With half the world under some sort of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most people have been forced to work from home.
The benefits of homeworking outweigh the challenges once you’re used to it. Although the temptation to watch a movie, complete chores, or play with the dog exists, there are major benefits to working from home.
These include taking breaks when you want and avoiding counter-productive office chats.
By following these tips, you’ll be more productive while working from home.
1. Create a dedicated space
If you have an extra room available, use it exclusively for work. Have an adjustable chair and enough working space on your desk. If you don’t have a separate room, section off part of the dining room table or shut yourself in the bedroom. Tell your family that you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed for x amount of hours. If necessary, put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door.
2. Write a ‘to-do’ list
Writing a to-do list on a piece of paper or on your computer will allow you to see exactly what’s needed and crossing it off throughout the day lets you have the satisfaction of seeing how much progress you are making. Review what you’ve accomplished at the end of each day.
3. Don’t spend all day in your pyjamas
Shower and get dressed at the usual time you prepare for work. Why bother getting dressed when you probably won’t leave the house anyway? The old saying ‘feel smart, work smart’ applies here. Your appearance affects your energy level, efficiency and quality of work. Don’t neglect the way you look just because you’re working from home.
4. Take regular breaks
It’s tempting to work long hours at home without taking breaks. However, it’s still important to take breaks. Work in time blocks of thirty minutes or one hour at a time before taking a short break. Be careful not to overstretch your break, you may lose concentration when you get back to work. A five or ten-minute break should be enough. Exercise a bit, listen to music, walk around the house, or go to a different room during breaks.
5. Keep in touch with colleagues
Working from home can be a lonely task. Some people struggle with isolation. Use Skype, Teams, Basecamp, Zoom, Whatsapp and other collaboration tools to keep in touch with your colleagues. Remember to avoid office gossip while chatting with your colleagues. Focus on completing projects.
6. Put your mobile phone out of reach
Your phone notification alert goes off. You check it, then decide to scroll through your email. Then you check the news, then Facebook… before you know it, you’ve spent ten minutes watching trivial videos. If you don’t need your phone for work reasons, put it on silent mode and out of the way, where you can’t reach it.
7. Ignore your housework
Don’t impulsively decide to clean your bathroom while working from home. If you were at the office, would you come home to clean the bathroom? House chores can wait until you finish working for the day. You can’t be productive combining housework with office work. Finish one, then face the other.
8. Good luck with the kids
This is probably the hardest part. Only a superhuman can concentrate while the kids scream and play around the house. That’s why it’s important to have your own space, a room preferably. If there are other people in the house, you may ask them to supervise the kids and ensure that they don’t distract you. You can also give the kids assignments or games to keep them busy while you work. Every household is different, you have to figure out when and how to work without your kids distracting you.
9. Be safe from viruses
Stay safe from COVID-19. But as you work from home, don’t forget the other virus–the computer virus. Follow the same cybersecurity measures that you apply at work. Install up-to-date anti-virus software on your home computer, use strong passwords and encrypt documents where necessary. Alert your company if you suspect that your computer, email, work portal or data has been compromised.
10. When work finishes, finish work
If you normally finish work at the office by 5 p.m., then finish work at home by 5 p.m. Shut the laptop down, switch it off and head out of the room. You can now check your phone, browse the Internet, play with the kids or do all the things you set aside while working. Once you get used to working from home, you may discover that you’re getting more things done at home than you did at the office.