15 Tips To Make Working From Home Productive and Enjoyable
The COVID lockdowns last spring forced many businesses to send their employees home to work in order to slow the spread of the virus. For many companies, this was done with great reluctance, as executives believed that productivity would suffer. Surprisingly, however, work from home (WFH) has turned out very well. Not only has the impact on productivity been limited, but there have been significant side benefits:
- For employers, less office space is needed, resulting in significant overhead savings; and
- For employees, there is little or no need to be physically close to the office. This has opened up the opportunity to move away from major cities to smaller communities where real estate is less expensive.
While some employees may move back to the office once the pandemic is behind us, the above benefits mean that WFH is most likely here to stay in a big way.
For those who have never worked from home, it can be a huge adjustment and a major challenge to establish and maintain some boundaries between personal and business life at home. Here are 15 tips to help you make it work:
- Establish a separate work area
The first step in separating work life from personal life is to identify a space in your home that will be dedicated to work. Whether it’s a spare bedroom, den, or an unused nook in the basement, the key is to make this a ‘work only’ space and commit to working there every day.
- Don’t scrimp on technology
To work efficiently at home, you’ll need a fast computer with a big monitor, appropriate software, a reliable high-speed internet connection and, depending on the nature of your work, a good quality printer. Don’t go cheap – you’ll be working with this equipment every day, and you don’t need the hassles of unreliable technology.
- Invest in quality office furniture
A comfortable and ergonomic office chair is a must, and you should consider buying a large desk, bookshelves and filing cabinet. You want this to be a space that you enjoy working in.
- Set a definite work schedule
Because you are working from home, you have the flexibility to establish a schedule that suits your personality and life-style. For example, if you are a morning person, you might want to work from, say, 7 am to 3 pm. Whatever your schedule, however, stick to it as closely as possible. Avoid letting your work life creep into your personal like or vice versa.
- Have a well-defined morning routine
While it’s nice to not have to commute to the office, you still need a morning routine that gets you to work on time. This means getting up at the same time every day, and performing the same series of activities, such as showering, getting dressed in your ‘business clothes’ and having breakfast. Don’t work in your PJ’s, it will ruin your ‘work mind set’ and make you less productive!
- Keep your to-do list up-to-date
When you are working by yourself at home, it’s easy to lose track of priorities and due dates and lose track of what needs to get done today. Start every day by reviewing what needs to get done, make or update your to-do list, and then cross off each task as you complete it. Not only will this keep you focused on what’s important, it will help to avoid overwhelm.
Morning exercise gets you moving, and also increases endorphins, which improves enjoyment interest level. You should also get up and stretch regularly to improve posture and fend off stiffness and soreness.
- Be careful what you eat
Working at home, the kitchen is always handy, and it’s tempting to indulge in the usual unhealthy snacks. Ideally you should eliminate the temptation by filling your fridge with fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks, and avoid buying the unhealthy stuff altogether. Not only will this keep your weight down, it will also give you more energy and make you more productive.
- Take short breaks
It may seem that you can get more done if you don’t take any breaks but, in fact, the opposite is true. Frequent short breaks will re-energize you and make you more productive. In the long run, it will help to avoid burnout. Set timers or alarms to make sure you stop for regular breaks.
- Have a scheduled time to stop working
Just as you need a habitual morning routing to get you started at the right time every day, you need a regular ‘stop work routine’ to help you transition to your personal life. For example, you could set an alarm for quitting time and, as soon as the alarm goes off, put your work files away, clean up your desk, do a quick review of what was accomplished that day and list the top priorities for tomorrow.
- Avoid social media
This is a big one. Enormous amounts of time can be wasted on social media if you aren’t careful. Try logging out of all of your social media accounts before start work in the morning and the logging back in after you finish work. If you can make this part of your daily routine it will become a habit and you’ll accomplish a lot more.
- Listen to music
Listening to lyric-free music (at low volume) and actually help to focus and be less subject to distractions. You can pick music that matches your energy at the moment and the task you are working on. Consider investing in some good quality headphones (with a mic so you can take phone calls with them) to help you focus even more.
- Don’t stay inside all day
Take some time throughout the day to get outside for fresh air and sunshine, go for a short walk or just hang out in the back yard. Social distancing rules apply of course…
- Schedule errands and appointments around you lunch break
This is what you would do if you were working at the office, so why not do this at home as well. This will fight the tendency to take time off during the working day and blur the boundary between work and personal life.
- Avoid family, friends & pets while working
If you have your spouse, children and or pets at home during working hours, it can be very difficult to avoid getting distracted. It’s important for them to understand that you can’t be interrupted while at work (unless there’s an emergency of course). On the flip side, you must be 100% present for them when you aren’t working – put your business phone away!
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