Tips on how to be productive while working from home
Working from home comes with its perks, I’m sure you agree. You don’t have to worry about leaving your home as early as 6am to commute to work! Work in your Pajamas all day and have your dog or cat by your side but even though all of these sound like you won the lottery, some of us are still having a hard time with this new normal.
This is because we are doing so much more these days. You’re cleaning, entertaining yourself and family, cooking, exercising, taking care of your kids, helping kids with School work, doing backyard work and so much more. There are so many things to do that you may even feel that the 24 hours that make up a day is not sufficient for your daily tasks!
Now when you’re in the office, you’re focused and disciplined. You probably wouldn’t let anything come in the way of affecting how you carry out your job duties isn’t it?
Now that you’re working from home, you would need to be even more focused in order to remain productive. Yes, it may not be easy especially if you have kids but these 21 tips on how to be productive while working from home will help you.
1. Speak up
If your company asks that you work from home, it is important to speak up and ask them for the equipment you need to get the job done. Now, you may not realize you need equipment right away; but once you do realize, do not hesitate to ask. Whatever it is, ask as long as you’re not asking for too much. Printer, mouse, or laptop are great examples of what you may need.
2. Stay in touch with colleagues
If you are an extrovert, you really don’t want to be all by yourself all the time and even if you are an introvert it helps to stay in touch with colleagues. Some companies have chat channels where staff can reach out to one another. Great ways to keep in touch with colleagues are by phone, email, whatsapp or Skype.
3. Have a daily routine and stick to it
In the office you have a routine, so at home you need to have a routine too. The important thing here is that whatever routine you’re going to lay down for yourself has to be realistic and practical. Would an alarm clock normally wake you up when its time to get up and go to the office? If this is the case, set an alarm clock. An alarm clock keeps me on track and I believe this will help you too. Stick to a similar morning routine as you would. This would serve as a reminder that you really are ready to start work. Your morning routine could be showering, having breakfast and a cup of tea before settling down to work.
4. Remain visible
Just because you work from home does not mean you should isolate yourself completely from the rest of the world. If your company has upcoming meetings, training programs or team building meetings, ask your manager if you can attend. Another way to remain visible is by fixing a video call with colleagues or your boss weekly or biweekly.
5. Choose a Dedicated Workspace
Ensure you have a dedicated space for office work. All you really need is a table and chair, but if you can work behind closed doors, that’s even better. That way you’re not always moving stuff around. Moving files and office related materials around from dining table to living room, to backyard on a daily basis can be stressful and can also make you less productive. Having a dedicated work space keeps you in the right frame of mind.
6. Say No to Social Media…not forever
Social media can be a huge distraction, especially with everything going on in the world today. It is so easy to get lost browsing and looking at what’s going on out there. Remove social media from your browser shortcuts and log out of every account so that you can focus on your work. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t look at social media. You might want to set a t ime for that. It could be later in the evening, or while catching up on the News.
7. Do more than expected
Another great tip on how to be productive while working from home is for you to do more than is expected of you! I’ve heard some of my friends say that they tend to do more, when working from home and that it makes them feel better. Some aspects of your work may take longer than others. So doing more will help you complete those projects on time.
8. The busier you are, the more you would likely accomplish
This is so true even from experience. If you’re busy, there’s a high chance that you would complete all tasks that come your way. Similarly, if you’re working from home, there are times you know you have to be super productive especially if you have kids or pets. You may have to wake up super early or work late into the night. Or you may simply have to be super productive during the day when for instance your kids are entertaining themselves or when its their nap time if you have younger kids! When I have busy schedules, I tend to work better by managing my time so well.
9. Don’t get carried away with things you need to do at home
Image by Renate Köppel from Pixabay
It is very easy to get carried away with home duties. Just because you’re home does not mean you have to do all house chores during work time. That will lead to being less productive. Do your chores, at the times you would normally do them. This will help you stay organized and more focused instead of running all over the place doing house work and office work at the same time.
10. Healthy Eating
Eating healthy also helps keep us fit. Many will gain weight especially during the corona virus pandemic because we’re hardly moving around. It is therefore important to try as much as we can to stand up regularly while doing work. Also, try filling your refrigerator with healthy foods and fruits. It is also important to always have a bottle of water beside you at all times. You can add flavor to your water by adding a slice of lemon!
11. Keep Your Energy Levels Up and Take Breaks
Going for a walk, exercise, meditation and stretches will help keep your energy levels up. Taking breaks after spending time on the computer is crucial to our well-being. Take breaks, especially during lunchtime. Typically, one lunch hour seems to be the norm for most employees.
