In these uncertain times, many people are finding themselves working from home for the first time. If you’re not used to remote working, you may be finding it challenging to stay focused on your work.
Working from home doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you thrive off being in a busy workplace or work best when you can bounce ideas off your coworkers, working from home may leave you feeling flat. Don’t worry; the simple tips shared in this blog will help you to become a whizz at remote working.
You might expect yourself to be more productive away from the daily interruptions of office life, but sadly, it doesn’t always work out that way. You may even find you’re interrupted more often thanks to emails, instant messaging and mobile phones. While it’s great technology makes remote working possible, there are downsides to this ease of contact.
Here are some tips to help you stay focused and calm while working from home:
Stick to a routine
Routine is important, and it will help you to stay productive during your working day. Yes, you could sleep till noon and make up the lost hours in the evening, but that will very quickly leave you feeling burnt out. Be sure to set your alarm and stick to your regular working hours.
If you’re finding this difficult, try arranging a meeting via video link for first thing in the morning. You’ll have to be dressed (at least you top half) and at your desk for the call, and then you’ll be ready for the rest of the day.
Set up a work zone
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a fully kitted out home office at the end of your garden, so you can shut yourself off from home life when it’s time work. Or, maybe you’re like millions of other people and are trying to work from a chaotic corner of your bedroom. Whatever your circumstances, it is possible to create a functional work zone where you will be able to work productively.
Your workplace needs to be comfortable and practical. If you’re not used to working from home, you may not have access to an office chair or a suitable desk, so you may need to get creative. An ironing board is an excellent alternative to a standing desk. Choose a spot where you will be comfortable and able to spread out your things. Yes, most work happens online now, but you will likely still have a to-do list and other bits of paper lying around.
Spend time setting up your work area and making sure you have everything you need handy. Ideally, you will have a workspace you can leave in place each night, though this may not always be possible. If you’re working at your family dining table, for example, you’ll probably need to tidy away your work things at the end of each day. There will likely be compromises ahead if your workspace is also your living space.
Make the most of your commute time
Now that you’re working from home, you should have an extra chunk of time each day that you would previously have spent commuting. It might only be half an hour, or it could be a great deal more than that. Resist the temptation to work those extra hours each week, and instead take the time for yourself.
Exercise is a great way to lift your mood and focus your mind. Starting the day with a run or walk in the fresh air, or even a home workout in front of the TV can help set you up for a productive day ahead. You don’t need to get up any earlier than usual, claim your commute time as your exercise time. If your commute was previously your exercise time, you will quickly miss your daily cycle or walk, so be sure to keep it in your daily routine.
Take regular breaks
Many people find that they take less frequent breaks when working from home. This can make you less productive because you aren’t getting the time away from your desk. Each time you finish a big task or feel your concentration waning, take five minutes away from your desk. Stretch your legs, make yourself a drink or spend five minutes soaking up the sun in your garden.
Be strict with yourself, so these breaks don’t become too frequent or too long but do prioritise breaks when you feel you need them. Taking your mind off work for five minutes can help you to refocus with a clearer mind when you sit back down at your desk (or ironing board).
This doesn’t sound relevant, but what you eat can impact how you feel about yourself and how productive you are. Working alone at home is the perfect cover for eating full packets of biscuits away from public scrutiny. However, this will leave you feeling pretty rubbish later in the day. It’s much wiser to take a proper lunch break and make yourself something healthy and nutritious to eat.
If you usually grab a takeout lunch near the office, then you may find it annoying to have to prepare your food. Take the stress out of this by planning in advance what you’re going to eat and making sure you have all the right ingredients. A nutritious lunch will give you the energy you need for a productive afternoon. Taking care of yourself is crucial, especially in the current climate. Take the time to prepare a decent lunch for yourself lovingly – you won’t regret it.
If your colleagues or more like friends than coworkers, you’re probably missing those daily chats around the watercooler. Working from home doesn’t have to be a solitary activity; there are plenty of ways to engage with your colleagues online as you work from home. Google Hangouts is an excellent tool for instant messaging and, of course, there’s always email. Video conferencing software, like Zoom, lets you see your coworkers while you chat, which is a great way to beat those isolation blues.
Be careful not to let these apps distract you from your work, however. Set aside a couple of minutes each hour for checking in with your coworkers. You could even set yourself social rewards when you meet your targets. For example, each time you tick something off your to-do list, you can reward yourself by sending an email to a friend. Most of us aren’t used to being home so much, so it’s important to connect with your friends to stave off loneliness.
Make the most of your evenings
You started the day on time, so it’s vital to finish the day on time, too. Don’t get sucked into working right through until bedtime. Your evening is your time, and you deserve to enjoy it. Finish work on time and pack up your work stuff for the day. Then, the evening is all yours. Spend time with your loved ones, watch a movie or make something fancy for dinner. Do something you enjoy in your free time. Be sure to get an early night so you can wake up bright and early ready for another productive day tomorrow.