Federal guidelines for stay-at-home have been extended for at least another month which means that working from home has become a new, long term reality for nearly all of us.
For those of us who are still trying to find our groove, here are Rhythm’s 6 quick tips to boost productivity and ensure that you make the most of your time working from home:
1. Designate a specific workspace
Now that you’re working from home, it’s easy for the boundaries between your personal and work life to blur together. You might feel tempted to work on your bed, or put on a show as you sit on the couch with your laptop, but these distractions make it difficult for your mind to get into the mentality that you’re not just home--you’re working.
If you haven’t already, create a space that’s specifically for work-related matters. It can range anywhere from an old room, your dining table or a converted dresser; the key is that you’re physically and mentally separating your work life and personal life, creating the environment for your brain to feel like it’s your workplace.
Also be sure to organize your physical and digital work spaces; it helps to clear out physical and mental clutter when you don’t have papers and files everywhere on your desktop.
2. Set a routine and stick to it
When retired Astronaut Scott Kelly lived in isolation on the International Space Station for a year, his advice for the New York Times was to set a schedule for himself, from the minute he woke up to the minute he fell asleep.
“You will find maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment,” Kelly said.
While your schedule doesn’t have to look as rigid as Kelly’s, creating a routine provides structure in what can feel like an unstable and volatile time in our lives. Apart from following your company’s set hours, employ a morning or after work routine that will pull you in and draw you out of work. Drink a cup of coffee or set some time aside to wind down after a full day. Whatever it is, make your days consistent; it’ll help you generally know what to expect each day.
3. Set ground rules with the people in your space
For those of us who don’t live alone, the transition from seeing your family or roommates after work to seeing them all the time can feel like a big shock. To maintain some order, set ground rules with the people you live with.
You may be at home, but you might still have meetings, phone calls and projects that need silence, concentration or isolation. Communicate with your family or roommates about what you can or cannot do during these situations. Set general rules for what to do when you’re about to jump into a meeting or how loud to keep the volume when others are taking calls. This can help you and the people you live with keep the peace and navigate the dynamic of being together all at once.
4. Get dressed
You’ve heard this tip before for a phone interview: even if you’re not being seen, getting dressed helps you feel—and therefore be—professional.
The same logic applies when working from home. While you don’t have to put on a full outfit every day, it’s suggested that you put on a pair of pants or at least a shirt. Doing so can put you into the mindset that you’re outside of a living space and you’re ready to work.
5. Make a to-do list
If you have trouble getting things done at home, consider making a to-do list. It can help to break down those bigger goals into manageable steps. By specifying how you’d accomplish each goal, your tasks will feel more achievable, which can boost productivity and motivate you to tick the boxes.
For example, the overall goal “Finish the Proposal” can be broken down into “Finish writing first paragraph,” “Ask XXX about YYY data to include in the proposal,” “Incorporate YYY data into the proposal,” and so on.
When done well, a to-do list gives you a helpful roadmap for accomplishing your daily tasks.
6. Take breaks from time to time
A side effect of social distancing is cabin fever. It’s easy to feel restless and a little crazy while you’re cooped up in your house.
Keeping your company’s hours in mind, use your lunch and breaks to get away from the screen and phone. Use this time to eat, stretch or do some exercise. Schedule calls with friends during lunches to break the monotony and reconnect with others. If you plan to take a walk, make sure you do so in places that are not crowded and go alone if you can.
All in all, working from home can be a productive and positive experience. That being said, everyone has a routine or lifestyle that works best for them. These tips are suggested guidelines that can help you stay on track, but ultimately, you know yourself best. There’s many ways to find your groove, so just be patient and try out different things to see what works and what doesn’t.