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Tips For Working From Home
The coronavirus has accelerated the trend of working from home.
Now, at least 34 percent of the American workforce recently reported that they are working from home, and there are indications that this will be an enduring feature of the workforce even after the end of COVID-19.
This is due in large part because many employers are noticing that their remote workers’ productivity levels are the same or even better in some situations. Since the company is still able to run effectively, the companies can hire remote teams without as much of a budget on their office.
While there are many benefits to working at home, there are numerous challenges as well that can lead to declines in your productivity and sap your morale.
So, if you would like to avoid some of the more common remote work pitfalls, here are five great tips for working from home.
Tips For Working From Home
Establish an Office Environment
If you want to be productive while you’re working from home, everyone in your house or apartment has to respect the time that you dedicate to work – including yourself. The best way to do this is to signal to everyone when you’re working and need limited distractions. A simple sign on your door should suffice to let everyone around you know you need to be left to work in peace.
Just make sure that everyone that you live with understands when you are off-limits. This will make it so you can get into that mind frame so you can ensure a high level of productivity.
If you don’t have a dedicated home office and just move from room to room in your home while you work, no worries; a simple sign on the table, or even your laptop, will help people know to let you be. You also need to send yourself a signal when it is time to work.
You can set office conditions for yourself by creating a standard desktop setup, with your laptop, notebooks, pens, papers, and anything else you need. Having all of these items on hand wherever you’re working will help you signal to yourself that it is time to get down to business and be productive as well.
While working around the house is great, ideally you are going to want a home office, even if it is just a portion of your bedroom. If your company is going to be working remotely for an extended period of time, which most companies seem to be leaning towards, then you are going to need your own space to really get into the frame of mind that you need to propel your career.
Set Clear Work-Life Boundaries
Many people who work from home cite burnout as a major pitfall. It is too easy to get in the habit of working nearly all the time. Remote workers often get in a rut where they work late into the evening, sleep for a few hours, and then grab their laptops off the nightstand and begin working before they’ve even gotten out of bed. It is really hard to sustain your productivity if you’re working like this, and your morale and possibly your health could take a hit from this sort of lifestyle as well.
The reason behind this is the fact that there is no clear change in environment when you are working from home. If you were working in an office, then you would notice a clear change of environment from the time that you leave your home to when you walk into the office. Without this change in environment, it is easy to have your head outside of the tasks you are currently completing which will ultimately enable you to fall into this pitfall of working yourself into the ground.
Instead of working yourself into the ground, maintain your productivity by setting clear work-life boundaries. Get up at a certain time every day and begin working at a proscribed time as well. Have set times throughout the day when you step away from “the office” to clear your head and maintain your focus. Finally, and most importantly, ensure there is a time in the evening when you simply shut down the laptop and stop working. Imposing this sort of structure upon yourself will help you avoid burnout and remain productive while you’re working from home.
Make sure that your boss understands this, and if you have a boss who cares about you then they should absolutely understand. If your boss is not very understanding about this, then it may be time to find a new boss because working for someone who doesn’t care about you is never a good work experience. You have to make sure that you are available and alert for the most important things that you have to get done but at the same time, there is more to life than work and every employee deserves a balance between the two.
Maintain Your Professional Appearance
While you don’t have to wear a suit and tie every day while you’re working from home you should nonetheless strive to set some sort of office standard for yourself. Doing so will help reinforce the work-life boundaries discussed earlier; it will also help you project a professional appearance with anyone you meet with in person or connect with via Zoom or other teleconferencing systems.
Avoid working in your pajamas or sweatpants, and instead aim for some sort of workday casual outfit; a pair of jeans or slacks with a polo shirt, or a blouse with slacks, will normally suffice for remote work office wear. If you need to bring up the formality a notch for a Zoom call, you can simply throw on a matching blazer over the aforementioned ensembles. Send a message to other people – and yourself – that you’re here in your home office to work, and chances are you’ll get more done each day.
It is easy to pick up unhealthy habits if you work from home. Many people who have recently transitioned from an office to remote work have discussed how they found themselves eating poorly, exercising less, and gaining weight. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself unable to fit into your dress slacks the next time you need to wear them. To avoid weight gain and other unfavorable changes to your health, ensure you practice good self-care habits while working from home.
Try to eat healthy meals and avoid excessive amounts of junk food; as a minimum, keep the snacks far away from you while you’re working, so you have to get up from your workstation if you want one. With most gyms closed it may be challenging to have a good workout these days. However, ensure you take the time to exercise regularly however you can. Additionally, you should avoid excessive alcohol consumption while working from home and get adequate sleep each night as well.
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Commit to a Morning Routine
When you are working from home, it is very important that you stick to a morning routine. You should be doing things like practicing regular hygiene, journaling, meditating, reading, or anything else that is going to fit well into your routine. The idea behind the morning routine is to enable you to have the right mindset in order to run a productive day. If you wake up fifteen minutes before your Zoom call and are scrambling to brew some coffee while your first meeting is getting started then you are setting yourself up for a long day.
A good morning routine means that you should be waking up a little earlier than you may be comfortable with. This may take some time for you to get used to, but once you finally do get into it, you will notice a much more productive day.
In addition to waking up early, you want to make sure that you are completing things in the morning that is going to serve you throughout the rest of your day. This means that it is probably a good idea to stimulate both your body as well as your mind. This can be done through exercise and reading. If reading is too much in the morning, then you can listen to audiobooks to stimulate your mind.
This is something that many people seem to struggle with, but a cold shower in the morning is a great way for you to wake up very quickly. You can literally prime both your body and your mind to be ready for the day before you even brew your coffee. The last thing that you should do with your morning routine is to make sure that you are getting a good breakfast. Skipping this meal can have a significant impact on your day and since you are no longer commuting, it is going to be much easier for you to be able to cook up a quick breakfast.
Stay on Task
One of the biggest challenges of working from home – especially if you remain part of a larger organization – is maintaining the same level of work output you did in an office. Absent the structure most of us grew accustomed to in a traditional work environment, many of us initially experience a drop in productivity working from home. With no managers looking over our shoulders, or the rigors of having to brief our work progress in staff meetings, it is common to commit too much time to superfluous tasks instead of the critical work we actually need to accomplish.
To prevent decreased productivity while working from home, you should take steps to maintain your focus on key work. Make a list each morning of the things you need to accomplish. Make sure your list is realistic, and that you allocate the time required to complete everything. Additionally, do self-assessments at the end of the week to determine what you completed, and what still needs to be done. If you maintain this sort of rigor while you’re working from home, you’ll be able to accomplish just as much remotely as you ever could in an office setting.
Tips For Working At Home: Parting Thoughts
More people than ever before are working from home. If you’re one of them, you can turn the work from a home lifestyle into an opportunity to be extremely productive; you can also have a high quality of life while working remotely as well. However, you’ll also face many challenges that can impede your productivity and limit your ability to focus. So, take the tips offered here into consideration, and you’ll be ready to have a great work-from-home experience.
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