I’d be willing to bet you’re reading this from home. As you should be! It’s a strange and uncertain time for all of us right now, and although we’ve all had routine changes and things that have flipped our day-to-day inside out, we still have to work.
Working from home is such a desired job perk by so many. Waking up in your PJ’s, heading straight to the computer, taking leisurely lunches, etc. Well, after 2 weeks on lockdown, I’m hearing from a lot more people that it’s not as glamorous as they thought.
I’ve been working from home for 5 years. 5 years ago I remember sitting on my living room couch with my head in my hands thinking there was just no way I could work from home for the long-run. I found it takes a lot of self-control, self-discipline, and really stellar time-management skills. That didn’t feel like me.
If you’re finding yourself struggling with distractions and productivity, I’m here to tell you that you can successfully work from home. Here are my 5 tried and true tips that will set you up for success while you navigate this new phase of work-life balance.
Have a designated working space.
Your bed and your couch are not sustainable places to work from all day. In those spots, you’ll be more easily distracted and eventually, uncomfortable. Plus, I think it’s incredibly important that you try and keep your "living spaces" separate from "working spaces", or else you'll feel like you're even more cooped up! Any table is fine, if you're in a space that's not super flexible, even a TV tray looking out a window can give you the change of scenery you need. This can also help you find signifiers to "start" and "end" your workday. If you have a small home office space, going to it in the morning means work time, and leaving it in the afternoon means you're done.
Don't roll out of bed right to your computer.
It's tempting, I know! But just like they say you shouldn't sit on your phone first thing in the morning, you shouldn't go to your computer either. If you start work without breakfast, changing, brushing your teeth, etc. - you're more likely to have to stop later in the morning and ruin your workflow. If you prepare yourself for a workday, just as if you were going into the office, you'll feel more productive.
Keep your routine.
This is different for everyone, but a routine can really help. If you're finding yourself not feeling productive, a little off, and not feeling that great, sometimes putting on clothes and getting yourself ready for a day as if you were leaving to go to the office can really help - even if you're just sitting on the couch. If you have a morning routine that you’ve always done before leaving for the office, stick with it. Sometimes that can be a signal for your body that it’s time to work.
Structure can be liberating!
It's important to get up and move around without getting sucked in by all of the temptations around your house. A timer can really help in this department! I work in pomodoros, which means I work for 25 minutes at a time, and then I take a 5-minute break. This really helps so I never take a break that will keep me away from work for too long. However, it's really important to be gracious with yourself. Take some walks around the block when you feel cooped up, take time to eat lunch - but set timers! Timers can provide you with the structure that keeps your 30-minute lunch break from turning into an hour+.
I can’t stress this enough. It’s so easy to get in your own work-flow at home and forget you even have to touch base with people. But please, stay connected to your coworkers. Communication is key to any relationship, and to any organization. Even if it’s a small thing, get on the phone, you might feel better and you might even end up saving time. If you can, I highly suggest doing video meetings whenever you have a meeting. It can make a really big difference in keeping people connected and productive!
Full disclosure, you will probably see 1000 articles about working from home as we navigate this new time in our community. I say the most important thing is to be gracious with yourself. Some things will work for you that won’t work for others and vice versa. When you find something that works for you and is aiding your productivity, stick to it!