Now more than ever before, employers are asking their staff to work from home. While at first glance there’s nothing better than smart working, we also know there are many pitfalls when it comes to working out of a home office. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best ways to maximize your productivity at home while avoiding distractions, or worse, burnout.
1. Set up a real office
While the temptation to work from the comfort of your bed is real, it’s imperative that you have a designated office space from which to work. If you’re lucky and already have a home office, great! If not, make sure you can carve out a relatively quiet and distraction-free place to get down to business. Having an ‘office’ set aside for your work can help establish a clear line between your work and your personal life. The office is for working, the bedroom is for napping, the living room is for watching reruns of The Office, etc. While you may not be going into a physical office, having a designated workspace is key.
Pro Tip: If your kids are home right now and you’re struggling to focus with the noise, investing in a pair of earplugs or noise-canceling headphones can help you lock in on the task at hand.
2. Get ready for the day
With no commuting, no office dress code and the fact that your new ‘office manager’ is actually just your cat, it’s hard to resist rolling out of bed at 7:55 when you need to be available for work at 8:00. However, waking up early to move around and go through the motions to get your day started can make a world of difference when it comes to productivity. One of the most often skipped steps is changing into ‘work’ clothes for the day. By making sure that at least the top half of your outfit is appropriate for videoconferencing, your coworkers (and boss) will know that you still mean business even if you’re at home. Even if you’re just swapping out your sleeping pajamas and putting on your cozy day clothes, make sure you’re starting the day off on the right foot.
Pro Tip: Definitely make sure you’re wearing pants. If you have to get up to grab an expense report across the room halfway through a meeting, you don’t want to have to do the awkward half-shuffle slide out of frame.
3. Maintain a schedule
One of the downsides of smart working is the constant blurring of the line between work and home life. That is why it is critical to maintain a normal work schedule, even if your commute is just to your home office. Be sure to take your lunch break around the same time you would if you were in the office, and when things are done at the end of the day shut your computer off to focus on your family time. While the pull of your email can seem tempting at all hours now that your office is in your home, creating distinct times for work and your personal life can help keep you from getting burnt out.
Pro Tip: Take your full lunch hour. Seriously.
4. Find a new way to commute
Now that we’ve all been spared sitting in traffic for an hour home from the office, it’s time to think of your commute in a new way. By making a point of leaving your house at least once or twice a day, you’ll avoid the cabin fever that’s bound to set in after a few weeks of self-isolation. When you take a stroll around the block or do some yoga in the back yard, it gives your brain a chance to shift gears so that you’re not constantly stuck in work mode. The fresh air will do you good.
Pro Tip: According to one study, enjoying the great outdoors can help you get rid of fatigue and people’s mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature.