Over the past few years, many people of various professions relocated from working in offices to a new location; home.
For some people, this provided a wave of relief. No more long commute times and more flexibility in arranging activities like child care.
Working from home has its advantages but for some people, it can also present a lot of challenges when it comes to staying focused and productive.
The key is to mentally stay focused and productive regardless of your new physical environment.
Here are some simple tips to boosting productivity while working from home.
1. Keep the Original Commute Time as Part of Your Morning Routine
Going into an office meant getting up earlier to get the kids ready for school, getting dressed, feeding the hamsters and experiencing the commute into the office.
While there is more flexibility in when you can start your day, don’t be tempted to start too much later especially because your commute is only “5 feet away”.
Use the time, in what would have been your commute time, for yourself. During this time, sip on your favorite morning beverage, practice gratitude and set some goals for the day, maybe even get started on the book you’ve always wanted to read. This may have already been part of your morning commute due to the availability of public transport.
Starting your day with some activities that you control as part of your routine can help reduce stress and improve focus throughout the day.
2. Get Dressed for Work.
Now that you work from home, “Casual Friday” has been replaced with everyday attire of pyjama pants and a nice top for those video calls. After all, isn’t wearing comfy, casual clothing one of the perks while working from home?
Blurring the lines between casual, home life and what should be a productive, work life can take its toll on mental health.
We’re not suggesting you take out all your old “corporate” clothing from those trash bags you swore you were going to donate 6 months ago, but we are suggesting that you wear something that would be appropriate and comfortable for an office. Some of you find pure joy in wearing blazers and ties and for others, the uniform of choice is jeans and a t-shirt.
Getting fully and appropriately dressed should be a significant part of your morning routine which helps to trigger the brain into differentiating between home activities and work activities.
3. Go into the (home) office.
An office is specifically designed for optimal performance. From the selection of specific colors that promote productivity to ensuring the supply room is fully stocked with Post-It notes and gel pens, everything is designed for productivity. Home is full of things to ensure comfort and relaxation and it’s also full of “to dos” to keep the home functioning in an orderly manner.
Dedicate a room or corner of your home space to be dedicated to work only. Create a space that you can “go into” and at the end of the day, “leave” it.
While getting dressed like you’re going to work is helpful towards mentally preparing your brain for a day of productivity, having the physical separation between work and home life is equally as important.
Your company may offer discounts or reimbursements for ergonomic office furniture or other “work from home” perks so be sure to ask!
4. Reduce Notifications
While you can’t always control when the delivery person is going to knock on your door or when the neighbor’s obnoxiously loud lawn mower starts up, you can control the various beeps and chirps coming from your phone and computer.
Just because you work from home does not mean you have to respond to everything immediately and prove you’re being productive!
These sounds are the equivalent of someone just “stopping” by your office for a “I swear this will only take 5 minutes” type of conversation. These notifications may not even require your attention, but they still rob you of your concentration & productivity which only increases task switching.
Become familiar with the various notification settings for your phone, collaboration tools and email.
During those times in your schedule where you need to focus on completing tasks including participation in meetings, turn your notifications off.
5. Connect with Colleagues Who Are Local
Working from home can be an isolating experience so by connecting with others, you can create a sense of belonging which is a basic human need even for those who self-identify as “hermits”.
Many companies are still conservative when it comes to travel for face to face collaboration, so as an alternative, find out if your company has a way to help you connect to other locals. You may already know who some of these people are but for many others, virtually means a vast geographic difference between teammates.
Does your company have a local community newsletter to help share community updates or gatherings?
Find out who those local people are and find ways to safely connect such as going to a sports event, grab a coffee and have those “water cooler” conversations.
A sense of belonging to a community is important and connecting with colleagues helps to foster loyalty to a company which enhances happiness and productivity.
Do you have a tip to share? If so, leave us a comment below!