In a week, work-life, school-life and home time has changed in America and around the world. How we work has gone from primarily working in offices to working remotely or working from home. If you are new to working remotely, here’s how you can work from home productively and keep your sanity.
For most of my career, I have worked from home. I understand the positives and challenges of working remotely. When I first started working remotely (almost 20 years ago), I remember some of the same feelings you probably have now like missing friends and coworkers in the office, going out to lunch and just how isolated it felt. But now, I actually prefer working from home, driving during rush hour stresses me and I prefer the schedule of working from home.
Over the years, I have developed some habits and routines that make working from home easier. Here are my best work from home productivity tips that will help you be successful in working remotely, too.
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10 Tips to Make Working Remotely Productive & Successful
1. Start your day getting dressed
So often I see articles stating the best part of working from home is working in your PJ’s. In all the years I have worked from home, I never remember working in my PJ’s. I have always gotten up and gotten dressed to start my day.
Taking a shower and getting dressed signals to your mind it’s a new day and you ready to be productive. If you stay in your PJ’s all day, you don’t have the same attitude and mindset.
I even require my kids (who are homeschooled) to get dressed every day before they start school or playing. I want them to have the same good habits.
2. Create a work from home routine
Routines keep us focused and on schedule. Keep work at a set time just like when you would go to the office, you should also have a set time to start your workday at home. Try to keep the same schedule as when you were going to the office.
If you like to start your day with coffee or tea, then make a cup of coffee or tea at home, too.
Having a work at home routine will keep you working consistently and keep you accountable to get your work done.
3. Have set work hours
Working from home doesn’t mean working 24/7. So you don’t feel like every minute of your day is only work, define and set your work hours.
If your company has hours you are required to work, these hours would be your work time. If you work for yourself or you don’t have set work hours, create a work schedule and keep those hours just like if you were going to an office. You don’t sleep at your office so don’t check your email and keep working during non-work time like evenings and weekends.
Most importantly decide on a clear end to your day. Don’t keep checking emails after your work time is over.
4. Create a Work Space
If possible, when working from home give yourself a designated workspace. When I first started working from home, I worked at the dining room table. Then I moved to a desk in the corner of a room and eventually, I found a dedicated office room in our home.
Even if you don’t have a room that can be your office look around your home and find a corner or private space you can use as your workspace. Keep your computer and all your work papers and equipment in this space.
If you just starting out working from home, don’t leave your work and papers all over your home. It’s so easy to lose important papers and documents when you have things scattered everywhere.
5. Get Comfortable
Working from home is more relaxed than working from an office, so you want to be comfortable. Choose to wear comfortable clothes (no one is expecting you to wear dress slacks and collared shirts at home). But don’t forget #1, don’t work in your PJ’s that’s too casual.
Also, work on finding a comfortable chair and items you need to keep you comfortable and sitting with good posture. I like having extra back support to keep me comfortable and my favorite stay-cool stainless steel cup and of course my earbuds so I can listen to the radio or a podcast.
6. Give Yourself a Break
Find your optimal focus time, work diligently then give yourself a break.
Many people like to work on focused tasks for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. You might be able to work on focused tasks longer before taking a break.
When you are home, don’t eat lunch at your desk. Take a break and get away from your desk for 30-45 minutes in the middle of the day.
7. Combat Cabin Fever
The hardest part of staying home every day is staying home all day every day. For so many years we have been conditioned to go to school, go to work, go shopping, get out of your home. Now, we are being told to stay home.
It’s easy to develop cabin fever. What is cabin fever? That feeling you have that you just need to get out of your house. While we are currently being asked to stay home and avoid crowds, you can still get outside. Take a quick walk around your neighborhood or even if it’s a nice day, take your laptop and sit outside in your backyard to get some sunshine.
You can also take some time each day to exercise and move especially since we will be staying home and indoors more for the next few weeks.
Try in-home exercise routines or walking workouts like Leslie Sansone walks which are easy to do indoors.
8. Stay in Touch with Colleagues
We live in a time that technology allows us to “see” our colleagues and co-workers even if we aren’t in the office. Participate in Zoom meetings or video chats if you would like to have face-to-face meetings. Connect with Slack for quick chats.
If you work with a team, set-up weekly team meetings via teleconference or video so everyone can touch base.
Don’t underestimate the personal aspect of relationships. On teleconferences, it’s easy to be more business. Take a little time and talk about what is happening in each other’s personal lives, too.
9. Avoid Distractions
When you work remotely, you have many more distractions than you have in an office. Learn how to avoid the distractions or create set times to work on “home” projects.
For example, I don’t like having a sink full of dirty dishes. Every morning before I start work, I wash the dishes or load them into the dishwasher. This way a sink of dirty dishes is not distracting me. If there is laundry to do, have a time when you gather it up, put it in the washer and then get work.
Home chores like sweeping, mopping, vacuuming usually have to be done in non-work hours just like when you would go to the office or else you will end up doing your work all night because you were not focused during the day.
You also have TV’s and more electronics in your home to distract you. Right now, the news is a distraction. When you choose your workspace, find a quiet place to work without a TV and other distractions.
10. Roll with Whatever Happens
Working from home for parents is new and uncharted territory. Have a good attitude and roll with whatever happens.
Your internet connection might not work, you might not be able to access vital files you need, important files might have been left at the office. When these things happen it’s frustrating, but take a deep breath, stay calm and work the problem. You can figure out how to solve the problem.
Most likely your kids and other family members will be home with you. I saw a Facebook post yesterday that said to refer to your kids as your “co-workers” and share what your new “coworkers” did today. The list of things that happened was hilarious. Remember, just roll with it.
If you are new to working remotely, it does have many adjustments and changes. It’s easy to get “cabin fever”, but with time you can develop a successful routine just like when you were working in an office.
To your working from home success…
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