Working from home isn’t easy, with a large majority of office workers having done it on and off since March 2020.
It’s something that we have grown used to and just because we are now used to this way of working, it doesn’t mean we have to like it. As the pandemic persists it can be difficult to stay motivated.
So, we’ve decided to compile together our top tips for staying productive whilst working from home. Now I’m sure you’ve probably tried most of these over the year or so, but sometimes it’s good to have a refresher. Perhaps you’ve tried and failed with some of these methods, and that might be a sign to try something new, or simply just try again.
1. Get up early
This may seem like a strange idea, especially when you have the privilege of waking up, rolling out of bed and straight onto your computer, but stay with us.
Your morning commute, no matter how long (or short) it is, is guaranteed to wake you up. So, when you arrive at work, grab a brew, and sit down at your desk, you’re ready to face the day. If you aren’t giving yourself the time to do this at home, it could eat into working time, resulting in you feeling as though you’ve wasted your morning being unproductive.
A lie in is great, and one of the benefits of working from home, but this should be balanced with a morning routine that wakes you up.
2. Make a to-do list
To-do lists can be really useful tools. Having all of your tasks and appointments for the day laid out in front of you, can help you to visualise how you day will pan out. You can even go as far as allocating specific time slots to complete work in, especially if you work well to deadlines.
There are two ways to approach creating a daily to-do list, the first being to spend five to ten minutes in a morning planning your tasks for the day ahead. The second is to spend some time at the end of your working day preparing for the following day. It doesn’t matter which way you do it, why not trial each one and see what works best for you?
3. Make a dedicated workspace
Admittedly, this could be difficult for a number of people. Some people have the space to set up a whole room as their office, whether this be a spare room or garage. However, others may have no choice but to set up in their living room or bedroom.
For those with space to set up an office space in a different room, make sure that at finishing time you shut the door on said room. It’s important to find a balance between work and home life, being able to shut the door on your office means that you can physically and mentally shut off from work for the day.
For those of you who are tight for space, creating a workspace that can be tidied away is really important. Consider investing in a fold up desk/table or even a laptop tray. Try adding in small items that make it feel more office like, such as post it note dispensers or pots of pens. When the day is over, tidy all these items away and don’t touch them again to the next day. Perhaps putting your laptop into a cupboard out of sight will help you to physically shut a door (albeit a small one) on your working day.
Lighting can play an important role in the feel of a room. In the day use bright lights, much like you would find in the office, in the evening switch to lamps and fairy lights to give yourself a much more relaxed environment.
4. Set boundaries with anyone you live with
If you live with someone, whether that be friends, partner or family. It’s important to set boundaries so that they don’t prove to be a distraction. It’s unlikely that your friend would ever stop by the office for a chat, so why should that be the case when you are at home?
These boundaries don’t have to be strict, it’s just whatever suits your needs. Perhaps you could have a brew break or lunch at the same as those you with live as a way to replicate an office environment.
For any of you who are working from home whilst home schooling, it isn’t always possible to set the boundaries you would like to. If this is the case, try not to worry too much, you have suddenly taken on another full-time job and you are doing a fantastic job of managing both roles!
5. Stay Connected
We’re sure that at this point you are already aware of the importance of staying connected with those around you, inside and outside of work. After 11 months of virtual meetings, quizzes, parties, etc many people have started to feel that it has become tedious.
However you feel about it, it’s important to stay in touch with your colleagues on a personal level as well as professional one. You’ll be using video calling and instant messaging to keep in touch over work projects, so it’s easy to add a personal element to that. Let your team know what you’re doing with your evenings and weekends, whether that be binge watching a new tv show, reading an interesting book or going for a bike ride. Chances are, they’re desperate to tell you about the delicious steak that they cooked last night!
You don’t need telling about the benefits that exercise can have on your physical and mental health, you’re already aware of that. If you are the sort of person who enjoys exercising and use it as a way of escaping for a short while, whether this be a walk, run or home workout, then try incorporating this into your day. You could get up early and go for a run, or use your lunch hour to take a walk, perhaps you log off and immediately launch into a workout to finish your working day and start your evening.
If you are the sort of person who feels daunted by exercise, it’s important to remember that there is no pressure. It’s not about being the strongest, fastest or fittest, it’s about doing something that makes you feel good. Perhaps try incorporating a walk into your working day, that way you’re getting out in the fresh air, away from your desk.
7. Create a routine and stick to it
This doesn’t mean doing the same tasks at the same time every day, but rather making sure that you have a daily routine. For example, if you have specific working hours, then try your very best to work within these hours, like you would in the office. Of course, overtime is sometimes required, but on the days it isn’t make sure you shut down at an appropriate time.
Taking frequent breaks, and your lunch at the same time every day can help to build a routine.
8. Limit social media usage
We’re all guilty of going on social media to procrastinate, and it’s even easier to do now you’re at home with no one in the office to pull you up on it. Try setting screen time limits on certain apps that you find distracting.
If you work with social media as part of your role, make sure you only access them via your desktop and close the tab down once you have completed your task.
9. Use background noise to drown out other distractions
Pop in a pair of headphones and put on some music or a podcast or turn daytime tv on a low volume in the background. There are plenty of noise distractions around us, whether that be the refuse collectors or your noisy upstairs neighbour. Having some background noise at a low level, should be enough to drown out these interruptions, helping you to focus on your work.
10. Manage your expectations
This last one is really important. You don’t need reminding that we are living in strange times and working from home can be tricky. If you find that you are really struggling with managing your workload, chat to your colleagues or boss about how you can tackle this, it’s better to find positive solutions together rather than facing it alone.
Remember to try to not to put too much pressure on yourself as there will be days where you are less productive, focused or even creative. This shouldn’t be anything to worry about, you are still doing a great job!