as much as possible by having a designated workspace. If you have a room all to yourself that you can use, that is ideal, but that is not going to be an option for everyone.
You can turn an area that is part of another room into your workspace. Working from home means that you lose out on the time you spend outside on your commute. Picking an area with lots of natural lighting can help make up for this.
Try to avoid social hubs in your home such as a kitchen table or island where people tend to gather. Sitting down at your workspace should make you feel like you are starting the work day. Sitting at the kitchen table or on the couch in front of a TV will make it harder to get going.
Avoid home chores that can suck you in for extended periods of time
Distractions are the number one problem that people face working from home. Everything you would consider doing when you are normally at home is right there at your fingertips.
Understand that it is going to be virtually impossible to completely eliminate distractions. In your normal work days, you probably take a few 5 to 10-minute breaks and that is fine to do at home too. If you want to get up and empty the dishwasher, do it.
You need to avoid things that potentially could drag you into something much bigger.
You know that bathroom faucet that has had a slow leak for the past 3 months? Your at home work time is not the time to start investigating what is going on there.
You may find that suddenly working from home is cutting off a lot of the social interactions you are used to having throughout the day. Sometimes these interactions may feel mundane, but they do help us to feel less lonely and help to break up the work day.
Just because you are now working from home does not mean you have to cut off your work social life. Whether your company is using Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, or some other way to communicate, you can also use these tools to interact with your co-workers the way you normally would.
Is there a favorite show you and a co-worker routinely talk about the morning after a new episode? Reach out to them and do it. If on Monday you would usually talk about your weekend with a teammate, do not stop just because you are not in the office.
Of course, follow whatever guidelines your company has laid out for using work related devices and software.
Maybe even suggest to your manager that your team does a group call each morning to kick off the day, or if you are the manager organize it yourself. Seeing everyone’s face regularly and having a few minutes to chit-chat can really help us to not feel quite as lonely working from home.
Working from home is going to be the new normal for many of us for the foreseeable future. These tips can help you to adjust to this new way of life while staying positive and productive.