In what seemed like the blink of an eye, millions of office-based employees had to start working from their homes. The COVID-19 pandemic meant that most offices were closed, and whenever possible, people began having to work remotely.
Now, while working from home might be the dream, it takes self-discipline and organization to be able to do it effectively over a long period of time. Ask anyone who works from home full-time—it’s not all working in your pajamas and getting out of bed later.
Once the novelty has worn off, you need to put some structure in place to ensure that you are still working productively and using your time efficiently.
Here are some tips to make working from home a success.
1. Create a Dedicated Workspace
Yes, you could lie on your bed with your laptop or sit on the couch for the day, but that doesn’t mean that you should. It doesn’t put you in the right headspace—not to mention all the physical issues it can cause for your back, neck, and posture.
Create a space that’s just for working in. If you have a spare room you can use for working, great. If not, a dining table or personal desk will work too. You want to create both a physical and mental space that’s conducive to working.
2. Plan Your Day, and Stick to It
It’s easy to get caught up in the convenience of being at home. After all, it’s great for work-life balance; but you need to stick to a schedule to make sure you protect that balance.
A chaotic day where you’re constantly distracted, working intermittently, and not being productive could end with you putting way too much extra time in after hours just to keep up with your workload.
Plan your schedule, tasks, and priorities each day, and stick to them.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Many people find that once they start working from home, they become more sedentary. Slipping into unhealthy habits is really easy when you’re so close to your own refrigerator or can order takeout at the press of an app.
Make your health and wellbeing a priority. Being at home can give you a great opportunity to practice making fresh, healthy meals. Prepare healthy meals and snacks in advance so that you’re not reaching for convenience food during your lunch break.
Movement has not only physical benefits, but mental ones, too. Set aside exercise time during your day as you would schedule an important meeting.
Since you’re saving time on commuting, one idea to try is doing a “virtual commute.” Every morning, before you start work, leave your house and walk or run a circuit around your neighborhood in place of your commute to the office.
A standing desk is also great for counteracting the aches and pains that sitting in front of a screen for long periods produces. You can even find a small unit that will stand on top of a desk or table.
5. Know When to Switch Off for the Day
Once your work is done, leave your home office, shut your laptop, and concentrate on enjoying your free time. Setting and sticking to regular working hours instead of working on-again and off-again throughout the day helps keep your work from intruding into your personal time.
6. Make Sure Your Tech Is Up to the Job
When it comes to remote working, you’re only as good as your internet connection. If your home connection is unstable, or you’re on a limited data plan, then you’re going to need to make sure you have a suitable connection. This can mean using WiFi amplifiers, updating your home router, or changing services altogether.
For the rest of your IT needs, your employer should provide you with whatever equipment you need to do your job remotely. This could be in the form of laptops. VoIP and conferencing equipment, headsets, etc.
Familiarize yourself with your company’s tech policy to make sure you are accessing company data securely. You’ll also need to know what to do if you have any technical problems. Do you need to contact your employer’s in-house team, or are they used a Managed Service Provider to run their remote setup? Know who to contact if you run into issues.
7. Eliminate Distractions
Working from home can increase your potential for getting distracted. Some distractions you may not be able to do anything about (kids, for example), but others, you can. It might be tempting to put the TV on in the background while you work—but before you know it, you’re three episodes into Breaking Bad and haven’t gotten anything else done.
It’s tempting to take care of household tasks too. Don’t spend your day catching up on dishes or laundry. If there are things you need to do, then schedule it in before it becomes a major drain on your productivity.
If you find that other responsibilities are tugging on your attention, write a list of the things you need to accomplish after work is done so you don’t forget them. Doing a mental brain-dump can help assuage your worries by promising yourself that you won’t forget and will get other essential things done.
8. Take a Break
It can be easy to lose track of time, especially when you don’t have the opportunity to walk around the office and talk to colleagues. If you’re prone to losing track of time, set an alarm on your phone or your laptop to remind you to step away from your screen for a few minutes every so often.
9. Get Some Fresh Air
Don’t stay cooped up in the house all day. Get outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes before you start working or during one of your scheduled breaks. It’s great for lowering stress levels and resetting your mind!
Use these tips to be more productive and maintain a better work-life balance while working from home!