Whether it is one lunch hour or two you normally get at work, make sure you observe it at home too. You can even take your lunch outside and enjoy it in your backyard on a nice, hot day. When on lunch break, stay away from your computer screen and phone. Go outside appreciate nature, breathe in fresh air and just relax.
12. Motivate yourself with little rewards
Reward yourself! If you were able to complete your tasks for that day or week, do something nice for yourself. Call a friend, watch a movie, listen to your favorite music while enjoying a glass of lemonade or tea.
13. Manage Your Time
How many hours do you spend completing certain tasks? If you have no idea, then its time to start utilizing time management techniques such as prioritizing your tasks. For me, setting a timer for 40 to 50 minutes depending on the task at hand has been helpful. Also, depending on if you are an early bird or a night crawler, you might want to leave heavier tasks for those times you feel you would be super productive.
14. Keep Your Home Office or Desk Tidy
At work, there are janitors that clean up workstations, but at home you would have to do the cleaning yourself. Remember to tidy up and organize paper and documents. This is crucial because you don’t want to miss deadlines just because some documents were lost under a huge pile of sheets.
15. Working from home without childcare
It is not easy handling several things at once; more so if you have kids. The easiest way out would be to leave kids in front of screens. However, if you’re looking for a better way to keep kids engaged, the best thing to do is set a schedule or routine. You can arrange a space close to your workstation for your kids especially if they are younger.
If they are older, you can set up an area for them where they can be busy doing crafts, board games or even reading; that way, when you have virtual meetings, they are also busy. If they need your attention while you’re busy, a good way to let you know may be to write it down on paper and hand it over to you.
16. Communicate and set boundaries
“Once I have my headset on, my kids know its work time,” says a mom who’s worked from home for 5 years.
If you’re going to be working from home and you have other people there with you such as your spouse, sibling or kids, you need to communicate with them and set clear boundaries. Let them know when its work time. That way, they respect you and your work space.
17. Commit your family to same routine
Having a daily routine for all activities from breakfast time, to lunch, dinner, school work for the kids, work time for the parents and outdoor walks for everyone will help your family get through the day without stress because there is a structure in place. A good way to do this is to come together as a family, make a realistic poster and include all your activities. Put the poster in a visible spot. This will let everyone know what they need to do daily.
18. Set up snacks and drinks spot
I find this really helps if I know the next day or couples of days will be super busy. What I normally do is prep some snacks the night before in little bowls and place them in a visible spot. This works if your kids are ages 4 and up. Ofcourse, I show my kids the snack station so they know where to go if they need a snack or drink. It is important to teach them how to reach for their snacks and drinks. Let them even practice getting them in front of you; that way, when you’re on an important call, they will be able to help themselves.
19. Ask for help from a relative or friend
It is a good idea to ask for help when we need it. Even if your friends and relatives are miles away, they can still help virtually. You can ask your friend to set up a video call and monitor your kids while you’re in a meeting. Or you can ask your grandparents to help supervise your kids virtually. You may need to show them how to set up a video call. There are tons of videos about how to do this on the internet. They can help supervise craft sessions, or simply tell them fairy tale stories or even stories from back in the day!
20. Enjoy your kids
You’re working from home and your kids are home, well a good way to make this fun is to spend sometime with them too. Don’t judge yourself on how much you would normally have been able to accomplish if you were in the office. That will only add stress to your life. Find a way to balance your work and life by spending time with them too. It may be something as simple as enrolling you and your kids in an online yoga class or simply doing a craft together.
21. Reward good behavior
Sometimes even after you set boundaries, this may not be enough especially if you have younger kids. If you’re going to be on an important call, let your kids know that they can’t interrupt your call and that you would check back shortly. You can help them by starting a quiet puzzle or coloring.
Now, what happens if they interrupt your call or meeting? Be calm and just tell them quietly that you would check on them soon. After your call, it is important to address the situation immediately. Talk to your kids and let them know that interrupting does not help you do your job well and that they when you’re left alone, you can do your job better.
If they sit quietly and don’t interrupt, reward them by spending even more time with them and doing an activity you know they love.
I’m glad I could share these 21 tips on how to be productive while working from home with you.
Apart from the Corona virus, there may be other reasons you suddenly find yourself working from home. It could be due to a snow storm or even a power outage Working from home has its challenges. What’s important is you figuring out what works for you. There may be loads of distractions, but honestly it is not impossible to work from home effectively. In fact you get the best of both worlds by working from home and having your kids with you. Prioritize your time and stress less.
In what way have you had to change the ways you do things at home? Are you doing things differently? What are your tips for working effectively from home? Let me know in the comments.