DO NOT MAKE THESE MISTAKES WHEN WORKING FROM HOME (WFH)
11 FOOLPROOF TIPS TO SKYROCKET YOUR PRODUCTIVITY WHILE WORKING FROM HOME
I have been working from home for close to 5 years now (and have worked in corporate settings for several years before that) so trust me when I say that the ability to work from home is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you see it… and what you make of it…
Not ever in the history of mankind have so many people all around the globe have WORKED FROM HOME for weeks together! Truly unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic times…
While some companies mandated work from home early on (the hubs is going on week 3 now) some were being extra cautious (the right thing to do) and chose to work from home (as long as they had a choice). And very quickly working from home is what’s been expected from everyone (as long as your work can be done remotely).
I mean, did you ever think that a day would come when working from the comfort of your home in your pajamas all day, all week, all month long without ever having to make any excuses at work (or feeling guilty about doing it) would be the ideal thing to do, and the easiest way to save the world?
Nope, not in my wildest dreams…
But now, I have a feeling that this is going to be the new norm for a few weeks (if not months) to come. I am not being a pessimist in the slightest, but I am merely being practical and preparing both you and me for what lies ahead.
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So how exactly is working from home a blessing?
When you work from home you do not have to get up early, get dressed and rush out the door as you stuff your face with whatever you seem to call breakfast and then make it through the rush hour traffic and/or crowd.
No coffee/chit chat breaks. Fewer distractions from others.
All that = great flexibility + saving a ton of time!
And how is working from home a curse?
When you work from home and misuse this blessing then it can (and will) quickly turn into a curse. Take it from someone who has done it for 5 years, working from home requires an insurmountable amount of self-discipline and focus.
If you let that slide then you will be drowning in truckloads of pending work and your days, nights, weekends will all begin to look the same.
Add to it very little face-to-face human interaction and working from home gets old really quickly.
Whether you are a newbie to this whole WFH situation or you have ‘been there doing that’ for years like me, these below tried and tested working from home tips will not only increase your productivity but will also help you stay sane without losing your marbles (I mean, the best you can given the current uncertain circumstances).
Tips for parents working from home with kids at home is coming next, because sista (or brotah), that’s a whole different territory to tackle, but the below are the basic rules of effectively and productively working from home…
P.S. If you are not a parent and you are getting all of this quarantine time to yourself then you can seriously get some amazing s*** done (outside of working) because you have so much free time. The downside could be that it will get really boring real quick without kids around you. Totally depends on what you make of this time you have been given, so be wise 😉
11 FOOLPROOF TIPS TO BE PRODUCTIVE WHILE WORKING FROM HOME
1. CREATE A SCHEDULE & STICK TO IT
I cannot stress enough how important creating a set schedule and sticking to it is!!! In two words, this will be a real ‘deal breaker’. If you are not diligent enough to maintain a schedule then things can (and will) quickly spiral out of control.
What time will you begin work? When will you eat? When will you workout? What time will you log out of work and call it a day? What are the most important things you need to get done for the day? Etc, etc.
If you fail to do this then you will find yourself ‘always working’ and you will find yourself ‘always being unproductive’ (if you know you know).
Once you create your schedule, each evening/night make a TO-DO list, and a NOT TO-DO list (just as important) for the following day and get cracking on that list as you begin your workday the next day. Read 4 game-changing steps to help you succeed.
2. MAINTAIN A SENSIBLE ROUTINE
Now or ever, always treat your routine with the utmost respect! Your routine (aka daily habits and rituals), single-handedly speaks volumes about you and your success.
Create a routine that will help you succeed and maintain it even at times like this, especially at times like this. Get enough sleep and wake up at a decent time and not right before you need to log into work or jump on a work call. Go through the motions of the day just like you would if you were to physically get to work.
And if you do not have a well-balanced daily routine then now is the perfect time to make one!
3. GET READY FOR THE DAY
PJs are for lounging, I repeat, pajamas are for lounging, and do not make those your work from home attire.
As tempting as it is to stay in your pajamas all day long (and argue all you want about it), there is something about getting dressed in the morning that sets the right tone for the day. How you dress, knowingly or unknowingly translates into how you approach your work. So get ‘ready’ (both literally and figuratively) for the workday!
But if you want to take full advantage of working from home, then at least buy some new loungewear that you will only wear to your ‘home office’, not to chill, and most definitely not to bed.
And if you want to go the extra mile, then do your makeup too.
4. DEDICATED WORKSPACE
Don’t even think about working from the comfort of your couch, or worse, your bed, period! No ifs and buts about it (unless you are medically required to).
Working from your couch or bed might be ok for a day or two (I cringe even as I say this), but it will only hamper your productivity in the long run. And not to forget, it will kill your back, and it will ruin your health!
Even if you do not have any extra space in your home to make it your ‘home office’, dedicate a well-lit section in your home exclusively to work from. Convert that space into your temporary home office (even if it is your dining table or set up a table in your bedroom) and do not use it for any other purposes but work.
Bonus: Keep things that inspire and motivate you at your desk.
Plus, your body language (lying down on the couch or bed) and your attitude towards work when you are working from the couch vs when you are sitting at a dedicated space do have an impact on your productivity. Test it out for yourself if you don’t trust me!
Bed = to be lazy (lethargic). Couch = for relaxing. Neither are for working! You need to bring your ‘work energy’ even when you are working from home!
5. OVER COMMUNICATE
Working from home means it is easy for others on your team to assume that you might not be giving your 100% and/or being productive.
