The pandemic, Covid-19 has caused the biggest ever change to the workplace and how we work. Before all of this, it was estimated that only 7% of America’s workforce had the flexibility to be at home, now this applies to nearly everyone who is not a key worker.
Working from home is a big change. Whether you have children or not, your home is full of distractions and it takes great motivation to get things done, so here are our tips to keep you productive:
Set your alarm for the normal time and stick to a routine
On weekdays it is important to try and stay in a routine, not only for your work life but to combat things like anxiety which a lot of people are dealing with. Studies say that if you leave your phone alone and get out of bed within a few minutes of waking up you are on the right track to a productive day. You may not need to be as smart as you normally would at work, but getting ready and getting dressed, making a coffee and eating a healthy breakfast are all positive ways of getting your day started.
Make a daily and weekly plan
When working from home, you are your own personal manager. To make sure you stay on schedule segment what you need to do and when you need to do it over the day / week. Use Outlook or Google Calendar can help you stay on top of things. Even the old-fashioned way of a list that you can tick off will help you to focus.
Work in a clear, light and airy space
This could be easier said than done depending on your living situation so it may require you to have a bit of a move around. Important things to remember for your work space are:
- It is important to have a “work area” somewhere you only associate with work – try not to use a leisure space such as the lounge or bedroom
- Have your desk in a space with lots of natural light
- Ensure you are comfortable - The NHS advice is that you should adjust your chair so you can use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor
- Make sure you have the correct power outlets and chargers for all of your devices within a distance that is easy to reach, and you don’t need to keep getting up to look for things
- Try to keep your desk tidy and organised
- Invest in some noise cancelling headphones if noise distracts you
- If you work better in a noisy environment, you can even download apps that play the sounds of traffic / trains / chatter in coffee shops!
Have meetings with clients and colleagues
Just because everyone is at home that doesn’t mean that meetings have to stop. With Skype, Microsoft Teams and other video conference apps, meetings can be scheduled with colleagues all over the world. Scheduling a week’s worth of meetings also is great for helping you to be productive.
Saying this, it is also important not to over do it while working from home - "Many people tend to over communicate when working from home - either wanting to 'be seen or overcompensating to ensure people know what they are up to. That's fine - but don't go over the top. You know if you're on task and being productive - keep yourself in check." (Ross Robinson)
Stick to timings
It’s impossible to keep your day exactly the same, but where you can, try to stick to timings like you would in the office. The home is full of distractions but if you compartmentalise your day it can really help with productivity. You wouldn’t spend 8 hours chained to your desk, so get up, make coffee, go for your daily exercise at lunch time – getting fresh air and exercise increases brain activity and gives you thinking space for creativity.
Many home workers recommend the Pomodoro Technique, a method of time management which breaks your working day into 25-minute chunks. Each chunk is followed by a five-minute break.
Making sure you finish on time is important. Once you have finished work get away from your computer and limit screen time to relax and switch off.
…and finally, try not to give yourself a hard time and have added stress. What we are experiencing at the moment has never been experienced before and life is bound to change.
Anxiety rates are high and it is important to look after yourself as well as being productive at work.