Many if not most of us in recent months have had to learn how to adjust to working from home. While there are many benefits to remote working, it also comes with challenges.
As the northern hemisphere settles into autumn, health experts are also predicting a second wave of the pandemic due to cooler weather and possible virus mutations. As a result, many businesses are preparing for a return to remote working conditions—and a continued adjustment to the “new normal.”
The suddenness of the original lockdowns thrust many into working from home with little preparation. In addition, they had to balance massive lifestyle shifts including online school and other challenges. This time around, we should be better prepared since we have advanced notice and experience on our side.
Those who continued with remote working since the springtime maybe into a groove, but others may have slid into bad habits and a second wave will only intensify them.
In order to be productive and successful while working from home, here are a few tips to keep in mind
These are simple practices but will make a remarkable difference.
1. Create a dedicated workspace
Whether you’re working from home part-time or full-time, maintaining a consistent place where you conduct work aids both in productivity and separating work from life. If it’s possible, set up your workspace separate from everything else to limit distractions and interruptions.
Once you have your office or area designated, aim to keep this space a “work zone,” meaning when you’re not working, leave the space. As well, keeping it tidy and organized will allow you to focus on the task at hand.
Bonus tip: If you’re in a shared space noise-cancelling headphones are a must-have! Block out the noise from other household activities along with barking dogs, sirens and other neighbourhood noises that can break your concentration. Find a playlist to keep you engaged and motivated and dig into your work.
2. Keep to flexible routines
Let’s face it, working from home while others, be it housemates or children doing online learning, isn’t ideal. There will be unplanned interruptions that you can’t avoid. However, sticking to as close-to-normal routine as possible is still the goal. Have working hours, consistent start and stop times, and build in a little room for those moments when you have to step away and deal with the unexpected.
Maintaining a regular schedule helps everyone’s day run smoother but we’re not in a place where we can be rigid about it. Things come up. Try and roll with it without inviting chaos. While we do need to be more flexible these days we also still need healthy boundaries. If you’re finding yourself bending more and more to things taking you away from work then it’s time to adjust and get back on track.
Bonus tip: A big part of implementing boundaries is having conversations about what you need. If you can articulate your expectations to your housemates they’ll be more aware of how available you are (or are not) during your working day.
3. Take breaks and go outside
Depending on your personality, taking scheduled breaks throughout the workday will have different challenges. If you are on a productive streak, taking a break may seem counter-intuitive. And if you’re easily distracted then getting back to work after a break may be the hard part. However, it’s important to take regular breaks—short breaks—to get up and move.
Staring at a screen indoors all day isn’t healthy so make sure to stand up, walk around and even go outside if you can. If it helps, set an alarm to make sure you remember to take a break or return to work.
Bonus tip: If you’re looking for a timed work practice to become more productive and take regular breaks, consider trying the Pomodoro Technique. It works like this: choose a task to work on and set a timer for 25 minutes. Work on the task until your timer goes off and then take a short break (no matter where you’re at in the process!). Then, set your timer for another 25 minutes and repeat.
In order to be successful when working from home, developing effective strategies and sanity-savers is key. Whether it’s designing your ideal workspace or setting a timer for lunch every day, building structure into your workday will both limit chaos and increase enjoyment.