How to work from home: top tips to optimize your productivity
The pandemic forced so many of us to start working from home almost overnight. We all had to reach the same productivity levels whilst grappling with the switch. Even when some of our home working systems were not up and running yet, we had to churn out work and interact with employees to get our work done.
However, a year into the COVID-19 world, many of us have learnt to adapt in a number of ways to optimise our working from home office hours. Here, we outline some of the top tips to ensure that you are leveraging all the benefits that working from home can provide, while ensuring our output is not affected in any way. Plus, we suggest ways on how to work from home with kids. Doing so is hard, but it is not impossible.
How can I work from home?
- Structure your day
Working from home can often mean that you do not always have the structure that a day in the office provides. People often do better with routine, so it can be highly beneficial to structure your day. A routine does not have to be working 9-5 with an hour’s break at 1230 for lunch. Instead, working from home can mean starting work far earlier and having a longer break at some point during the day. You can use that break to go for a run or do something that gives your brain enough time to rest.
- Get ready in the morning
It may not be for everyone, but actually getting dressed to start your working day can be mentally very helpful. At the start of lockdown restrictions, many joked about having pajamas on their bottom half, whilst looking office ready on top for video calls and team meetings. However, being dressed the part can really help with motivation.
- Take breaks
Hopefully, as part of your day, you have structured or timetabled some breaks. Make sure you take such breaks - and to their entirety. Therefore, if you have allotted yourself a twenty minute break, give yourself the full twenty minutes. Do not short change yourself. You can actually be doing more harm than good as your brain will not be as rested and therefore far less capable. It can also be highly effective to have a total digital detox at some point during your day. Spending more and more time in front of screens can mean we find it very difficult to switch off entirely. Closing down your computer and putting your smartphone away for an hour a day, if not more, can help boost your productivity overall.
When you work from home it can be very difficult to delineate your time off from your time on. Getting a work life balance right is therefore tricky. Exercise can help with that. Taking time out of your day to ensure you get your body working is key. Not only do you get a big boost of feel good endorphins, exercise helps you clear your brain of work stresses. Plus looking after your body can also mean you stay on top of your game mentally.
- Collaboration tools
No water cooler chats and other benefits from being in an office have been touted as the big losses of working from home during the pandemic. However, productivity has been helped in a number of other ways - especially when companies and its teams use collaborative apps that promote effective teamwork. Software from Contractbook or Trello or Slack, can streamline processes through automation and allow team members to see the status of any project in which they are involved.
- Set working environment
Finally, many people find it helpful to have an allotted space to work. When working from home it can be very easy to let work infiltrate every corner of where you live, making it difficult to relax and switch off at any point. Thus, set yourself up with a proper working environment and desk. If you can, put a door between your working space and the rest of your home.
- Socialise with colleagues
One thing that is missing from the work from home environment is the ability to have off the cuff, informal chats with colleagues. Or the so-called ‘water cooler chats’. Try to reintroduce that to your working day by actively setting aside time for one to one calls or just a meaningless bit of chitchat before or after a meeting. Ask how people are via the random channel on Slack or otherwise. All in all, try to keep yours and your colleagues’ morale high by making work fun - however remote.
How to work from home with kids
Working from home with kids running around is a whole other ball game. Here are our top tips on how to survive:
- Go easy on yourself
COVID19 restrictions have been tough on everyone. Many individuals used the lockdowns as a motivator to write a book, learn a language or run a marathon. In reality, those with children who are at home during the working day simply will not have the time. It is key not to beat yourself up about that. If all you do is feed your children, get your work done and keep everyone alive that day - that is a result. Go easy on yourself and the targets you set.
- Accept screen time
There is an almost a knee-jerk reaction amongst parents that kids’ screen time should be kept to an absolute minimum at all times. In times where you have to work from home, COVID or no COVID, accept that their screen time will increase. Also, accept that that is not always a bad thing. There are numerous apps these days that are great for educating children and there are many TV shows that impart knowledge to kids so that they are still learning - even if they are not in a classroom or running around outside.
- Get outside
There is something about going outside that is soothing to children, as well as adults. Being outside can help people’s mental health so getting your entire family outside, whatever the weather, for at least half an hour a day can materially improve everyone’s mood. Doing so is vital to ensure that you are able to work at some point during the day without having to break up fights between squabbling children or play with your kids when they are bored from being inside all day.
Working from home - key takeaways
Working from home does create some issues. Mainly, they come from not knowing how to switch off from your job, given that your job is now in your home, or worse your bedroom. Those issues, such as the impact on productivity, can be easily overcome however with a few minor changes and leveraging software to optimum effect.
Ensure that you use technology to its full potential to gain all possible advantages and make sure you take time out for you. Doing so is even more important if you have children at home too. Doing everything - work, childcare, schooling - can be incredibly overwhelming in the same four walls. Taking care of your mental health as a result can be extremely beneficial to all involved.