To say that the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has caused havoc across the world is an understatement. The pandemic has brought almost all countries to a standstill with governments encouraging its citizens to exercise extreme caution through social distancing and in some cases officially shutting down the entire country in an effort to lower the rate of infections.
These safety precautions are having dire consequences on economies with many businesses being forced to suspend operations and in some cases close their doors permanently. While there are organisations and movements currently working hard to help these small businesses make it through this very difficult period, there are some industries that are fortunate enough to be able to continue operations remotely.
I’m one of the fortunate individuals who can and has the option to work from home. I remember when I first started working from home years ago, I found it very difficult with this new sense of freedom. My first few days were filled with frivolous distractions and not to mention the frequent trips to the fridge. I’m a creature of habit, so over time I developed certain habits that increased my productivity while working from home. Afterall, deadlines remain no matter how many trips to the bathroom you take during the day.
Below I’ll share some of the measures I’ve put in place to ensure that I meet my deadlines, have a productive day working from home and that the days that I do work from home still have some routine and normalcy.
1. Maintain Regular Hours
When I work from home I set a schedule that mirrors my regular working day as closely as possible. It’s so easy to get caught up in what you’re doing and completely lose track of time when you’re in a relaxed environment. Set a time for when to start and end off work and stick to it – unless you’re running behind on an urgent deadline. Then get it done! Having clear guidelines for when to start working and when to end the day helps to maintain some work-life balance. I find that it also keeps me disciplined.
2. Choose a Dedicated Work Space
Working from the comfort of my bed or snuggly perched on the couch sounds idyllic until you actually do it. My productivity shot through the roof when I moved from the couch to a dedicated work space. In an ideal world I would love to have my own study or home office, perhaps one day. But for now I’ve set up a dedicated workstation in my bedroom where I sit and work for the day. Having a place where you consistently work from helps get you in the right frame of mind.
3. Create a Morning Routine
Now that you have set your starting times and found your work space, it’s time to think about your work from home morning routine. Working from home means that I eliminate my daily commute to the office. Yay, this means more time to sleep in, right? Nope! When I work from home I try to maintain as much of my regular morning routine. This includes waking up early to journal and do my meditations, have a cup of tea (you’re welcome to have a cuppa coffee) and have a workout before showering and finally getting dressed for work. Whatever your morning, try to be consistent.
4. Set Ground Rules With the People in Your Space
During lockdown you most likely sharing space with family members, a significant other or housemates. Be sure to set clear ground rules with those you’re living with for when you work from home. They need to know what they can and can’t do during your working hours. It can be quite disruptive to your workflow when you’re constantly being disturbed or distracted by what’s happening around you.
5. Plan Out Your Agenda Ahead of Time
I find it useful to have a to-do list for the day. Ideally I create my to do list for the following day before ending off for the day so that when I start work the next day I know exactly what needs to be done. Allow room for flexibility for new or urgent tasks that arrive in your inbox during the day. Another benefit of creating a to-do list beforehand is that it takes away time wasted trying to figure out what to do.
6. Limit Your Time on Social Media
Social media can be a major distraction which hampers your productivity during the day. As someone who spends most of my time online it makes it easy for me to get sucked into a social media platform like Facebook or Instagram. To combat the urge of checking social media frequently I place my phone on the other side of my desk where it’s not within eyeshot. Furthermore I’ve disabled notifications on my phone which has helped me to pick up my phone less.
When it comes to working on my laptop I sign out of my social media accounts and only login during break times, for example during a lunch break.
Need help managing your social media accounts? Follow these five tips for social media success.
7. Match Your Music to the Task
Don’t underestimate the power of a good playlist to get you through a busy work day. I tend to match my Spotify playlist to my mood or the task I’m working on. When I’m busy with a task that requires a lot of concentration and focus I lean towards a music playlist with less lyrics that can interrupt my train of thought. On the other hand, a good pop playlist populated with the latest Top 40 hits is perfect for filing or mindless admin duties.
These are just seven of my hacks for working from home, I hope you find them as useful as I do. You may have a different process or approach to working remotely. If you have any of your own tips and tricks please share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear about your process.