At these uncertain times, a lot of people have been urged to work from home if possible. For a lot of people who are used to working within an office environment, this will be a unique experience. While working from home has its advantages, which can include flexible working as well as avoiding the usual daily commute, it also has its disadvantages. So what I thought I would do is to share 5 top tips that I have discovered over the years of working from home to help you get through the working day (at home) and stay as productive as you would have been if you were based in an office.
Tip 1: Even though you are at home treat it like you are actually at work.
If you mentioned to people before the COVID-19 pandemic started about working from home they would conjure thoughts of working in their pyjamas with a laptop in bed or on the sofa with Netflix on in the background. Don’t get me wrong this is super appealing but from experience, it can be detrimental to the quality and quantity of your output as you will find yourself not treating work as serious as you would if you were sat in an office working away. The reason why we say is simply down to the fact that you don’t feel that you are work so you don’t act in the same way as you would if you were actually at your place of business. So our first tip is to get up as you would for work. Get ready as you would for work and get to your desk ready for the day at the same time as you would if you were to arrive at work on time.
This sets you up in more of a professional manner as you are treating what you are doing at home as work and not like you would say a hobby or pastime. It also sets you up to act more professional and get the work done that you are required to do more effectively. Don’t get us wrong it isn’t easy, especially if you have kids that are at home for the day or your home is in a mess but if you sit at your computer ready for the day and dressed like you would if you were at work then it would lead to less distraction and more overall productivity.
Tip 2: Fail to plan, plan to fail – get organised.
I find that failing to plan or having no real weekly schedule or at least a daily list of things to get done can hamper productivity when working from home. Procrastination can easily meander its way into your working day and if you are not focussed on the task in hand then you can find yourself easily distracted.
So this tip is simple to carry out and easy to administer and that is to write down what you have going on for the week and break it down into manageable daily tasks. This will help you prioritise what task is more urgent than the others and helps to keep your mind on what you need to do for the day and for the rest of the week.
You can create a weekly schedule in software applications like Microsoft Excel, where each column can be a day of the working week with a list of tasks you can delete or cross through, or you can use online task management websites like Trello or Monday which can offer a whole lot more than simple to-do lists. But the main takeaway from this quick tip is to get yourself organised and ready for the day or week ahead.
Tip 3: Focus on what is in front of you and not what is around you.
I have always found that working from home can be full of distractions. There’s always washing that needs doing or a room to quickly tidy and if you think to yourself that you will just quickly whizz through some housework before jumping on the computer then before you know it two hours have passed and you haven’t even started your day job! Trust me I’ve been there and worn that freshly washed t-shirt.
So for tip number three would be to ignore what is around you and focus on your day job during the working day. All you have to ask yourself are questions like, ‘Would I be doing the clothes washing in the office when I am working with a team of people?’ or, ‘Would I be doing the dishes while on a conference call?’ and if the answer is no then you know that they need to be done when you have completed your days worth of work.
I found that following this tip you will get more work done and if you are lucky and clear of any work you have scheduled to get done for the day, you will still get more than enough time to complete the housework.
Tip 4: Get out and about once a day.
Working from home makes it very easy to be so involved in your work that you can lose track of time and before you know it it’s late and the day has simply flown by. While this is great for productivity in the early days it can lead to burning out, boredom and to a lesser extent resentment as all you feel that you are doing is working non-stop.
This is where we feel that tip four is well worth implementing, even during this Coronavirus pandemic, and that is to get yourself out for at least thirty minutes a day for some fresh air and a bit of exercise.
The above will depend on your schedule, workload and what you have going on outside your working environment but even if you spend fifteen minutes going out for a walk it can make a big difference to your overall mood and wellbeing.
Don’t get me wrong, I used to be that person who spent days staying in working away but over the last few years I have built this small tip into my workflow and I found that going out for a walk for about half an hour helped with my focus, stress and made me a whole lot more productive, so give it a whirl!
Tip 5: Socialise with family, friends or other people in your industry.
Working from home can be brilliant and it does have a lot of positives going for it but one of the biggest negatives is the social isolation that you can experience on a day to day basis, especially when social occasions come round like Christmas and everyone and their dog seems to be going to a Christmas party!
Now at a time like this where the UK is locked down, social isolation is very much the name of the game to try and stem the spread of Coronavirus but you have to remember that most of us are social creatures at heart and being isolated from your friends and loved ones can be a bit disheartening.
With the above in mind it is more important than ever to keep in contact with your friends and family via social media and smartphone apps like Houseparty, Facetime and Google Hangouts at a time like this as the boost in your general wellbeing when laughing at the situation we are all in can help make the day go better and lift your overall mood.
Another thing to pursue is joining a few online forums based on the industry you work in and when the lockdown has been lifted you may find that they have meetups where people like yourself meet at a chosen venue to hold seminars and networking opportunities and before you know it you are socialising with the best of them!
Everyone’s situation will be different and I do fully appreciate that some of the tips above may not apply to your home set-up or workflow but I do hope they help in some way in increasing your overall productivity and general well being, especially in this unusual situation we all find ourselves in. Stay positive and stay safe!