With the majority of organizations having employees work from home, I thought it might be a good time to share a few personal tips/suggestions that I’ve learned to help stay focused and productive while working from home.
I have been working from home for over 20 years and although many people can effectively work remotely, I have to admit that some are just not cut out for it. Covid-19 has forced many of us to work from home out of necessity. How do we ensure we can become as productive at home as we were in the office? I have to say; I have always found working from home more productive than going into an office. However, during this pandemic, it might not be as true as we are faced with many more distractions at home today, for example, the news, educating our kids and college students taking online classes at home. Nevertheless, I think the following tips can get you to a place where you can become as productive as possible while working from home, even with the many distractions.
Tip #1: Establish A Routine
It is important to get yourself into a routine. Creating a habit of your daily tasks can help keep you focused while eliminating bad habits you may fall susceptible to. Take a moment to determine what time you should start work, when you take breaks and when you should eat lunch. I suggest taking many mini-breaks, just simply walking around and talking on a call vs. sitting at your desk is a great way to keep moving but also a way to give yourself a bit of a break. Remember, especially during the pandemic, there might be a more appropriate schedule for you. For example, if you have young kids at home, set time to help them through their day first, and then spend time on your work. If you attempt to do both at the same time, you will get frustrated, your kids will get frustrated, and your productivity will suffer.
You want to give 100% of your focus to the task at hand. There is NO such thing as multi-tasking. It is switch tasking, and if you are doing that, nobody wins.
Tip #2: Get Dressed
I have seen many people say you should dress up or wear attire that you would normally wear to work. I have never followed this practice. However, I have always dressed in gear that enables me to work out whenever I get the opportunity. This also goes back to tip #1, establish a routine.
Tip #3: Establish An “Office”
Several years ago, we moved into a “new” house. We were planning on doing many renovations, but the three things I requested was that my office was set up immediately and in view of my birdfeeder and fountain. If it is possible, you should surround yourself with an office that works for you and includes what makes you happy. For me, bird watching is paramount to my happiness, which is paramount to my success. The décor in my office includes my diplomas, a poster about success, as well as many family photos. There is also a ton of natural light and I face my french doors, so I get the view of my bird feeder and fountain. Your home office should be a place where you are comfortable and enjoy spending time.
Tip #4: Get Some Exercise And Take Time to Reflect
People often say they have their best ideas in the shower or walking the dog. It’s times like these where you can unplug and uncover your best ideas. That is exactly why you should plan for some unplugged time during your day. I often get my best ideas while shooting hoops in my backyard, remember my previous tip about setting a routine and getting in a few breaks. I also do an “oxide dump” exercise at least twice a day but aim for 3 times a day. You can learn more about how to do an Oxide Dump, here. It is the perfect way to get a high-intensity workout in very little time. Although this should be a workout that anyone can do, no matter the condition you are in, as with any exercise program, you should consult with your Dr. before you begin.
Tip #5: No Micro-Managing
If you are managing people that are now working from home, you shouldn’t be automatically assuming their hours are the same. You should virtually meet with them to discuss what their new work routine will look like and how you can support them to enable their success. Let go of the idea that they are not at their “desk” when they should be and don’t panic if it is taking more time then expected to respond to an email. Make sure you are providing them with all the tools for them to be successful and the support they need to make the transition. Then determine jointly what times they will be at their “desk” and when they will be available for calls, etc. You should also jointly determine what success looks like when working from home. For example, if a metric used to judge their success was based on arriving to work on time, that can’t be a metric anymore, what is the new metric?
As we all settle in for weeks or months of working from home, our only choice is to make it work. Many of us don’t have any other options, so for now, follow these tips, and be as productive as you can at home. Make sure you follow the protocols your local government is requiring, get your exercise, and make sure you are 100% focused on the task at hand, which means if it is responding to email, that is your focus. I’m sure we can all relate to the importance of quality time and that is true for work and home life! Make sure you are 100% dedicated to either-or but don’t try to do both at the same time; it just doesn’t work.