Working from home seems like a dream—until you start doing it and realize that it can actually be more challenging to work when you’re only a few steps away from the bed. If your focus is waning and you need a boost, here are seven tricks and tips for working from home during (and beyond) the pandemic:
Designate a Separate Area for Work
To boost productivity at home, the first step is to establish a space where you can block everything out and focus on work. Finishing reports from the dining table may be fine once in a while, but for everyday office work, it’s important to isolate yourself from distractions.
A home office may be ideal, but not everyone has an entire room to spare. Instead, opt for a quiet corner of the house that can fit a desk and chair. If you have space, invest in a small shelf or file cabinet to keep your work environment as tidy and uncluttered as possible.
Stick to a Routine
When working in an office, you cross multiple lines before getting in the right mindset for work—setting the alarm early, getting dressed, driving to the office, and so on. But at home, all the lines get blurred and it becomes more challenging to get in the mood for a nine-to-five job.
So, adopt a routine for shifting into “work gear” every day. Wake up early and get dressed in office clothes (or at least change out of your pajamas). Before settling at the desk, you could even take a quick walk around the block to replicate your usual commute.
A strict schedule can also help you achieve working from home productivity. Just as going to sleep at the same time every night beats insomnia, working on a schedule trains your mind and body to expect the grind at a certain hour of the day.
Make a To-Do List
To-do lists aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but when assignments are piling up and your mind is starting to spin, a list can help you stay organized and on track.
Even a simple outline provides a clear, concrete overview of the things on your plate, making it easy to identify the priority projects that absolutely needs to be completed by the end of the day. Writing it down also ensures that you don’t forget smaller tasks that could easily slip your mind.
Plus, it feels good ticking things off a to-do list!
Focus on One Thing at a Time
Multitasking is impressive, but jumping between tasks is probably making it take longer. Juggling different tasks at the same time makes it more difficult to get into the flow state, which is a state of mind of utmost focus, concentration, and productivity.
If you want to boost productivity at home, focus on one important task at a time. Avoid checking messages or emails that interrupt the flow state. For longer projects, work in one- or two-hour blocks that let you get in the zone without being out of reach for too long.
Another thing that can help you focus and reach flow state is removing distractions around you.
If you have an office door, make sure it’s shut to prevent family members from constantly popping in. Otherwise, slip on a pair of headphones. Reduce clutter on your desk, like unread books, magazines, unfinished crochet projects, and others. Aside from turning off the sound on devices, keep your phone out of arm’s reach to resist the temptation while working.
Set Boundaries for Work and Home
When you’re working at the same place where you live, work-life boundaries can start becoming non-existent, leading to burnout. Pretty soon, you’ll be answering emails at midnight and dealing with family members asking questions in the middle of Zoom meetings.
One of the keys to working from home productivity is creating healthy boundaries for professional and personal life. Let your family or housemates know that you are off-limits for board games and gossip sessions during office hours. But also, resist the temptation (or pressure) to work longer days. At the end of your work shift, turn the computer off, log out of the office chat, and stop responding to emails outside of emergencies—trust us, you’ll survive.
Take a Break
Out of all the tips for working from home, this one is among the most important: take regular breaks. Do you work for eight or nine hours straight at the office? Few people do—and you shouldn’t at home. Throughout the workday, take 10- or 15-minute breaks to drink coffee, enjoy some snacks, stretch your legs, and refresh the mind.
Once in a while, give yourself longer breaks that allow you to relax and recover from the daily grind. Find a great destination via KKday and plan a quick getaway, whether solo or with the family.
After all, even remote workers need a vacation (or staycation) now and then!