The last couple of weeks have been strange for everyone but possibly even more so for those who are still working but now from the comfort of their own home. The thought of working from home might initially conjure visions of typing away from the couch in your sweats….but now that we’re a few weeks into this quarantine situation, how’s that going?
Whether you’re using your time at home to apply for jobs, work on side projects, or continue business as usual (but from another location) it can be hard to stay productive if you’re used to being in an office all day. If you’re starting to lose focus and are struggling to be productive as the quarantine time extends, here are some tips to help you stay productive while working from home.
Related: 5 Tips for Applying for a Remote Job
Sorry, no working from your PJs. If you really want to stay productive while working at home, act like you’re not working at home. When was the last time you stayed in your pajamas all day? Probably the weekend or a holiday, right? Being at home all day can already start to feel a little like the weekend which makes it hard to get motivated. To shake that feeling, shed the sweats. You don’t get to put on a three-piece suit and tie, but slipping into some jeans can help separate your weekend from the weekday even if you’re not leaving the house.
Keep a Routine/Schedule
Along those same lines, it’s important to keep a regular workday schedule even when you’re not actually going to work. In fact, since you’re not commuting, you can get started even earlier in the morning–for many, their most productive time of day!
So, when that alarm goes off and you remember you don’t actually have to go anywhere…get up anyway. Put the coffee on like normal, have breakfast at the same time, and start work at the same time (or earlier!).
Obviously, if you’re home with your kids this might be easier said than done. If that’s the case, find a schedule that works for your new normal and stick to it. Do your best to stick to the same routine and schedule every day (at least every weekday), that way your brain learns when it’s time to work and when it’s time to rest.
Find the Right Space
We hate to break it to you, but working from the couch is not always the most productive. If you can do it, that’s awesome but your posture can play a large part in how productive you are. Ideally, you should find a dedicated desk or table space where you can sit up straight, not crank your neck to look at your screen, and easily reach your phone or anything you need to be productive. Laying back on the couch tells your body it’s time to relax. Sitting up straight at a desk or table tells your brain it’s time to work.
You should also have a lot of light and the ability to limit any distractions by closing a door (if possible) or wearing headphones.
Turn off Notifications
This is an “any time” productivity tip but it’s even more important when working from home where distractions are a-plenty. When you’re trying to concentrate, turn off the notifications on your phone and your computer. You don’t need Facebook interrupting your flow or CNN dinging in your ear. Every time you’re pulled away from a task, you have to refocus to get back to it, and that takes time. So, limit how often you’re pulled away by turning off as many notifications as possible.
Get Some Help
If you’re new to working from home, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you find and keep your focus.
The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to complete bursts of focused work and get more done overall. Using this technique, you do 25 minutes of focused work (no checking your phone or Facebook or your email) and then you get a five-minute break. You do a few rounds of this and then take a longer break. The longer you do this, the more you’ll get done in those 25 minutes.
If you need help with discipline, try downloading some social media blocking apps that don’t let you access your accounts during certain times. Of, if you need a lot of help, remove any social media apps from your phone.
You can also use task management software like Asana, Trello, Teamwork or more. Many of these might be provided by your employer but if not, they all have free versions you can use to keep track of your tasks and stay productive.
Even though you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you have to be working the whole time you’re at home. Use the Pomodoro Technique and get up and stretch during your five-minute breaks. At lunch, step outside. Take a walk to get some fresh air. You’ll stay productive longer if you get up and move and let your brain take a break every now and then.
This is also a stressful time for a lot of people. Honor that and step away when you have to in order to stay healthy mentally and physically.
Don’t let this quarantine throw off your momentum. Use these tips to keep moving forward even though you’re not actually going anywhere.
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