It is highly important that each of us do our part to slow and prevent the spread of the coronavirus – and, for those of us who can, this means working from home.
Initially, working from home doesn’t sound too bad to most of us. It means waking up a little later than usual. Not dealing with your daily commute and traffic. Spending quality time with your pets. Having easy access to fresh food in your fridge. Not having to dress up or put your makeup on.
However, experienced work-from-homers will be the first to tell you how easy working from home can turn into an “Expectation vs. Reality” situation.
Skipping your commute means missing your favorite playlist. It’s actually pretty annoying to spend the entire day trying to fend off your pet who wants to walk all over your keyboard. Having easy access to your fridge turns into too much snacking. Staying in your pajamas all day, while not necessarily bad, may still affect your work mindset.
Since many of us may end up working from home for several more weeks, here are some tips to help you stay motivated while you do it.
- Don’t skip your normal morning routine.
When you know that you are going to be stuck at home all day, it can be tempting to just skip your usual morning routine. Why keep your 7 AM alarm when you don’t have to eat breakfast or shower by a specific time, right?
Your morning routine may seem boring and tedious, but it does provide structure to your day – helping you stay productive and organized. After all, we are creatures of habit. Routines can also help keep thoughts like, ‘When should I eat?’ or ‘When should I shower?’, from taking up the valuable brainpower that you need to get your actual work done.
This means that even though you technically don’t need to, it is best to keep your alarm set and proceed with your morning routine as usual: eat breakfast, shower, get dress, read the news, exercise – then, just like every other morning, get started on your work.
- Set up a proper work space.
Sitting up in bed or leaning back on the couch with your laptop in your lap sounds really nice; however, it is not the most productive work environment. When your home becomes the place where you spend your working hours and your free time, you may want to consider separating the two.
If you have the space, designate an area of your home as your ‘work space’ – preferably one that is away from where you sleep and relax. This could be a spare or empty bedroom that you can convert into your home office. If you don’t have extra space, you can set up a desk for your laptop and office supplies.
What’s important is that you choose a spot that helps you focus and minimizes distractions. Also, make sure that your workspace has all of the things that you need to be productive, like a desk, your laptop/computer, and other necessary office supplies.
- Establish your work hours.
If possible, maintain your usual work schedule at the office while working from home. For instance, if you work from 8 AM to 5 PM at the office, that should be your work hours at home as well. Why is this important?
There are a lot of distractions at home (i.e. family members, pets, TV, etc.) that can easily disrupt your concentration and focus. When you set your ‘work hours’, you need to commit to it and avoid any and all distractions – this means no watching TV, no idle chatting with family and friends, no browsing social media, etc. During your ‘work hours’, you need to actually get your job done – just as you would if you were in the office. Setting your ‘work hours’ – including when you start and stop work, as well as breaks and lunch – can help you stay focused throughout the day.
On the other hand, some people may find it difficult to ‘unplug’ from their work when their laptop is only a few feet away. However, remember that working from home doesn’t mean that you need to be working 24/7. Establish your working hours and make sure that you also set time to take care of yourself.
- Don’t work in your pajamas.
Perhaps one of the best things about working from home is that you don’t need to dress up – if you like, you can easily work in your pajamas. However, ‘dress for success’ is not just a catchphrase; it does actually matter when you work from home.
When you dress up (even just casually, as long as you are no longer in your PJs), it can psychologically get you in the right mindset for work. Plus, dressing up means that you will be ready to handle any kind of check-in or video chat with your teammates or boss.
- Set clear boundaries with your family and friends.
This can be particularly difficult if you have young children at home, or have pets, all of whom want your attention. If you are at home all day, every day, then family and friends might interrupt you without knowing any better.
When you work from home, it is important that you set some clear boundaries with your family and friends while you work. Establish and stick to specific work hours and inform your family and friends of your schedule. Let them know that even if you are working from home, they should still respect your work hours and shouldn’t distract you unnecessarily.
- Use your lunch hour to make healthy meals.
Since you will have access to a full kitchen and fresh food, consider using your lunch hour to whip up a quick meal – rather than just reheating leftovers in the microwave. A fresh, tasty meal at lunch can be a nice treat to yourself. Concerned about the time? There are plenty of dishes that you can make in under 30 minutes!
The Bottom Line
If you are told to work from home, don’t take advantage of the situation and use it as a form of ‘vacation’ – make sure that you still do your job properly and get your work done.
Hopefully, the tips above will help you stay focused and productive even as you work from home.
Let us all do our part to slow and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Stay safe everyone!