So make sure that your team and manager know what some of the important tasks you are tackling on the daily are. Time to pull out that to-do list and show off (I don’t mean to say send them your to-do list, but use that to summarize your work).
Send out quick status reports or hop on a quick informal call to discuss progress. This way you will also maintain that open communication channel and also not feel too alone WFH.
Granted, this is an unusual situation and everyone at your work is in the same boat. So it is the perfect time to set yourself apart by going the extra mile (and earn some brownie points while you are at it).
6. CREATE REALISTIC DEADLINES & SET BOUNDARIES
Oh I am working from home and I will have all this extra time, so I can complete this project sooner, or I can take on more responsibilities and do more, right? Nope, WRONG!
I can see why you would think that, but remember that this is a new norm for you and it will take some time to get adjusted to the new reality. So do not be too quick to move up your deadlines. If anything, working from home will initially require more time for you to complete a certain task.
So, create realistic expectations and deadlines, both for yourself and the team. And do not make it a habit to work way past your normal work hours just to meet the deadlines.
Set clear boundaries; when will you log in to work and when will you log out of work? Try and stick to it as much as possible and do not work beyond those hours.
You need time to unwind and feel like tomorrow is a new day instead of feeling like the entire week is one-really-long-work-day. Or this work from home arrangement will not be sustainable.
7. AVOID ALL DISTRACTIONS
Treat your workday like a ‘workday’ and do not be tempted to have the TV ON in the background when you are working.
It also applies to other distractions such as spending unreasonable amounts of time on social media, playing video games, watching YouTube videos, etc. Ask yourself, would you be doing this if your manager was watching you?
If the answer is a BIG NO, then TURN IT OFF! You will have all the time in the world for it later, i.e. if you are diligent in completing your work on time. Or you will fall prey to #6 above.
8. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS & STRETCH
You are too focused, the task at hand is too important, so you forget that you have been sitting at your desk for 5 hrs straight, and not once taking a break.
I am super guilty of doing this and even after all these years of working from home, I have to make a conscious effort once in a while to break this pattern.
Know that you can function at your full capacity only for so long, after that time your productivity goes down. So include break times into your daily schedule and set reminders to take those breaks. During your break time, you can check social media or catch up on the news if you want but be cautious of how much time you spend (do not exceed your break times) and don’t go down the rabbit hole.
Sitting in one place for too long is also not good for your body. It is important to get up and stretch from time to time. When you take breaks get up and walk around the house for a few minutes. Your body will feel better, and your mind will focus better.
9. SCHEDULE REGULAR VIDEO CALLS/MEETINGS
Working from home for long can make you feel really isolated from the outside world (could not be more true given our current situation). To maintain that human interaction and connection schedule video calls with your co-workers and check-in on them.
When you schedule meetings with a group of people set them up as video calls instead of just audio. This way you will not only see each other and feel more connected, but everyone will be more ‘present’ during the meetings and not be distracted. This means you have everyone’s full attention = less time spent attending meetings.
10. NO PERSONAL WORK
You have to be really disciplined to say that you will not tend to any house chores or personal work during your work from home hours.
Or this is where the lines between your work life and personal life begin to blur. Once you get in the habit of tending to personal work during work hours then it will be tough to break out of that habit.
This is also a big time suck because you are now trying to multitask without giving either of the tasks at hand your full attention.
So work during work hours and tend to personal chores once you log out.
11. OTHER THINGS TO BOOST YOUR PRODUCTIVITY WHILE WORKING FROM HOME
SLEEP – We all know that a good night’s sleep is extremely important but given the newfound freedom you have with your time, do not stay up late binge-watching your favorite show only to regret it in the morning. I repeat (and stress), stick to your weekly ‘work week routine and schedule’ even w.r.t sleep.
MEAL PLAN – Do not go to your kitchen and stare at your fridge wondering what to make/what to eat when it is lunchtime. Pre-plan your meals either during the weekend or the night before. Find all the meal planning tips here.
WORKOUT – I do not want to be the 10803619 person telling you this. Plus, you already know that it is super important to sweat to stay healthy and improve your immunity, especially now. There are plenty of home workouts to help you with this. So you have no excuse not to workout.
HEALTHY EATING – Your pantry which is just a few steps away is fully stocked with snacks (and junk food?). But please do not build a habit of mindlessly munching on snacks throughout the day. Maintain a healthy diet and eat a balanced meal (with whatever grocery you are able to find in stores these days).
WATER – It’s a no brainer. Drink plenty of water. This will also ensure that you take regular breaks and stretch 😉
SELF-CARE – Again, self-care is of utmost importance now more than ever. So important that I wrote an entire blog post on how to nourish your mind, body, and soul. So please read and practice self-care.
AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE – The sooner you accept that this is the reality and are grateful for the ability to work from home (and stop complaining about it) the more you will enjoy the process of WFH. My heart truly goes out to everyone who still has to physically go to work so the rest of us are taken care of and safe. So let’s count our blessings!
EMBRACE THE CHANGE – Accept the reality and see how you can make the most of this unreal situation and opportunity. Yes, it is an opportunity, it is up to you what you will make of it! Focus on the things that are in your control!!
Lastly, remember that it will take time to find your work from home personality and rhythm, until then experiment to see what works best for you. Also, nothing is set in stone, there is always that one off time when we all need to make exceptions and that is A-OK!
Cut yourself some slack and give yourself plenty of grace, this is a new norm for almost all of us and it is ok if you are unable to get everything done on time.
I sincerely hope these work from home tips and suggestions help you ease into the process of working from home. Things will get better, hang in there peeps.
“Starve your distractions. Feed your focus.”