When you first heard about widespread lockdowns needing as many people as possible to work from home, what was your reaction? If you regularly commuted to an office, maybe you opted to look on the bright side by viewing it as a refreshing (and temporary) change of pace. You could remove your foot from the accelerator, enjoy some quiet time, and let the nightmare blow over.
Reality didn’t exactly go that way, of course. Soon enough, it was widely understood that remote working would be the norm for a long time. The COVID-19 situation wouldn’t reach a neat conclusion in a matter of months. Today, we know that it could be years before we’re able to move on from this frustrating anxiety — and it’s taking a toll on our jobs and our psyches.
This is why we need to do everything we can to get truly accustomed to working from home: viewing it as a part of everyday life instead of a novelty. That means getting back into the old mindset of concentrating on productivity. In this post, we’re going to look at some tips for staying productive while working from home, leading to less stress and better days.
How To Stay Productive When Working From Home
Focus On Efficient Task Management
Traditionally, the organization of workloads has often been left in the hands of managers, with those handling the work simply being told what to do and when to do it. Headstrong types don’t like that approach, but many people do like it because it keeps things extremely simple and allows them to minimize their responsibility.
Now that you’re working from home, you likely don’t have the option of just sitting back and letting a manager or team leader oversee every part of your day. It’s more probable that you’re allocated certain projects and expected to decide for yourself how you’ll tackle them. This is a great thing if you welcome autonomy, but it still presents a new challenge.
You need to hone your ability to deftly manage what’s on your plate: identify the order of client priority, break a project down into tasks, note all dependencies and deadlines, and get it done. Using elements of automation to deal with the most repetitive elements will be a huge help, so get to grips with basic workflow automation and implement it wherever useful.
Have a Clear Work/Life Division
For most people, office life made days fairly easy to figure out. Get up, leave home, work the required hours, then come back. When they were at work, they were in work mode, getting their minds off personal matters (for the most part) — and when they were at home, they could forget about workplace concerns. It made things easy to track.
Now that they’re working from home, they’re finding that it’s all too easy to let work and home life blur together even further. They can worry that they’ll be seen as lazy if they don’t put in extra time, or get so wrapped up in what they’re doing that they keep going for several hours without noticing that they should have finished.
This is ultimately bad for productivity because it leads to dissatisfaction and burnout. You need to think about long-term results. By setting a clear schedule — and neatly delineating your home hours and your work hours — you can make it so much easier to enjoy your free time and make the most of your workdays.
Mitigate Typical Home Distractions
Offices have always had distractions, but so do homes. Instead of trying to ignore the chatter of your coworkers and the general buzz of activity, you have to avoid having your attention drawn away by people you live with, your pets, whatever food you have in your kitchen, your TV…
There will always be things to take up your time if you’re looking for an escape from what you’re doing, and it’s all too easy to intend to take a short break but end up getting nothing done for several hours because there was no one around to tell you to get back to work. The best thing to do, then, is find ways to minimize those distractions.
If you have pets, keep them out of the room. When your appetite distracts you, keep healthy snacks in your home office area. If noise is an issue, get some noise-cancelling headphones and put some background music on while you work. Do whatever you need to do.
Get it clear in your head that you’re not just sitting around at home, no matter how much your comfort level tells you otherwise. You’re a professional in your office. It’s vitally important that you get your work done, and you can return to enjoying the comforts of home when you’re done.
Cultivate a Positive Mindset
Lastly, a huge part of staying productive while working from home is finding ways to be positive. These are miserable times, and we’ll all need to wait quite a while for them to get better. In the meantime, you need to focus on the good things: the job you still have, the friends you can talk to, the food you can eat, etc. There are plenty of reasons to be grateful.
There are also reasons to be hopeful. People across the world are battling to get this pandemic under control, and their efforts will pay off sooner or later — and when they do, you’ll appreciate life so much more. So don’t let your concerns and anxieties drag you down. Aim to start every working day with a good attitude, and it’ll make a big difference.