A dog barking in the middle of your meeting? A sloppy internet connection? Extended working hours? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Many employees around the globe experience the same challenges in the “Work from Home” setup brought about by the ongoing pandemic.
With the threat of the virus still at bay, many companies have shifted to working remotely as an alternative setup to keep employees safe and protected. While this may sound ideal to many– no traffic, no commute, and no face-to-face interactions—this arrangement under the new normal requires a greater amount of focus and attention. Distractions come knocking at your door in many forms and sizes. At times it can be the tempting vibes of your bedroom or sometimes it can be a Netflix show calling you for another episode. Not to mention other hurdles that arise like a slow internet connection, background noises in your online meeting, or a laptop malfunction.
The line between personal time and work time has become thin and almost blurry causing a potential risk of burnout or fatigue in the long run. The key to having a productive work from home experience is by setting the right boundaries and working smart. Drawing a line between office and home matters is important to help manage your time wisely. Staying inspired and motivated at work is part of keeping healthy, both physically and mentally.
In the list below, we have gathered some of the most practical tips and tricks to keep you productive in the “Work from Home” arrangement. This guide is also tailored to be home-friendly, so whether you are staying in a house or a condo, following these tips can be easy.
Top 10 tips to keep you productive during your WFH setup
Stay on top of your work by following this list based on the tips recommended by the Harvard Business Review, Time Magazine, and other related online journals.
Have a workstation
Create a dedicated workspace at home where you can set up your laptop and meeting equipment. Find a spot that is free from noise and distraction. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy, just a space where you can comfortably work and focus. If you’re staying in a room or in your condo, having a window view would be ideal as it helps spark creativity and inspiration. Having a space that somehow resembles an office also helps you stay focused and productive. This means staying out of bed or off the couch.
Tip: If you’re having an online meeting, keeping a door sign that says “ongoing meeting” or “in a call” will help minimize distractions.
Connect with a work buddy
The absence of social interaction contributes to the feeling of loneliness and isolation during this pandemic. In the new Work from Home setup, we no longer see or talk to our colleagues regularly unlike before when you interact single every day. Connecting to your colleagues or your work buddies at least a few times a week can help in your mental health. Talking to someone who goes through the same experience as you can help unload your thoughts and feelings. There are tons of ways to stay connected with your friends online. Give them a call, a text, an email, or a chat to ask how they’re doing. Reaching out will be beneficial for both of you. A little word of encouragement or support can mean a lot to someone especially during this challenging time of the pandemic.
Tip: Missing your work squad? Organize online activities or get-togethers to keep everyone updated. Virtual group games on a Friday night are a fun alternative to your pre-pandemic after office hangouts.
Set a work plan or a routine
Having a work plan or a work strategy can help do wonders in accomplishing your daily tasks. Whether you do it the night before or early morning, setting your priorities for the day will help manage your time better. Plan how long it takes to finish each task and which of them should come first. This way, you can estimate how quickly you can finish your work and start other chores. A daily work routine can make working alone easier and more productive.
Tip: Create a schedule or a to-do list that is visible to you to remind you of your work goals in a day.
Just because it’s the pandemic doesn’t mean we can no longer have team activities or hangouts. We can, but virtually. Collaboration is still possible with the use of online platforms like Zoom or Teams. Using these apps can help boost teamwork. Maximize the use of these online platforms not just for presentations or discussions but also for fun get-togethers with your colleagues. Organize a Zoom pizza party or a Teams game night to foster good working relationships amidst working separately. Virtual activities such as these can help the team stay intact and motivated.
Tip: Schedule a regular virtual activity no matter how small they are just to check how everyone is doing.
Separate work time and personal time
Perhaps the biggest challenge of the Work from Home setup is separating your working time from your personal time. Learn to compartmentalize your time so as not to keep overlapping the two. Although it is sometimes inevitable, setting boundaries between them is highly crucial to avoid the risk of burnout. Overworking or exceeding your regular working hours can lead to overfatigue. With all the challenges we face at home, setting a pace that works for you and your employer can help you work more productively.
Tip: Work smartly by sticking to your own schedule. Try to squeeze in all your work in your designated working hours. Sending emails beyond office hours can be tempting but the person receiving it may feel obliged to send a response.
Take regular breaks
Breaks are essential in one’s working routine. Including breaks in your schedule is one way to boost your productivity. Taking short breaks can be in the form of getting up from your desk, having a cup of coffee, grabbing a snack, squeezing in a workout, or even taking a short walk. Remove your attention from the screen for a while and take the time to go and get some fresh air.
Tip: You can set a timer or an alarm for your break if it will help you stick better to your own schedule.
Be presentable with your outfit
Similar to your pre-covid routine every morning, it is necessary to prepare and get dressed for the day. Taking a shower and dressing up (a nice comfy wear will do) can help signal the brain that it is time for work. You don’t have to wear the same work outfit before, but keeping yourself presentable for an online meeting is required especially when the cameras are on. Wearing pajamas or sweatpants may be ideal at home but can make you feel sluggish to work. You can also use wear makeup or try a new outfit if that will help you stay motivated.
Tip: Now is the best time to explore fashion trends you’ve always wanted to try. The Work from Home arrangement gives you the chance to give that outfit a dry run for future use.
Clean up your workspace
Having a clean and clutter-free workspace can help you stay organized and more focused at work. Don’t forget to pick up the trash and remove the used mug at the end of each day to avoid ants and dirt buildup. Unlike in the office where you have a janitor to clean up your workspace, you should look after your own workstation at home. Schedule a regular cleaning session which includes sanitizing the surface of your gadgets.
Tip: If it helps create a more conducive working environment, you can also try adding an essential oil diffuser or air cleaner to boost your energy and inspiration.
Listen to some music
Depending on your working habits, you can try adding some music to your office background. Some people prefer working with music while others don’t. The Work from Home setup allows workers to turn up the volume unlike in the office where they mostly listen through an earphone. If it works for you, you can listen to any type of music to help you set the mood or alleviate the feeling of loneliness in working alone. Drop your favorite songs or go for a relaxing instrumental. You can also tune in to a podcast that interests you.
Tip: There are many available music streaming sites online. Go check which one works best for you.
Rewarding yourself at the end of each task is good to help you stay motivated. For example, you can tell yourself that you’ll have a cookie at the end of a meeting or you’ll have a nice dinner once you’re done with your presentation. Rewards do not necessarily mean big, expensive gifts to yourself. Just a simple token of appreciation for your hard work can be a big boost to your productivity.
Tip: You can also reward yourself by showing some self-love after a long hard day of work. You can watch a movie or do your hobby, whatever that makes you happy and inspired.
Mastering the Work from Home setup can be challenging yet rewarding. It has become an integral part of the new normal under this pandemic. Follow the tips above to help increase your work productivity and improve your time management. Remember that keeping a healthy work-life balance is important to staying mentally and physically fit.
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