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10 tips for being productive while working from home

Mother multi-tasking with infant daughter in home office

Be both productive and comfortable while working from home

Working from home is a great option for many people. Remote work can offer more flexibility and comfort in your working life, and tons of workers are opting to join a conference call instead of heading into the conference room. While working from home can have many benefits, such as no commute and more time with family, it can also present some unique challenges. At the top of the list? Maintaining productivity.

Strategies for staying productive while working from home.

1 – Get ready for the day: While the temptation can be there to stay in bed as long as possible and keep those comfy pajamas on, it can be helpful to get ready for the day the same way you would if you were going to the office. Take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and complete any other parts of your usual morning routine just as you would if you were heading to the office. Something as simple as being dressed in work attire and sitting at a table instead of on the couch can alter your perception of the tasks at hand and improve your focus!

2 – Stick with your routine: Maintaining a routine can be extremely important, especially if you are working from home for a short time or alternate days.Try to keep your routine as consistent as possible including wake-up time, breakfast, exercise routines, lunch breaks, and anything else that may fluctuate if left unchecked. This will provide a sense of normalcy and allow you to look forward to what lies ahead for the day. It also helps provide reliable “wins” for the day, which can improve your mental health while social distancing.

3 – Have a dedicated workspace: When working from home it can be tempting to work from bed, in front of the TV, or in the center of the household chaos—but you shouldn’t. It is important to have a dedicated workspace where you can fight off distractions and stay productive. You also want to separate yourself from other adults in the house, your kids, and even your pets. All of them present a potential for unanticipated distractions that—while relatively innocent—can interrupt your workflow and lessen productivity.

4 – Set daily goals: When working from home, hours and days can seem to extend or blend together. It’s important to have goals for each day, both work-related and personal. This will ensure you stay on task and are able to log off in time to enjoy the remainder of your day as you typically would when leaving the office. It can also allow you to feel confident that you’ve been productive and focused for the majority of your workday.

5 – Check in with the office: Working from home doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. Use technology to check in with your co-workers. Video calls, messaging, and phone meetings are all good options for keeping up with your co-workers. If other people from your office are also working from home, they’re likely feeling similarly. Having a sense of connection can prevent you all from feeling isolated. Some meetings don’t necessarily require video, but using it whenever possible will make a difference in how your brain interprets socialization. Facial expressions and body language are massive parts of communication. When left out of the equation, they can leave you feeling unsatisfied after a meeting.

6 – Set boundaries: Boundaries are very important when working from home to ensure work-life balance.When you are home and “work” is so easily accessible, it can be hard to “go home.” Set a schedule of when you plan to be “in the office,” and make sure you adhere to it the best you can. Also set aside time to be “away” from the office, either to go outside for a walk or simply to think about something outside of work. These breaks can work wonders for your productivity.

7 – Exercise: Being physically active supports both your mental and physical health. An exercise routine may be even more important when working from home because you may not be moving as much overall. If exercise isn’t a part of your typical routine, you can start small and build your way up with 10-minute walks or yoga sessions. Work-from-home wellness is a complicated challenge, but with time things will fall into place.

8 – Schedule time for yourself: For many, commutes are a time to reflect, read, or enjoy a calming activity. If you are not commuting, you may need to find a new way to fit this in. Try making time for meditation, walking, reading, quiet reflection, or any other activity you enjoy during your commute.

9 – Take a digital detox from nonwork media: For some, being home means being more “connected” through digital devices. This can have a negative effect on sleep schedules as well as general mood. If things become too hectic or your time is spent attached to digital devices, it may be time for a digital detox. A few days away—or just significantly distanced—from devices can make an enormous difference in your mood and outlook.

10 – Set up a comfortable workstation: Ergonomics are just as important in your home workspace. When working from home, you want to ensure that you have a workspace that’s set up safely as well. Here are some tips from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a safe and ergonomic workspace1:

  • Have your monitor at or just below eye level.
  • Ensure your head, neck, and shoulders are relaxed.
  • Keep your lower back supported.
  • Check that your wrists are in line with your forearms.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor.

There are many benefits to working from home, and many people do it very successfully. You can be one of them! The secret? Prioritize your workflow and set up a workday that works for you. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to be productive and leave the “office” each day feeling accomplished too.

References:

[1] Computer Workstations eTool. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 2020. Accessed April 7, 2020. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/index.html

[2] Gabarda A. Digital Detox. UPMC MyHealth Matters blog. 2020. Accessed April 7, 2020. https://www.upmcmyhealthmatters.com/how-to-approach-a-digital-detox/