In light of recent events, many of us who are used to working in the office have become rapidly acquainted with a remote work lifestyle. While working from home definitely has its perks, (no commute, no need to get dressed up, not having to work from the office) it turns out that for most of us, these aforementioned rituals are often exactly what we need to prepare us for a day of fruitful work.
Without the structure of the 9 to 5 we’ve all grown so accustomed to, our productivity and output are bound to be impacted. Here are a few handy tips and tricks you can leverage to ensure that you’re getting the job done during these interesting times.
1. Stick to Your Morning Routine
When your commute to the office is essentially rolling out of bed and opening your laptop, it can be tempting to hit snooze a few more times than you normally would. While it’s always nice to get a few extra minutes of shuteye, sticking to your typical morning ritual will guarantee that you’ve given yourself enough time to mentally prepare for the workday ahead.
Before logging on, make sure to shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, drink a cup of tea or coffee, and maybe even get out of the house for a bit – these activities will help facilitate your transition from “home-mode” to “work-mode”.
A Tip from our Team:
“I’m not a fan of rolling out of bed and hopping right on the computer. When I work from home, the first thing I do in the morning after my shower is to go outside. Whether it’s to go grab a cup of coffee or just take a small walk, it feels purposeful to have some sort of journey in the morning.” – Joe
2. Create A Designated Workspace
Dedicating a specific room or area in your home to work is crucial to keeping your productivity up while working from home. Don’t get us wrong, it can be tempting to write that report up from the comfort of your bed or sprawled out on the living room couch, but you should avoid doing this for one important reason: these spaces are associated with rest and leisure, not getting work done.
Similar to how lying in bed prepares our bodies for rest, sitting up and working at a table or desk prepares us for work. You’re simply more likely to get things done the closer you stick to your typical work structure and schedule, and if you’re like many people, you’ve been working at a desk for the bulk of your career. Your brain and body are used to being productive in this environment, so do your best to create a space that mimics your regular working conditions.
A Tip from Our Team:
“I find it a must to have a designated space for your work, because laundry, dishes, and other projects can be very distracting. By keeping a designated space, you also have a place to leave your work so you aren’t taking it ‘home’.” – Jo
3. Set Expectations for the People You Live With
Whether it’s your children, roommates, parents or partners that are occupying your new workspace, it’s important to have a conversation with them to set expectations surrounding your new lifestyle. Not everyone is familiar with the challenges of working from home, specifically how difficult it can be to stay productive and on-task when others are popping in and out of your “office”; by communicating your needs clearly, you can limit the unnecessary distractions that suck up your valuable time.
The conversation can be something as simple as, “Hey, I know that you get home before I’m done work for the day, and I’d really appreciate it if you could hold off on playing loud music until I log off. I usually have a conference call around 4 every day, and the music can be very distracting. Is that alright with you?”
Proactively setting boundaries and expectations with the people you live with cannot only help you manage your new work situation more effectively, but increase your productivity as well.
A Tip from Our Team:
“I’ve learned that when you’re working from home, you need to set expectations with the people you live with. It can be hard for others to tell if you’re “at work” or not. I usually wear headphones as a visual cue for do-not-disturb, even if I’m not listening to anything.” – Mandy
4. Make a Checklist, and Keep it Front and Center
If you don’t already keep a detailed checklist of everything you have to accomplish in a given day’s work, now is the time to start. Anyone with a busy schedule and no structure is bound to struggle, especially without the presence of your coworkers and managers to keep you on task.
By keeping your to-do list front and center, you can be certain that your work priorities will never stray too far from mind, as there’s a constant reminder of what you’re responsible for completing plastered right in front of you.
If you find that you’re overwhelmed by the size of the tasks on your to-do list, try spending some time breaking them into smaller, more manageable efforts. Research has shown that simply devising a plan to tackle tasks can reduce anxiety, even if they haven’t been completed yet.
A Tip from Our Team:
“I like to make a list of my top three priorities for the day and keep it beside my computer to help me stay focused on the things I need to get done.” – Jo
5. Take Regular Breaks
During a typical day of work at the office, you probably take more breaks than you realize; whether it’s trips to the bathroom, quick chats around the water cooler, or that nice long lunch hour, most people aren’t stationed in front of their computers for eight hours a day straight.
You shouldn’t be either – taking breaks throughout the day is healthy and allows us to take some time to mentally relax before getting back to work. Not only that, but sometimes when you’re in the weeds of a project, taking a step back can help you come up with new, creative solutions you wouldn’t have otherwise.
So, go ahead and take a few minutes to get your laundry done or walk the dog – the quality of your work will be better for it.
6. Avoid Social Media and Other Online Distractions
Whether you’re at home or in the office, there’s no denying that the internet provides many opportunities for distraction – and social media is one of the biggest culprits. If you struggle with staying on task while working from home, consider removing the bookmarks on your browser that give you quick access to sites that will cause you to get sidetracked.
If that doesn’t do the trick, there are a number of extensions and applications available that can limit or prohibit your access to certain sites for an amount of time that you decide. If you know that your after-lunch social media browsing habit is putting a dent in your productivity, this could be a route worth going down.
Here are some popular options:
7. Try Turning on Background Noise
While the constant, inaudible background chatter that echoes through the office can often be distracting, for some people, the same can be said about near-complete silence. There’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation here, but if you find that your productivity is waning in your new workspace, playing background noise while you’re clocked in could be the key to improving your focus.
In recent studies, researchers have found that loud, white background noise can improve one’s attention by up to 20%. This may not be the solution for those with sensitive ears, because we’re talking loud – like vacuum cleaner loud. Interestingly enough, the study found that when the white noise was lower than 70 decibels, the benefit diminished. Try it for yourself.
If white noise doesn’t do it for you, maybe brown noise will.
A Tip from Our Team:
“While background noise helps me focus, I personally find television and radio to be distracting. One of the ways I get into the ‘zone’ is by having some sort of brown noise in the background. Instrumental music or a low-humming fan (or both) are my go-to’s.” – Joe
8. Make the Best of a Tough Situation
When we’re always in the office, working from home every day can almost seem like a dream. Now that many of us are all but confined to our homes, some would jump at the opportunity to make small talk with a coworker while standing around the coffee machine. In times like this, it’s clear to see that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
There’s no getting around it, the road ahead will be a challenging one. But challenges provide opportunities, and this situation is no different – you now have a chance to take the time you’d usually spend commuting to further your development, both personally and professionally.
Need some inspiration? Why not try:
- Reading a book written by an expert in your space
- Starting a new thought-provoking podcast series
- Taking e-courses to gain a deeper understanding of your industry
- Rekindling your passion for an old hobby
In addition to these suggestions, spending your newfound time making memories with your family is always a quality option as well. On behalf of Best Egg, please do your best to stay safe, sane, and healthy throughout these coming weeks, and know that we’re here for you during these trying times.