15 Tips for Working From Home in this Lockdown
Many working individuals are in the same “work from home” boat right now. For many of you, this is a luxury you sometimes had before and it was almost always enjoyable. But now, due to the pandemic forcing all of us to stay in our homes, this has become the new norm. People all around the globe are working remotely and many for the first time.
Working from home is awesome until it’s not. There are too many distractions and not enough obligations tying you to your home office or desk. You’re more prone to procrastination with the flexible hours and the kitchen so close. The lines between your personal and work life get blurred. But going to the office had its downsides too - chatty coworkers, long lunch breaks, boss micromanaging, etc.
You can make the most of your workday at home by focusing and getting things done. Here are some tips for working from home to make sure you have the best experience.
When you needed to get to the office before, you would have to wake up early anyway and it’s good to stick to the office hours. You also had the transition from sleep to work mode during the morning commute. Working from home can be more jarring in this sense.
The best way to get going is to dive headfirst into a project. Once you start your work it should be easy to continue making progress. Having a fixed morning routine like making a cup of coffee and doing some exercise before sitting down to work can also help you transition into it.
If you’re someone who does their best work in the morning then you can start the day even earlier. This will leave you plenty of time in the evening for yourself with an added bonus of the contentment of wrapping up your work early.
It is much easier to compartmentalize when you actually have to go to the office, which makes you more productive. But you can create an environment that is differentiated from your personal space and deem it your workspace. This could just be a desk with your desktop and keyboard hooked up, or an entire room. Make sure it’s separate from your leisure spots like the couch or your bed.
(Here are some tips on how to set up your work desk - https://bit.ly/3bMzi6T)
You should also go through the motions as you would before leaving for the office to make the difference even more clear: Wake up early via alarm, have coffee, and even get dressed. Changing out of the pajamas will help you avoid crawling back into bed.
To compartmentalize further, you can create separate accounts on browsers like Google Chrome for work and home. You can also maintain a separate work phone number to help manage your work-life balance.
You might be sharing a home with someone, whether it’s your parents, your spouse, your roommates, etc. It is essential to communicate with them about respecting your space while you’re working. You should set clear boundaries with the people about what they can do or say during that time. You can specify a signal, like sitting at your desk with headphones on, to make it clear to others that you’re working and not to be disturbed. Even though you are home, you are still working.
With no one around to direct you or to manage your workflow, you can quickly lose focus and burn out. This can also mess up your day’s structure and timings. Try to create a schedule and stick to it. Segment your work - what you will do and when you will do it. This will keep you productive and focused.
Scheduling your day beforehand will also save time later. Your agenda can be flexible but it will help you stay on track. Even if it’s a personal commitment, it can feel official and keep the pressure on you to complete it.
Breaks are very important too. You can use your previous office schedule if you like, and take breaks at the same time. Make sure to get up and walk around, maybe grab something to eat or have a chat with someone.
Utilize the breaks in their entirety. This will help revitalize you and keep you from burning out. Don’t let the guilt of working from the comfort of your home pressure you into skipping breaks.
It is super easy to open social media to check a stray notification and then keep scrolling for a while. It can make you lose your focus and your time. The convenience of social media is something that is very inconvenient while working from home.
To make it less tempting, you can remove all shortcuts to your accounts from your browsers. To make it even less convenient you can log out of every account from your device. There are multiple apps and extensions you can download which will block all the social media sites while you’re working.
Checkout: BlockSite for Chrome.
It’s like the saying - Aim for the moon; if you miss, you will still be among the stars. If you commit to doing a lot of tasks, overestimating how much you can really do, you will still end up with a lot of complete tasks at the end of the day. But do not beat yourself up if you couldn’t get to some of those tasks.
A long list of things to do will also help keep you focused on your work and leave less time for distractions.
It is not possible to have the same energy and motivation to work throughout the day. You will have times when you’re not in the headspace for a heavy load of work. Therefore, you can keep that in mind while creating your work schedule. Plan to finish bulky tasks when you know you’ll be at your most productive. A flexible agenda will also help navigate any sudden mood changes.
When you’re feeling low and not that energetic, work on the small things and complete those. These small successes will give you the momentum and motivation you need for the rest of the workload.
Mornings can feel sluggish sometimes. Many of us are groggy and not in the correct headspace to interact with others properly. Work from home gives you the advantage of choosing not to do exactly that. You can plan any calls or meetings you have later in the day when you’re feeling more productive and “awake”.
You can use the mornings to do small tasks that don’t require anyone else’s input or help. Also, take the time to finish all the meaty projects without any distractions before you have to take any calls.
Working from home can become very lonely, in the long run. It might affect your work and your personal life to feel so disconnected from everyone. To fix this you will have to be proactive about nurturing relationships and reaching out to colleagues. You can use instant messaging and videoconferencing tools to help you feel connected with your coworkers.
You should also chat with other people around you or reach out via technology. Everyone needs relationships and human interaction to feel normal and sane, and you should keep doing that as well.
It sounds crazy, but the busier you are, the more you will be able to achieve. Once you start working on things and build up momentum, it will keep on going throughout the day. Don’t stop and break the momentum you have created for yourself, or you’ll come to a complete stop after that. Try to think of it as Newton’s law of inertia: Things at rest tend to stay at rest, and things in motion tend to stay in motion until acted on by an external force (a distraction!).
To keep the work flowing, try to keep busy. You can find some distraction which also keeps you in motion, like taking care of a baby. If you fall for any other distractions like household chores or social media, it’ll be hard to get back into the motions of work. When you’re constantly busy, you will learn how to manage your time very efficiently.
As long as the music isn’t too distracting or overpowering, a soundtrack can be a good thing. Your music can push you to work more if it’s fast-paced and motivational. You can choose music to match the mood and energy for the work you’re doing. Instrumental music or even video game soundtracks can be great for this purpose. They are lyric-free and will help you focus.
You can also, depending on your work, keep the TV playing in the background. Not a distracting sitcom but something like Animal Planet or the History Channel. Find out what works best for you and stick to that. You can change the channel or the soundtrack whenever you want to motivate you correctly.
Laundry is a chore that can act as the perfect self-timer for your work. You can plan your tasks around it. Plan to start and finish something off your checklist during one cycle of the washing load. Use the dryer’s cycle as well to complete another thing. These mini-deadlines will help you work more efficiently.
Remember that even if you’re working from home you don’t have the time to prepare fancy, elaborate meals now. The work hours are still set for you to be productive and continue working. So, prepare your meals beforehand like the night before. This way you don’t have to spend too much time away from your desk and break your momentum. You also won’t be wasting your energy doing less important things.
If it helps, pretend you’re still going to the office and don’t have time on your hands to make the meals right then. Keep them prepped and ready to eat like you would have when you actually had to go to the office.
Work from home can blur a lot of lines and it can cause you to lose track of time. You might not stop working until too late, or you might push yourself to finish a task well into the night and burn out. This will also mess up your schedule for the next day. Try to set a definitive ending time for work by setting an alarm or other habits that can signal the end of the day.
Since you don’t have coworkers around you leaving the office, you don’t necessarily notice the closing time. Your alarm can help you with that. You can start shutting down your work after that. Knowing that the workday is over can help maintain some boundaries between your work and personal life, which is very important for both.
Take time to find out what works best for you and stick to that. Creating routines and boundaries is super important to have a productive work-from-home experience. And let us know what are the work from home tips you follow. Comment below!