Thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, many of you in our community with jobs and careers that are now being done at home are learning the same lessons millions of others around the country: it’s not that easy to just flip open a laptop and call the house where you work.
There are the distractions of home — a place that’s not an office.
But it can be done. Because, for the next couple weeks at least, it’s the alternative. It even has initials … WFH. And it can be fun.
So here’s a list of tips, hints and ideas to capture your productivity while at home, right from experts in the subject:
Maintain regular hours. Don’t fall into being available all times of the day. Be careful of pitfalls of 16-hour days. You wouldn’t do that in the office, right? Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. Avoid “work creep”.
Have dedicated office space. The living room or bedroom probably aren’t the best. Maybe set up in the spare bedroom. With luck, you’ll have a comfortable desk chair.
Create a morning routine. And stick to it. Even though the commute is now down the hall instead of down the road, you still need to “go to work”. Get a shower and dressed, at least out of your pajamas. Have your coffee and breakfast (if your day’s a traditional 9-to-5) before the work begins. The psychology of the the work mindset is important.
Set ground rules for others in the house. Maybe your spouse or adult children are also WFH. And if you have children who come home from school while you’re still working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time.
Find your most productive time. Some get more done first thing in the morning, others attack the afternoon. Discover when you are most productive and build your work schedule around your peak productivity periods.
Constantly update To-Do lists. Start your day by reviewing priorities for the day. When you make your task list, stick to it. After you complete each task, cross it off the list. This simple technique is both effective and fulfilling.
Schedule breaks — and take them. Break up the screen time. Get up and go make lunch. Get away from the screen and get some fresh air. Stretch regularly. Walking around the block should take no more than 15 minutes. Which leads to …
Leave the house. To the extent that it’s allowed and safe where you are during the COVID-19 outbreak. Fresh air and natural light will do you good.
Break up parenting time and tasks. A clear share plan maximizes productivity for all.
Socialize with colleagues. Use messaging apps like Slack and Zoom, and if there are meetings, “show up” and be heard. Overcommunicating — Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. When you finish a project or important task, say so — is okay. Just stay away from the “brain drain” that is most social media and watching TV while working.
Have an end-of-day routine as well. At the end of work, walk the dog or schedule a regular evening yoga class or podcast. Either way, signal the end of the day.
… and before you know it, the workday is over. With these tips, hopefully all the needed work got done!