As the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a global health crisis, businesses across the world have been temporarily closing offices, prohibiting non-essential travel, and adopting work-from-home policies. Many situations such as disease outbreaks and natural disasters can disrupt people’s lives, mobility, and ability to get things done. With a remote access solution on hand for businesses, those working from home will be able to accomplish their tasks and collaborate with their teammates.
But how can you effectively deliver results if it is your first time to work away from the office? Here are optimal practices you can adopt to stay focused on the job and mentally healthy while working from home:
Establish Your Space
Setting up your personal workspace at home is crucial, especially if you share the house with a spouse, your children, or your siblings. Ideally, it should be in a quiet area with some privacy. A spare room can help reduce noise and avoid distractions from other people if you will be on the phone frequently. You might also need a dedicated space for your design or tech equipment, one that is separate from the rest of your other stuff. Place a filing cabinet beside your desk where you can store confidential files. If you have children or younger siblings, keeping important things within their reach could be a problem. Make sure to also keep your workstation clean and sanitized every now and then, if at all possible, twice a day.
Start Early and Track Everything
Research says that if you get up early, you will be more creative and efficient throughout the day. However, it is important to understand how your body clock works as it will help you find your most productive times, lowest energy dips during the day, and best hours for sleeping. If you are a morning person, you should set aside your morning hours for focused, uninterrupted work time. Furthermore, tracking time will also encourage you to break down your workday effectively, from the most important tasks to those you can accomplish later on. People working remotely are more likely to overwork than those in the office. By tracking time, you will be able to maintain regular work hours. Although you are working from home, there still comes a time when you have to call it a day and spend some time with your loved ones.
Pretend You Are Actually Going into the Office
Structure is important in adjusting to a new work environment. Beyond the essential tools required to accomplish your tasks, experts say that the most effective way to stay productive is to replicate your office environment at home. While it is necessary to create a sense of structure and social stimulation like that of your office environment, it is worth noting that you cannot entirely replicate your work model in the office. What could make you more efficient is preparing for work as if you are coming into the office. Set your alarm, drink your morning coffee, and wear nice clothes, even when you are just at home. That mindset can boost your productivity and help you create a positive outlook when working.
Prepare and Update Your To-Do List
It can be challenging to keep track of what you have to finish throughout your workday especially when you are working from the comfort of your home. It is easy to overlook tasks, priorities, and deadlines. When you create a to-do list, make sure you stick to it. After you complete a certain task, cross it off the list. Not only is this simple technique effective, it is also fulfilling as it helps you build momentum to power through the rest of the day. Get into the habit of using a planner to keep track of deadlines and meetings. In fact, there are different task management tools such as Zoho Projects and Trello that make working from home a cakewalk. By organizing your tasks, you can accomplish them one at a time and with a dedicated focus.
Apply the Pomodoro Technique
How the Pomodoro Technique works is surprisingly simple. Just list down a set of tasks and set a timer for 25 minutes per item. At the end of every 25 minutes, you take a quick break. Five to ten minutes should do. Once you have completed four of these blocks, or “pomodoros,” that is when you take a longer break. Somewhere around 20 minutes to a half hour works well. Repeat these series of 25-minute blocks throughout your workday, with short periods of time to eat or grab a snack. As the timer instills a sense of urgency, you will not feel like you have endless time to get things done, thus avoiding wasting precious hours on distractions. Because you know you only have 25 minutes, you strive to make as much progress on a task as possible.
Set Timeframes for Social Media Use
Unless your line of work highly involves social media, checking your accounts from time to time can be detrimental to the quality of your output. If you are not careful, you can easily get lost in your screen—tapping from app to app and scrolling through social feeds for a good two hours. The most sensible thing to do is to close your social media apps and limit checking to just twice during your entire working schedule. Many mobile apps now reveal to users how much time they spend in each app. The result is eye-opening, especially for casual social media users. Avoid mindless use of social media and you would be surprised how much you can accomplish. It would also be best to have a dedicated spot where you can store your smartphone, tablet, and other gadgets, at least for a while until you reach your targets for the day.
Eat Healthy Food
You do not want to overdo it with snacking, but you also do not want to starve yourself. Once you hit the ground running, it can be difficult to take a break just to grab something to eat. Nevertheless, it is necessary that you know your hunger signs and understand that not eating can affect your productivity and alertness. What you eat will impact your mood and energy level. It is also worth mentioning that balanced, nutritious food keeps us fuller longer and helps us concentrate better. Focus on protein, fiber, healthy fats, fruits, and veggies. Preparing your meals ahead of time, just like you would on days you go to the office, will make it easier to avoid noshing on whatever looks tastiest in the moment.
Working from home is full of temptation in the form of countless distractions. You have to fight off the effects of sitting too long in front of your laptop and wake up your brain if you are feeling a bit sluggish. Remote working is a double-edge sword—you get to work on your tasks comfortably, but it can be harder to maintain focus. While no boss or colleague is physically watching your every move while you are working, you have to do your part, perform at your best, and deliver awesome results at the end of the day. After all, not everyone has the luxury of staying home and making a living at the same time.