The world is rapidly changing and many of us may now find ourselves working from home. To some of us this may be new territory and for others, a familiar experience. Maintaining productivity while working from home can present a certain set of challenges; there are numerous distractions at home and many of us can find ourselves wondering off task. If you want tips on how to boost your productivity in your work environment, we have a blog for that! You can find it here. For working at home, specifically, here are our top 6 tips:
1. Create a work schedule
Just like your regular office working day it is vital that you create a structured schedule to work by and stick to it. Have you been working 9-5 for the last few years? Then working from home doesn’t mean you should necessarily change that. It may not be practical for you to stick to 9-5 but try to create a schedule that feels familiar and you are comfortable with. If you share your space with others then inform them of this schedule. This will help you set boundaries around when you can socialize together and when you are in ‘work mode’. Within your schedule you should also include your tasks and objectives for the day. It is always best to attack your biggest task first thing so schedule this in your calendar and set yourself a ‘completed by’ time.
2. Create a routine
We are creatures of habit and we experience results when we repeat actions at the same time on repeated days. As you are no longer commuting to your place of work you have essentially gained that time back in your day. Why not use this time to create some healthy ‘before work’ habits? This could involve some self care, exercise and or meditation. Find out what feels good and what gives you joy and do it every day at the same time.
It is just as important to end your day as it is to start it. End your work day with a definitive action. This can be something as simple as going for a quick walk around the block, making a snack or taking 10 minutes to read. This action helps you transition out of work state and into your home state.
3. Leave the house
This one obviously depends on your situation but if you have time and are able to do so then get outside at least twice a day for 15 minutes (yes, regardless of the weather). The fresh air, day light and change of scenery will do wonders for your productivity, energy levels and mental wellness. See our blog on maintaining mental health while at home here. The change of scene breaks the monotony of your surroundings and will remove you from the distractions of your home which could easily prevent you from getting work done. Remember, doing tasks around the house will help you feel busy but not necessarily productive.
4. Create accountability
Let’s face it, working from home will take some getting used to and, certainly to start, you may not work as effectively as you do when in the office. This is totally OK. One way we can boost our desire to get tasks completed is by creating personal accountability. You can either do this with yourself by setting a workback list and a set of daily / weekly objectives that you want to complete or you can share this information with a work colleague (thereby creating an accountability buddy). Tell your colleague what you are working on so that it is not just figurative. You can then check in with each other every few hours to see how you are getting on.
Get familiar with Facetime Google Hangouts, Zoom or Skype and check in with your colleagues. Not only will this help with your accountability but it will allow you to maintain some of the office comradery and cheer that you will certainly miss in your day to day. As part of this you should also practice being clear and positive with your communication. Not being able to communicate face to face means the information we are relaying loses its tone, especially when it comes in written form. This is why you will see a lot of people using a lot of emoji’s and exclamation points in their writing so they sound enthusiastic rather than potentially sounding sarcastic. If you want to be clear with your email communications, we at Pinnacle use a system of prefacing our emails with the following: Action, Awareness, Advice or Approval. Prefacing your email with this lets the person you are emailing know exactly what you need from them and removes the uncertainty around their tone.
6. Hold online meetings
As well as regular check ins with your colleagues it is important that you have regular leadership and guidance to ensure your team is all aligned. Hosting online audio and/or video meetings can be an effective way of doing this all while allowing your team to be connected in a shared (virtual) space. If feasible, start your meeting by taking 5-10 minutes to conduct personal check-ins with everyone involved. This could just be; “Share how you are feeling, one thing that is bringing you joy and one challenge where you need support”. This helps everyone settle in, understand what is important to each other, engage in the meeting and feel like they are being heard. If you have a larger team and/or limited time for meetings then you can always hold virtual coffee mornings to give space and time to connect.
Online meetings can eat into a lot of ‘work time’ so try to keep them snappy and relevant (see this blog for meeting tips). If you are using a new system then be sure to do a practice call before your meeting so you know how to operate the system and can quickly troubleshoot if there are any issues. This way you don’t lose valuable time in your actual meetings to technical difficulties.
7. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Remember, practice makes perfect. You may have never worked from home before and so getting into the swing of it and ironing out the kinks is going to take time. Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself getting distracted or tending to your own needs or the needs of others. Acknowledge your distractions / urges and try to find ways to appease and then prevent them.
Also, if you are sick, take a sick day just like you would if you were going into the office. With everything that is going on in the world right now looking after our mental and physical health is paramount. Communicate your situation with your boss/team and practice good self care to get you back to your best. Remember to breathe :)
This is a very unique time we are living in and altering our lifestyles is going to take time and practice but we can get through it together. We may be uploading more blogs on how to work effectively from home as our situations develop. Do you have any tips or advice for others that have worked for you? Comment below or reach out to us on our social media channels.
Stay safe, stay connected and look out for others.