While working from home can seem like a dream come true, it’s not always easy to keep productivity levels high. Without the hustle and bustle of the physical office environment, it can be hard to keep focus throughout the day.
There are a few simple tips and tricks to add to your how-to-work-from-home routine that will keep you on track while still allowing you to reap the benefits of working from home. Here are some ways to find the perfect work-from-home balance.
Keep Your Routines Consistent
While it may be tempting to sleep in a little longer and stay in your pajamas, maintaining your everyday office routine is a great way to make sure your day is starting off right. Omitting commute time, set your alarm clock to give you enough time to get dressed and cleaned up as you would if you were going into the office.
However, just as you would in the office, don’t go straight into work. Take some time after getting ready to cook yourself a healthy breakfast, catch up on the news, do a morning workout or make yourself some coffee. While this may sound counterintuitive, starting the day off with productive tasks also contributes to a more productive day. One of the biggest perks of working from home is that you have more resources to start your day off right. Instead of being limited to the granola bars at work, you now have the time and resources to cook yourself a delicious breakfast.
Other quick tips:
- Try a new coffee recipe or breakfast dish
- Use apps such as ClassPass, Nike Training & Core Power Yoga to do virtual workouts/stretches
- Take your dog on a quick walk
- Do your laundry
- Make your bed
- Pick out a new outfit
- Eat lunch and snacks at the same time you would in the office
Maintain a Healthy Working Environment
One of the most important factors that contribute to the level of your productivity is your working environment. While a home environment naturally brings a more comforting vibe, there are simple ways to ensure your work environment is as productive as possible:
- Stay away from working from your bed or even bedroom if possible
- Set up a stationary workspace
- Keep your workspace clean and tidy
- Work near natural light or well lit-areas
- Swap out your chair for a yoga ball or add desk exercise attachments (under-the-desk ellipticals, stress balls, etc.)
Set Boundaries with Kids/Partners/Roommates/Pets
One of the main differences between working from home and at the office is that there aren’t any loved ones to distract you while you’re at the office (unless you’re in a Jim and Pam situation). When you transition to work from home, many newcomers often find their partners or kids assuming that all time is hangout time, striking up conversations or entering rooms without concern for workflow.
The work from home transition isn’t just a change for you: it’s an adjustment for your family and roommates as well.
Be clear with them when you need undistracted focus time and when it’s okay to casually interact. A good rule is to set up a system or signal that tells them, “do not disturb.”
- If you have a roommate/significant other who is also wfh, establish a system that lets them know you are in a workflow that you don’t want interrupted (like closing a door or even just telling them)
- For kids, let them know that it’s not always mommy/daddy time. Have a timer that goes off every three hours, take a small break, have a snack, and go for a walk or play in the yard. The kids enjoy watching the timer count down, but they also know they need to let you work while it is on
- If you have a dog that likes fetch, hide toys and treats around the house to keep them distracted while you focus
- If you have a cat, get a second decoy keyboard for them to lay on while you use one for work
Working from home usually comes with a mantra of being more flexible. However, making sure that you set clear goals for each and every day ensures you won’t be too flexible in your to-do’s. Whether it’s making a to-do list or updating your calendar, make sure you know exactly where you want to be in your workload after each day. Try keeping organized by:
- Creating a physical to-do list and crossing them out when completed
- Making a timeline for each project
- Updating your calendar with meetings/events
- Creating meeting itineraries
- Keeping your workspace tidy
Take Frequent Breaks
Whether you’re in the office or working from home, taking frequent breaks (typically every hour) is actually a very effective way to prevent the dreaded “burn-out.” Try to make these physical breaks as well as mental breaks. Rather than simply taking a few minutes to scroll on your phone or watch a video, try to do an activity that requires you to get out of your chair, such as:
- Folding your laundry
- Doing the dishes
- Doing some stretches, jumping jacks, push-ups, etc.
- Taking a walk
- Checking your physical mailbox
- Getting a snack
- Playing with your pets
It’s important to keep in mind that these breaks don’t have to be carefully calculated, super productive breaks. Even doing a small chore or activity that requires you to leave your desk is perfectly fine.
Set Clear Work/Life Boundaries
With everyone working from home, it’s likely there will be multiple people (or pets) that’ll be occupying your work-from-home environment. If you have roommates, family members or friends staying with you, make sure to set clear boundaries from the beginning to ensure you won’t be distracting one another. Some discussion topics may include:
- Meeting times or windows where you need absolute silence
- Overall volume and light level
- Best communication tactics if you’re easily distracted (text first, wave first, etc.)
- Who will occupy what workspace
- START and STOP times for every day
White Noise Can Be Your Friend
A lot of what makes an office tick is the ambient noise of work being done – the sound of indistinguishable nearby chatter, keyboards clacking, soda cans being opened, printers printing. It can be difficult getting into the work mindset when you’re now at a place you usually associate with relaxation and rejuvenation from the office environment.
White or ambient noise can help create the aura of “place.” It will often help your mind focus on a task as opposed to wandering around in needless thought.
- Utilize binaural music to give you ambient noise while stimulating your brain
- Turn on an even keel TV show to play in the background like Law & Order
- Find an ambient noise playlist that mimics office or coffeeshop environments
Use Headphones on Your Video Calls
This one goes without saying. Don’t be the person that causes feeback.
While there is undoubtedly more flexibility with working from home, it’s always important to start the day off right and keep the workflow consistent. Remember that “working from home” is exactly what the phrase entails: getting your work done simply in the comfort of your own home. Take advantage of the benefits of working from home while making sure you’re being just as productive as you would be in the office. What is your favorite work-from-home tip? Share with us!