At the beginning of 2020, it was hard to believe that COVID-19 could affect almost every aspect of our lives. As the pandemic spreads globally, many businesses have to adapt their business to new restrictions and limitations, requiring tremendous flexibility levels. It’s predicted that around 25 - 30% of the US workforce will work from home for several days a week by the end of 2021.
The chances are that at some point, you’re going to experience working from home. On paper, it sounds like a dream. Who wouldn’t like to spend more time at home, with loving ones, while avoiding tedious commuting? In practice, that’s a different story, and it requires the right approach and preparation to have a productive and creative working environment.
Let’s find out handy tips that professionals who work from home implement in their routines that allow them to achieve higher productivity, satisfaction, and happiness.
1. Create a dedicated workspace
Since we have limited resources, not everyone has the luxury to set a dedicated home office. It’s hard to stay focused during prolonged periods in a space filled with distractions. For instance, having an office next to your bed might not be the best idea as it can distract you from tasks each time you feel a bit sleepy. It’s recommended to find a place in your apartment where you can remove distractions and put yourself into the right mindset for getting work done.
2. Set a working schedule
Working from home comes with the perks of setting your working schedule, which increases your flexibility, but it also comes with downsides. For instance, not having set working hours and a planned schedule can drown your productivity, increase your stress levels, and negatively impact your creativity. The key to forming a productive work schedule is routine.
For instance, if you feel the most energetic and creative in the morning, you’d want to use morning hours for creative or strategic tasks and move administrative tasks later in the day. Also, having a set working schedule helps you socialize, especially if you’re sharing an apartment with other people who’re working strict schedules.
If you’re transitioning to a work-from-home environment, it can be tough to understand which time works best for specific tasks. The best way to create a productive work schedule and track your productivity is by using a scheduling tool. Try it out for a week, track your productivity levels, and you’ll get a better understanding of which work schedule works best for you. The key here is to experiment since it’s impossible to give general advice as every human is different.
3. Master to-do lists
While working from home, it’s way easier to drift off from priorities or tasks at hand since no one physically controls you, and dozens of distractions surround you. Planning your days, weeks, and months is a must while working from home to keep up with deadlines and priorities.
Before starting a new workday, try to set 20 minutes to plan your day. Once you have all tasks written down, the next step is prioritization. One of the easiest working methods is Brian Tracy’s ABCDE method, where you simply mark tasks with a specific letter depending on a priority. For instance, if you have an urgent task that you can’t postpone, it’s the highest priority, and you should mark it as an ‘A task’. You can move to lower priority tasks once you’re done with your highest priority task.
Prioritizing tasks and creating to-do lists helps you boost your productivity levels and overall satisfaction and happiness, which is extremely important while working from home. Many free tools help you create nice looking to-do lists that you can share with other colleagues such as Asana or Trello.
4. Remove your distractions
Everyone who’s ever worked from home experienced drifting off from a task and suddenly finding themselves scrolling social media. Getting distracted has never been easier, considering that we’re bombed with so much new information each second. We recommend moving your phone away from your home office, communicate with your family and friends about your working hours, and block individual productivity-draining pages during your work time.
For instance, there are a couple of free apps that will boost your productivity while removing distractions, such as Cold Turkey, Forest, and News Feed Eradicator. You can set a specific time frame when you can’t access certain apps or web pages, which helps, mainly if you’ve got used to scrolling through social media while working. Also, don’t forget to keep your home office as clean as possible and remove everything that can distract you from the tasks at hand.
5. Invest in technology and ergonomic furniture
Before transitioning to the home office, you should ensure that you have the proper technology for productive and uninterrupted workflow. Since the physical meetings are limited to the bare minimum, you’d want to invest in a high-resolution camera, microphone, headphones, laptop, and of course, a stable internet. This equipment is a minimum requirement for having online meetings that are a new normal in a home working environment.
Also, since you’ll be in a sitting position most of your day, it’s not a bad idea to think about your health and invest in ergonomic furniture. Think of getting a comfortable office chair and adjustable desk so you can mix things up and have a standing office from time to time.
6. Develop a healthy morning routine
Having a healthy morning routine is by far the best way to boost your motivation and energy while indirectly preparing yourself for work tasks ahead. It doesn’t need to be anything flashy, but we recommend that you disconnect yourself from work during the morning routine. For instance, you can do quick work out, take a cold shower, walk your dog, prepare a healthy breakfast, read a book, meditate...you’ve got the idea. These activities help you create healthy habits that ultimately increase your overall productivity, motivation and keep you in the right mindset to get things done.
7. Learn how to disconnect from work
Since your work and personal life are connected to one place, it can be tough to coordinate between business and personal life. People who’re just transitioning to a work-from-home environment experience a hard time disconnecting from work. It’s crucial that you set specific work hours allocated for productive work and communicate with your co-workers that you’re not available outside these hours. Also, having hobbies that require you to move from the monitor is a plus, helping you avoid burnout.
The work-from-home environment requires thoughtful planning for the highest productivity
While working from home sounds like a dream to many, it’s essential to understand all pros and cons. Without proper preparation and planning, you’ll have a hard time transitioning, so it’s better to start planning today for a smooth and productive transition.
About the Author
Derek spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication. With a focus on Healthcare, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor cost in line and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.