As we’re all venturing into unchartered waters with the implications of COVID-19, there are many of you – like me – who will be working from home or remotely for a little while as a safety precaution to help stave off the spread of the virus. I’ve worked in 3 positions that have allowed me the flexibility to work from anywhere so I’m sharing 3 tips to successfully work from home that I’ve learned over the years.
With the current health crisis across the globe, many may be venturing into telecommuting or working from home for the first time. I, myself, see increased productivity when working from home but it didn’t begin that way. There are many distractions that can claim your focus when you’re not in your typical office environment.
Designate a specific area to complete your work.
To be honest, this was the key to increasing my productivity when working from home. I had a position several years ago that was totally remote and it was my first experience working in that capacity. I worked for weeks or maybe months from my sofa and it took its toll. My back was killing me. The computer was too close to my face and I never had any of the supplies I needed at the ready while I was on calls or in virtual meetings.
Like many, I didn’t have an office space so I made a makeshift office with a folding table from Walmart in one corner of my room and invested in an actual office chair. I ordered mine from Wayfair. This truly made a huge difference. No need to spend a lot of money to create a functional office space. I invested about $100 because I would be working long-term in this space.
With the implications and time table for alternative working situations during COVID-19 – you may just modify your dining table or kitchen bar to suit your office needs for the duration of your remote assignment.
I got up every day and went to my “office” and completed my daily tasks. Now, this is not to say that to work from home, you have to only work at home. I found it refreshing to work from a restaurant during the lunch hour or spend a few hours at Starbucks or a local coffee shop. Even the library is a great place to set up shop – as long as you pick a dedicated spot to engage in work activities for a consecutive period of time.
Choose a schedule and stick to it.
Some may have their daily schedule dictated by their respective organizations but others might have flexibility in their day. Try to schedule your day as consistently as possible. The more structure you have to your day – the easier it will be to complete your tasks without distraction.
If you start your workday at 9 am because you need to drop your children off at school then consistently start your day at 9 am. Depending on the nature of your position, this may or may not be possible. But having continuity in your daily schedule increases your efficiency and ensures high-quality work is delivered.
When I first started working from home, I would intentionally sleep a little later because I had that flexibility. Those few minutes turned into half an hour then an extra hour. Some days I’d be scrambling to get everything done, especially when last minute to-do’s or urgent requests came across my desk. Once I set my daily schedule, I felt more confident in myself and my work.
Here’s a break down of a simple schedule:
- 6:00 – Wake up
- 6:15 – 7:15 – Gym
- 7:15 – 7:45 – Shower, Meditation, Daily Gratitude
- 7:45 – Coffee & To-Do List
- 8:00 – Begin Work Day
- 10:30 – 10:45 – Intentional Break
- 12:00 – 1:00 – Lunch
- 3:00 – Intentional Break
- 4:30 – List action items for tomorrow
- 5:00 – End day
Build intentional breaks into your schedule. I didn’t start out with breaks. I just continued working and lost track of time. Sometimes, I forgot to eat lunch when I was caught up in a project or realized at the end of the day, I haven’t had any water. I know this can happen at the office too so it’s really a wellness reminder for any work situation.
These intentional breaks are when you get up from your computer and actively do something else for those 15 minutes. Something as simple as taking a quick walk down your street or refilling your water bottle will make an incredible and noticeable difference in the flow routine. Some other ideas are: Do a quick stretch routine. Snuggle with your pets. Have a light snack. Grab a Starbucks. Call a friend or colleague for a quick chat.
Anything that really gets you out from in front of your computer or workspace for a change of scenery.
Here’s a really easy, free daily planner printable to help you schedule your day like a pro.
Get dressed and ready.
Basically, don’t do your work in your pajamas. As tempting as it is, sticking to the routine of getting dressed in the morning will help put you in the “office” mindset and you will be more focused.
Now, let’s get real. You don’t need to put on a full face of makeup (ladies) or your professional clothes. Getting dressed might be as simple as putting on a pair of joggers or jeans and a t-shirt and throwing on some mascara and chapstick.
I have frequent meetings in my current role where we all use our web cameras so I can’t exactly be working in my pajamas and not have my hair brushed.
I’ve adopted a policy of following a modified version of my daily morning routine when I’m working from home. I’ll get dressed in more comfortable clothes (like above) and put on a little tinted moisturizer, mascara, blush, and some tinted chapstick.
Trust me – you’ll feel the difference. No matter how tempting it is to work in your pj’s – you will lose productivity.
If you want a few more than my 3 tips to successfully work from home, check out out this article on Forbes.