How to keep up your productivity when working from home
The dreary period from January to March tends to be the least motivating stretch of the year in the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. As COVID-19 continues to sequester many of us in our homes in 2021, the need to revive productivity seems more crucial than ever.
Overcome the challenges of working remotely with these tips:
- Block yourself. To avert the rabbit hole of mindless online browsing, create obstacles for your impulses. Log out of your social media accounts before 9:00am so that they’re not just a click away. Try installing a web extension or blocking software to temporarily prohibit access to the sites and applications that commonly steal your attention.
- Uphold boundaries. Be strict about what warrants interruption. If your dog begs you to take a long walk, it can be difficult to refuse. Work to avoid temptation entirely by firmly upholding the policy that no one should bother you unless it’s truly urgent.
- No field trips. A stroll can do wonders to refresh your mind, but don’t fall prey to the temptation to run errands. Each time you leave, imagine explaining your excursion to a co-worker and weigh whether it would be an acceptable reason to leave the office. Doctor’s appointment? Yes. Shopping for wine for the weekend? Maybe not.
Optimize your Atmosphere
- Keep it tidy. The accumulation of mugs on your desk may have a negative impact on the efficacy of your work effort. If you’re most productive in the morning and you arrive at your desk only to spend the next half hour collecting and cleaning the dishes and garbage you neglected yesterday, you’re setting yourself up for an unproductive day. Instead, tidy in manageable increments outside your productivity golden hours.
- Fake it ‘til you make it. Not everyone can create their dream home-office, but there are many ways to make your workspace work for you. No access to a spare room? Try erecting a room divider or hanging a curtain to create some semblance of separation. Noise-cancelling headphones can likewise create a feeling of a separate workspace. Though it may be tempting roll over and start working from your laptop in bed, keeping a similar routine as you would follow to go to the office is likelier to set your brain on a productive track.
- Know when to sign-off. When the lines separating work and home have never been more blurred, work-life balance is essential. Communicate to your coworkers that the boundary of your work hours is to be respected whenever possible. If all you can to do to “leave” the office is walk away from your computer, do so. And, be firm that you’re not available for evening emails or calls unless they are urgent. If your hours are flexible, it may be tempting to sleep late and work late. However, be aware this can widen the gap between you and your coworkers, who may only be available nine-to-five.
- Practice Self-care. Isolation from your peers can have a negative impact on collaborative effort, as well as your emotional well-being. Scheduling frequent check-ins with coworkers can prevent this. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting sufficient sleep, preparing nutritious meals, and exercising. Increase comradery among your peers and hold yourself accountable for positive habits, for example, by inviting co-workers to join you in virtual fitness sessions or by creating a shared document where you track your progress as a team.
While the challenges of remote work may seem daunting, there are many helpful habits you can form to improve your productivity and overall well-being while working from home.