As the new coronavirus situation unfolds across the U.S., schools are closing, events are being canceled and many companies are sending their employees to work from home. For those who aren’t used to it, this can be a real challenge initially, so here are ten tips to help you stay focused and productive during this time.
1. Stick to your usual schedule
When you know your office is just five feet away, it’s easy to hit the snooze button one more time. However, sticking to your usual schedule is more important than ever. That’s because you’ll have to practice self-accountability while working from home. And, unfortunately, sleeping in can throw off your entire day and make you feel drowsy and always one step behind. A good rule of thumb is to wake up at the same time as you would if you were going to the office and stick to your normal routine.
2. Put on pants
While it doesn’t have to be your regular work clothes, simply changing from your pajamas to leggings or slacks means you’ll be less tempted to go back to bed. Also, continuing to do all the little things you’d normally do in the morning—like showering, brushing your teeth or combing your hair—will help you create a clear mental transition between leisure time and work time.
3. Set up a dedicated workspace
Ideally, this is a different room where you could close the door and immerse yourself in your work. However, if this is not an option, try your best to avoid working from the bed or the couch, which are associated with leisure time. Also, position yourself away from distractions like clutter, dirty dishes, or laundry that needs to be done. Keep them out of sight and out of mind—at least for a little while.
4. Set clear boundaries
If you share your space with family or roommates, make sure they understand that just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you’re available at all times. Agree on a timeframe in which you’re not to be disturbed and stick to it. This might be more difficult if you have children who are also staying home from school during this period. In this situation, try to get them engaged in tasks that will keep them busy. For instance, a New York Times article suggests giving them assignments—depending on their age and needs—so they could work alongside you.
5. Log out of social media
Most of us are tempted to check social media during downtime. But, if you’re not careful, this can easily get out of hand and waste precious time. To avoid this, log out of all your social media accounts and consider removing them from your bookmarks. This way, instead of facing an endless stream of content, seeing that login screen will make you rethink why you opened that tab or app in the first place.
6. Remember to take breaks
While it is easier to be productive without all the buzzing and shuffling going on at the office, it’s also easier to forget to take breaks because you don’t see your coworkers do it. So, give yourself some time to stretch your legs and step away from the computer screen to rest your eyes. If you have to, schedule regular reminders on your calendar, just like you would do for meetings.
7. Eat healthy
While working from home, it’s easy to fall into the trap of idle snacking. Similarly, ordering fast food or heating up frozen, processed meals can also become an issue. Bad eating habits negatively impact your mood and energy levels. Therefore, it’s important to stay hydrated, prepare some healthy snacks, and plan home-cooked meals. Just be sure to do this the night before so you don’t end up chopping vegetables and boiling pasta during work hours.
8. Exercise during your commute time
Working from home can also trap you in an endless bed-desk-couch-bed cycle, especially now, when many gyms are closed. So, to keep your energy level up and avoid getting stuck in an unhealthy routine, convert your usual commute time into exercise. Luckily, there are plenty of exercises that don’t require special equipment. To get started, check out what six fitness experts recommend here and get moving!
9. Stay connected
Communication can prove challenging when working from home, which affects the productivity of the team as a whole, as well as the social needs of each individual employee. Fortunately, you can stay connected with your manager and coworkers through chat and conference apps. Set clear goals and hop on a voice or video call if something could be better explained that way. Meanwhile, if you feel isolated, check in with your friends regularly.
10. Switch off at the end of the schedule
Working from home, you won’t be able to see your coworkers leave the office, indicating that the workday is over. And, if you’re not careful, answering one more email and completing just one more task could spiral into hours of overtime. Although this may not seem a problem at the beginning of the week, exhaustion will accumulate until you’re unable to focus anymore. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is just as important as eating well and exercising, so put the computer away or shut down the work applications once the workday is over.
The CommercialCafe team