The news and details surrounding Covid-19 have led to a number of offices and schools closing this past week. And for many, it’s the first time you’ve had to work from home for an extended amount of time.
At first, it may be exciting to not have to go in, but can quickly become intimidating given the number of distractions and the shake-up to your normal routine. I’ve been doing it now for 2-years as an entrepreneur and can attest to the fact that it’s certainly an adjustment, but maintaining productivity is possible. And given that this isn’t just a one-off work from home day, staying focused is of the utmost importance.
So, whether it’s due to Covid-19, or if you’re new to this home office lifestyle, here are some tips to make the most of your new normal.
Take a shower.
This is a seemingly small task, but can make a tremendous impact. Taking a quick shower in the morning is a great way to awaken your senses for the day and help develop a routine. After the shower, change into something outside of your normal pajamas to help differentiate this time working at home from when you’re just lounging around.
Maintain regular office hours.
Often times we think working from home gives us leeway to sleep in, but the best way to maintain productivity is to stick to your usual routine. Get up at the time you usually do, and in lieu of that commute, make yourself some breakfast.
It’s important to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it so you don’t fall off track. And within these office hours, lock in time for breaks to help eliminate the urge to feed into distractions.
Create a specific office space.
I get it, not all of us have a spare room in our homes to set up a real-life office, but there are ways to work around that. You can set up your laptop, notebook, pens and other supplies you’d normally have at your desk on your kitchen counter or the coffee table in your living room.
If limited to your bedroom, that could mean sitting on top of your sheets in an upright position, instead of being snuggled up under them and resting on your pillows. Stick to this area as you work, and when taking breaks move to another space in your home to help distinguish them.
Set boundaries with those around you.
For a lot of us, our spouses, kids, or roommates will be home as well during this time. It’s important to communicate boundaries to help stay on track. Let them know of your specific 9 – 5 schedule and that this isn’t the time to hang out and binge shows together like usual. With kids, set up a specific at-home schedule for them as well with various activities that coincide with your routine.
This is also important for those who don’t live with you. Let your friends know that this isn’t the time for random midday phone calls or lunches. Stick to after-work activities the same way you would if you were at the office.
Turn off notifications.
No matter how much we try to ignore them, notifications can be distracting. Control when you do and do not react to them by turning them off altogether. Set specific times in which you’ll check your phone or your e-mail, and in between that lock-in on getting your work done.
This is also the same for the television, it may be tempting but keep it off until the end of the day. Even as you take breaks. Just a few minutes of watching television can have you sucked in and it may be hard to regain that focus afterward.
Communicate with colleagues.
Working from home is lonely, trust me. And just because you are no longer in the office doesn’t mean you can’t still lean on your colleagues. Keep the lines of communication open and reach out to them for help and guidance as you normally would if in the office.
When you’re done for the day, be done.
Just because you work from home, doesn’t mean you always need to be working. If you’ve set your schedule to 5 or 6 pm, wrap your workday up at that time. Close or shut down your computer and resume your normal after-work activities. It may be tempting to keep working for a few more minutes, but that can quickly escalate to an all-nighter.
It’s also important to be transparent with your superiors during this time. If they reach out to you about completing a task after your designated end time, ask them if it’s something you can work on first thing the next day.
Working from home and being productive can be a little tricky at first, but it’s definitely doable. Don’t be too hard on yourself in this process, work each day to develop the discipline and a routine that works best for you.