7 Tips for Staying Productive While Working From Home
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all walking together through uncharted territory. Schools are transitioning to online learning, and offices, stores, and restaurants are closing their doors. Many people are temporarily out of work, some are working from home.
I work in the academic advising and career services offices at a local university. I'm among the fortunate that get to continue their normal work routine, while also practicing social distancing from my home. I recognize that there are many that are not able to do so, and I empathize with you during this difficult time. In addition to that, there are also many that have been laid off from their place of work. On a normal day this would be life changing. In our current situation, it can be earth shattering. I empathize with you, and know that you will get through this difficult time, and you will come out stronger. If you find yourself in need of unemployment benefits, please visit this site to learn more about how you can apply in Minnesota. https://www.uimn.org/applicants/
This is my first time working from home. I quickly learned that there are certain things I could do throughout the day to help keep my days as productive as possible. By reading many articles from those that successfully work from home, and a few days of trial and error, I have come up with the following tips that I think could also be helpful to others.
1. Keep Your Morning Routine
I'm very much a creature of habit. Anything I can do to make working from home feel as routine as possible is important. It's equally as important to not work in my pajamas, though tempting it may be! To be honest, I've been wearing sweats for the past week... but waking up and changing my clothes has been a helpful part of keeping my normal morning routine. This way, it still feels like I'm starting a regular work day!
2. Take Breaks
In keeping with the theme of having a normal routine, make sure to take breaks throughout the day. At work, I would get up, walk around, get a cup of coffee, take a lunch break etc. keep doing that at home! It's easy to work through lunch, or to continue working past the end of the day. This can lead to fatigue. Make sure to take breaks just as you normally would during the day.
3. Set Your Schedule
Similar to the previous tip, setting a schedule will help alleviate the potential for burnout. Having all of your work supplies at home can make it tempting to keep working or checking your email past work hours. Stick to your schedule and relax when you need to be relaxing!
4. Have a Designated Workspace
If there's one downside to working from home, it's distractions. Having a designated workspace is one way to help alleviate that. The other important factor of a designated workspace is helping to keep a sense of work-life balance. That being said, don't do any work in your bed/bedroom if you can help it. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary and your place to relax. Try as hard as you can to keep some sort of separation between your normal home life and work.
5. Set Expectations With Others in the Home
I live alone, so I haven't personally experienced this, but if you live with family or roommates make sure to set expectations. If you have a conference call and need it to be quiet, let them know! If you have a hard time focusing and can't be disturbed during work hours, let them know! They key here is open and honest communication to avoid any potential conflicts.
6. Plan Out What You'll be Working on Ahead of Time
If you're like me, it's helpful to have a "to-do" list. This goes back to helping to make your days as productive as possible. Set a few goals for things to complete each day. It will help keep your moral up, and keep you on task.
7. Interact With Your Coworkers
One of the things we can all appreciate about working is the social interaction that we get from our coworkers. This can be a lot more difficult when working from home. Make an effort to keep in touch with your colleagues! We have amazing technology at our fingertips to help us do so. Keep each other in the loop, and help keep each other motivated and positive.
We are living in a scary, uncertain, and overwhelming world at this time. It's okay to feel scared, anxious and overwhelmed about it. Practice self care, read a book, take a walk outside, or FaceTime or Skype with your friends and family. Above all, please practice social distancing. We need to work together (separately) as fellow humans, and a worldwide community to stop the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.
Thank you to our essential workers for keeping us safe during this time. We wouldn't be able to survive without you, and will be forever grateful for the work you did to help us during this time.
Keep yourself, your family, and your community safe. Practice social distancing, stay home if you feel sick, and wash your hands often. We will get through this difficult time together, and we will be stronger at the end of it.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Minnesota Department of Health: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html
Food Pantries in Minnesota: https://www.foodpantries.org/st/minnesota