The ‘work from home’ culture has been trending for the past few years due to the changing priorities of many professionals. There are many who appreciate and seek work-life balance, flexibility and freedom these days. Plus, the coronavirus pandemic has made it almost mandatory for most to work from home.
Now, for people who are used to working from an office, working from home might pose quite a few challenges. These might include mounting work pressure, the anxiety to chase deadlines, the tension to keep yourself organized, the stress of using and learning digital tools, and above all, the feeling of doing this all alone amidst homely distractions.
So, how to beat all these challenges and get better at working from home? Here are some useful tips that you can follow:
Slip into presentable outfits:
Most professionals think that working from home comes with the biggest benefit of comfortably working in pajamas. And that’s true to an extent. But working in your pajamas can also keep you lazy and unproductive throughout the day.
So, you need to load up on energy by getting dressed before you start your working day. Here, getting dressed means putting on clothes that make you feel confident and accessorize properly to look presentable. This small tip will help you detach yourself from the feeling of ‘being at home’ and shift your mindset to that of ‘being at work’. The outcome? Boosted confidence and a more productive day! Besides, you will look great at your next Zoom or Skype meeting.
Create a separate workspace at home:
Remote working is also associated with the idea of being able to work from your couch or bed. However, it can become overwhelming if you mix up your work and home. Going to a regular office separates you physically from your home. But, when you are working from home, that physical distinction doesn’t exist, leading to a feeling of confusion and chaos.
You can eliminate this confusion by designating a separate area as your workspace within your home (thus creating a small but much needed physical distance). It could be a quiet corner or a completely separate room. Next, place a desk and a chair comfortable enough to sit for long hours. Place a few decorative items to make it look like a distinctive workspace.
This separation of workspace from the rest of your home will help you switch to a working mode, as soon as you enter your workspace. And more importantly, this will ensure that when you leave the workspace at the end of the day, you’re completely disengaged from work and are ready to enjoy life at home.
Define and stick to your work hours:
Just like creating a separate workspace, defining your working hours is equally important. Defining your work hours will help you to be mentally present at one place at a time – work or home. This way you will have a clear focus either on your work or your home. This practice will enhance your efficiency, improve your decision making, strengthen your work relationships, and decrease stress. This will also allow you to be available to your team for any group tasks or meetings. Additionally, you will be more present at home post your working hours, which will help you to interact and spend more time with the people you love.
Although fixing work hours is essential, having a bit of flexibility sometimes is also important. So, if you feel like taking a break or going for a walk during a tough day, do not hesitate. Once you’re back with a fresh mind, your productivity is sure to double up.
Set up morning/evening routines:
Commuting to a regular office is often seen as a waste of time. But this time is incredibly helpful. It helps your brain to shift from one mode to another – home to work mode and back. This time delay is essential, as your brain cannot jump directly from an important sales presentation to making dinner. It needs some time to shift between different tasks.
However, working from home doesn’t give your brain this buffer time. As soon as you’re done for the day at work, you probably enter your kitchen. So, the solution is to purposely create this time delay to allow your brain to smoothly transition between the two modes.
For this purpose, you need to set up your morning and evening routines and stick to them strictly. Include activities that you cannot do after your working hours start, such as – going out to enjoy some fresh air, listening to music, taking your dog for a walk, doing some exercise or stretching, going to a yoga class, etc.
Keep the distractions at bay:
Many professionals think that working from home involves fewer distractions than a regular office. But that’s not true. You may have more sources of distractions at home than at work. So, what can you do? Well, you can minimize the sources of distractions as much as you can.
For example – social media is a huge time sucker. So, try to stay away from social media and switch off or mute your notifications during the day. Similarly, avoid negative news, like updates on coronavirus cases. Instead of watching the news on TV, you can download a news app to get important headlines and go for full-fledged news, post working hours.
If it’s getting hard for you to focus while working from home, you can try some productivity apps that will track the time you spend on an activity and suggest how to minimize distractions.
Use apps for time management:
Staying focused on work can be hard for some people while they work from home. If you are also facing the same issue, you can download and use a time management app like Harvest, Toggl, or RescueTime. These apps will help you track your time spent on various activities and show you the productivity level for each day or every week. Moreover, it will show you the period of the day during which you are most productive. These metrics will give you the right picture of your productivity so that you can think of some improvement measures.
Working from home can bring about a feeling of isolation. Frequent communication is also essential to keep confusions and misunderstandings away in the absence of face to face communication. To minimize such feelings and confusion, you need to communicate more often than you regularly do.
Keep in regular touch with your boss and co-workers. Do not use email for informal communication. Instead, go for calling or texting. Use video calls as much as you can. Don’t just stick to work-related topics. Instead, make sure to engage in small talks. This can help reduce the feeling of loneliness that comes with working from home, especially if you are living alone. Some video chat apps that you can use are – Skype, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Facetime, and Cospace.
Keep a vision board handy:
Working from home is a new normal now and it’s going to be here even after the pandemic is over. So, you need to be ready to work in this mode for the next few months or maybe years. Such a long period of remote working might become boring. In such a situation, vision boards will keep you motivated. Use a vision board to write notes and stick pictures of your aspirations. Such visualization can be a great motivator and also work as a powerful mind exercise.
So, put these ‘work from home’ tips into practice today to streamline your routine and enhance your productivity while achieving a better work-life balance. Also, feel free to discuss these ideas with your supervisor and team mates, so that everyone can benefit and move towards a common goal.