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Work from Home Tips: How to Adjust, Stay Focused & Be Productive

Working from home: 13 tips to help you adjust to your new workplace

Welcome to the world of remote work! Isn’t it interesting how employers who were once resistant to letting employees work from home, have magically found a way to make it work? If you’re new to WFH, just know that you may feel ungrounded in the beginning but you and your employer will soon find a rhythm that feels comfortable. 

WFH isn't always as idyllic as it sounds, but it can be

We’ve all experienced the distractions of the office- everything from noise to “cake in the breakroom” to interruptions by colleagues- while you may not be in the office anymore, home has its own set of distractions.

 

Staying focused can be challenging when you don’t have the structure of the office and when you now find yourself living in your workspace. Luckily, I’ve got you covered—here are my tips to help you adjust, focus, and stay productive. Get ready to show your employer that you’ve got this!

Set yourself up for success

1. Choose the right space

As tempting as it might be, working from bed is not an ideal workspace if you want to perform at your best. My top tip is to create a work space that encourages productivity.

 

Ambiance affects our mood, and that in turn can affect your productivity. Find an area in your home that you can dedicate as a workspace—a distraction-free zone separate from your personal space, where there are minimal interruptions.
 

If you already have a home office you’re good to go, but for those who need to set up a space— your guest room, the kitchen table, or a desk near a window will do. I have a foldable mounted a.k.a murphy desk in my room that is functional and a space saver.

2. Get cozy

Now that you’ve created your workplace, make sure you have everything you need to feel comfortable and supported so that you can focus on work. A few suggestions for a cozy home office: buy an external screen, invest in an ergonomic chair or even a stand-up desk, and choose the right lighting to create your ideal space.

3. Find your best work hours

Your work hours may be imposed on you by your boss. However if you have a choice, play around with your 9-5, while most people find this time of day to be their most productive, it isn’t always the case for everyone. 

 

To maximize productivity, it’s important to discover what the best time of day is to get work done for you. Early risers might find that their brain is most focused in the wee hours of the morning, while night owls feel the flow after the sun sets. Finding what time works for you will make getting work done much easier!

4. Set boundaries

Now that you know your best working hours, it’s time to set your work schedule. Flexibility can be a double-edged sword, since there’s no one to tell you to go home at the end of the day. To avoid long days and unnecessary overtime, stay rigid in your routine and stick to a set of work hours.

A set work schedule gives you a sense of routine, which can set a tone of productivity for your day. Mark a hard boundary between your work life and personal life, and then stick to it! Just because you now live in your workspace doesn’t mean you need to always be working. 

Limit distractions

5. Monotask

Science shows that monotasking—focusing on one skill at a time— is better than multitasking when it comes to productivity. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you need to do the laundry, cook, and clean as you work. Juggling multiple tasks at once is actually inefficient because your brain takes time to refocus when you go back and forth. Whether it’s a simple or complex task, focusing your attention on one item before moving to the next can lead to a big boost in productivity. So get to your personal to-do list outside of your work hours.

6. Have fewer meetings

It’s not just you: there ARE more meetings happening right now than before. Now that almost everyone is working remotely I feel like there are even more virtual events being added to my calendar. In an attempt to stay connected, teams may be inviting you to meetings that you really don’t need to be a part of. 

 

Double check if you’re not the right person to attend or if the information isn’t relevant to you, gracefully decline to join. Being stuck in a meeting that could have been covered in an email takes away from your productive time. One of the best things you can do is proposing “no meeting days” at least one to two days a week to clear your calendar for more important tasks.

7. Disable notifications

First things first: turn off unnecessary push notifications on your phone and laptop. Every time you get distracted by a notification it breaks you out of your flow and can send you down an internet or social media rabbit hole. If you find yourself habitually wandering away from work and onto news sites and social media, install blocking software that will prevent access to those sites and keep you focused.

8. Wear headphones

Wearing headphones and listening to music or even white noise can get you in the zone and focus on the task at hand. If you live with family or roommates, headphones can help block out the noise and also send a message that you are busy and not to be interrupted

Manage your time

9. Stick to your morning routine

Set yourself up for success from the moment you wake up. Maintaining your regular morning routine lets your brain know that it’s time for work. Set your alarm for the same time as a regular workday, eat breakfast, and get dressed as you normally would before heading to the office.

10. Create a checklist

To ensure things get done, you need to create a daily plan. I suggest using a simple checklist to help guide you through the day. Starting your day without a plan is the easiest way to waste time and lose track of your hours. A daily checklist keeps you focused, motivated, and on-task. Our pro-tip is to set a time limit per task or to even track your time (more on this in the next tips).

If you’re looking to try a modern take on the to-do list there are a few alternatives that have grown in popularity due to their simplicity in managing tasks and projects:

  • Bullet Journal –  A customizable all-in-one organization system that allows you to “track the past, organize the present, and plan the future.”

  •  Kanban Method –  A simple project management system created by Toyota that keeps track of your workflow with three areas: to-do, in progress, and done.

11. Try Pomodoro

Pomodoro is a useful time management method that breaks your workday into 25-minute “sprints” and five-minute breaks. It’s simple and effective in helping you get things done. It consists of five easy steps: 

  • Choose a task you would like to get done.
  • Set a 25-minute timer for “Pomodoro.”
  • Work on the task, uninterrupted, until the time is over.
  • Take a quick five-minute break—walk around, grab a cup of coffee, check social media, etc.
  • Every four “Pomodoros,” reward yourself with a longer break.

12. Prep your meals

This is a huge time and money, saver. Plus, it makes eating healthy quick and easy. Meals can be a big time suck for remote workers, from thinking about what you’re going to eat today to making daily meals from scratch. Prep your meals to eliminate another decision from your day and keep from getting easily distracted!

If you have the extra funds think about treating yourself to home delivery which can help local businesses during these tough times. If you’re concerned about the safety of food prepared outside your home check out this comprehensive guide on food safety and COVID19.

13. Schedule downtime

In addition to taking breaks using the Pomodoro technique, it’s also nice to schedule some downtime throughout the week. Take advantage of the flexibility of remote work and add an afternoon home workout to your schedule. Maybe take your dog on a post-lunch walk, have a quick virtual chat via Zoom, or even watch an episode of your favorite show midday. These small spurts of downtime can boost motivation and give you something to work toward. 

Part of productivity is to make sure you don’t experience burnout. Working remotely can feel isolating and even intense when you spend the entire workday hunched over a laptop by yourself. Taking a longer break halfway into your workday can leave you feeling refreshed for the second half. 

Working from home, your new normal

Working remotely is a rewarding opportunity, but it can take some time to find your flow. You just need a bit of strategy to train your brain and create new habits for productivity. Once you figure out what works for you, you’ll have no problem getting work done remotely! 

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