For many of us, working from home is the new normal. Luckily, adapting to our new situation is possible—but no one said it would be simple. Working from home has its ups and its downs!
On the one hand, it can be a blessing to have your commute reduced to the distance between your bed and your desk. On the other hand, working and living in the same space can be incredibly frustrating.
This new norm can make it difficult to separate your work spaces from your play spaces, and staying productive while working from home is a challenge. If you, like many others, are struggling to stay on top of your to-dos in this new situation, read on. We’ve got seven ways to help you get and stay productive when working from home.
#1 Set Goals
Set between 2 and 5 clear, attainable goals each day to help keep from feeling overwhelmed or sinking into a rut. This is my personal strategy, and it works wonders!
While there are advantages to working from home, coping with the stress, inconvenience, chaos, and grief brought on by the coronavirus pandemic means we can all benefit from having additional structure. Setting clear goals helps you stay focused and accountable.
Setting goals is a best practice no matter what your work setting is, but it’s especially important when you don’t have the social and physical structure of an office, coworkers, or a supervisor. You can set daily, weekly, and even monthly goals according to your work schedule. Make sure you build in enough flexibility to handle any disruption—if we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that circumstances can change quickly!
#2 Don’t be a Hermit
Working remotely can become incredibly isolating, and this will have a negative effect on your work. The change from working with your team in-person to working from home with little social interaction can be frustrating, to say the least.
Try not to isolate yourself too much, even when you need to hunker down and focus! Though there might not be a friendly face in the cubicle next to yours or down the hall anymore, you can still pick up the phone or fire up Zoom and give your colleagues a call. Remember that some human interaction is always better than no interaction!
#3 Give Yourself Grace
Remember what life was like when you were working in the office—there was probably a lot of downtime that you didn’t even realize was happening. Your home office should be held to the same standard. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you have to be 100% focused 100% of the time.
Research shows that the most productive employees take 5- to 17-minute breaks after 25 minutes to an hour of work. These short breaks will help you come back feeling refreshed and ready to focus, so don’t be afraid to take them while working from home!
Stepping away from your tasks and your computer screen can actually help you be more productive. Giving yourself a little grace and taking a few minutes to process a new task or agenda item will make you less likely to make mistakes, and keep you feeling more energized throughout the day.
#4 Embrace Multitasking
Although everyone’s ability to multitask is limited, it is possible to juggle more than one task at a time during the day. For instance, you can put on a Netflix show or podcast in the background while working on manual tasks that don’t require your full attention, or wash some dishes and fold laundry while muted on a conference call.
Make note of the times during your day when you have the attention and time to devote to more than one activity, and take advantage of them! You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done.
When in doubt, it’s okay to ask for help! When a process is unclear, or you need clarification on top priorities, or you forgot a detail, just ask!
Making the change to working from home means that communication has also changed. You no longer have the option of popping into someone’s office to ask a quick clarifying question, but it’s important to maintain those points of communication so you stay on top of your projects.
Communication is more important than ever, and it’s up to everyone—including you—to do their part in communicating effectively. More often than not, someone else on your team will have the exact same question you did, and you’ll learn they were relieved that you asked!
Nothing is more annoying than having to redo work because you misunderstood the expectations or missed an important detail. Save yourself the headaches and the time by communicating.
#6 Invest in Useful Resources
There are so many great resources available to make working from home easier! It’s important to do some research on what tools you could use to boost your productivity.
A few great resources include things like Asana for task management, Slack for communication, Zoom for video calls, and Serene for goal-setting and blocking distractions.
Along with downloading and using these resources, invest in items that will allow you to work on the go—not just in your home. If you have a smartphone, laptop, car charger, and portable Wi-Fi hotspot, you can work in your back yard, the park, or even your car!
#7 Create a Personal Workspace
Not everyone has a full spare room to flip into a kitted-out home office, but it is important to create a specific work zone. This will signal to your brain—and any quarantine peeps you live with—that you’re on the clock. Check out the article Beautify Your Workspace for some ideas!
Get creative: your workspace can be a desk in a guest bedroom, a specific chair and TV tray, or even your bed when the bedroom door is closed. You can signal that you’re on the clock with headphones, a handmade sign, or any other item that signals “do not disturb.” No matter what, make sure you have at least one place you can go when you need a quiet spot for phone calls, meetings, and other virtual appointments.
Mentally, having a separate space can help you get into a working mindset, and help create boundaries between work time and downtime. If you have children or other family members around, this is especially important!
Related: How to Master Working from Home
Remember: if there’s a will, there’s a way. We have always learned to adapt to our environments, and this is no different. Working from home has its drawbacks, but it helps to be optimistic and find ways to stay positive and productive!
How are you adjusting to the work from home life? Feel free to jump into the conversation via our City Girl Savings Facebook page and share what works best for you! For more CGS content, follow us on IG and Twitter @citygirlsavings. We love staying in touch with our community!