Stuck in a rut with this work from home situation? Read on for our top productivity and sanity-saving tips!
Estimates suggest as many as 60 to 70 million Americans may work from home at some point during the coronavirus pandemic, which leaves a lot of people scratching their head (or pulling their hair out!) while trying to figure out how to make it all work. Since you’ve had a few months to get acquainted with the work from home life, we’re here with some tips and reminders to making your work and home life as stress free as possible!
You’ve likely noticed that working from home brings with it mental and physical challenges. Refresh your work from home vibe with these top tips.
First, get yourself in the right frame of mind. This is not going to be an easy or hassle-free process. Know that these are unchartered waters, and there will be growing pains along the way. Dr. Diana Gionta author of From Stressed to Centered is a proponent for assessing personal boundaries at work, and recommends the following process, that is crucial now more than ever:
- Know your limits
- Pay attention to your feelings
- Give yourself permission to set boundaries
- Consider your environment
Have you given up working from a desk and moved yourself to the couch or even the bed?! Let’s change that! Prepare a work from home space where you can envision yourself spending multiple hours per day. Identify a dedicated and comfortable workspace. Find yourself a chair and a work surface. Don’t spend much time worrying about the background, because you can easily change that on your video conference calls. (Check out this article that tells you how!) Your dedicated workspace can change! No one wants to sit in the same spot day after day. Don’t be afraid to change up this dedicated space when you need a change of scenery—but, don’t spend all day in bed!
Do you feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions? We have some advice for getting your groove back when it comes to job-related productivity at home.
- Schedule out time blocks in your calendar to work on emails, projects, etc. This will ensure that others don’t fill your day with meetings and leave you no time to meet project demands and timelines. You can always move these time blocks around if crucial meetings come up.
- Take advantage of the fragmented breaks in your schedule throughout the day. These breaks usually come in the form of 15 to 30-minute slots. How many emails can you respond to in 15 minutes? Need to ask a coworker a question? Give them a call.
- Emails can be a major time drain! Instead of sending an email for what once would have been a quick office conversation, try a phone call or video conference.
- Take breaks! Just because you’re working from home right now doesn’t mean you have to constantly be working while in your house. Check out this Psychology Today article to find out why work breaks are so important.
- Suzanne Gargis, Vice President, Human Resources, at Mechanicsville-based Owens & Minor has had to adjust to working remotely while continuing to manage teammates located all over the world. Suzanne provides a wealth of knowledge when it comes to setting yourself up for success while working from home: “Maintain a consistent routine – wake up at the same time each day and prepare for the workday in the same way that you would if you were going into the office. Utilize technology to the fullest extent to interact through video as much as possible. Maintain team meetings connecting through video. Plan additional times that have nothing to do with work such as virtual happy hours, lunches or birthday celebrations. Stay engaged during meetings and take advantage of every opportunity to connect with colleagues through cross-functional work. Take time for yourself each day for a walk or lunch outside to enjoy a sunny day. These will re- energize you and allow you to maintain your focus throughout the rest of the day. Lastly, make sure to end your workday at a consistent time when possible each day. Otherwise you will no longer be able to separate your work life from your home life.”
- Identify high and low priority tasks. The reality is, you’re not likely to be as productive at home as you were at work, especially with kids around. Identifying those high priority tasks will help you stay on track each day.
We can’t forget about the other areas of our life! By this point, your kids are probably over their homeschool routine and trying to rebel every chance they get! Take a look at these top tips for household productivity:
- Try to get back to a structured daily schedule, even if it means abandoning the first schedule you so thoughtfully put together. Items to include: kids’ activities, meal planning, household chores & who will complete them, critical work times when kids will need to be supervised by someone else, etc. Check out this Today show article for “realistic” kids’ quarantine schedules.
- Divide up childcare between both spouses.
- Do you have an older child(ren) who could supervise the younger one(s)? Consider having your older child(ren) supervise a craft or movie so you can have some time to focus on other things.
- Alison Fallecker, founder and creative director for Ashland, VA based Novus Creative, is used to working from home. What isn’t so normal? Having her sons home with her every day. Here, Alison explains how she’s had to shift responsibilities at home: “Structure is my friend. I’ve always had structure working from home by myself, but I had to reshape it to meet the needs of homeschooling my kids and working on projects for my clients. The kids know we start school at 8am and we’re done by lunch. My clients know that they can reach me uninterrupted after 1pm because my sitter (aka sweet teenager from the neighborhood) has arrived to play with the kids. My husband (who is also now working from home) and I communicate on our schedules and workloads in case he needs to step in and help in the morning. Our days are way more productive when the whole family knows and sticks to some semblance of routine.”
We’re in unusual times, but that doesn’t mean we have to let chaos rule our lives. We hope these productivity tips will help you get a better handle on your “work from home” reality.
The opinions and information provided by the guests in this article do not constitute advice from, or the opinion of, Sonabank.
Number of Americans Working from Home: https://www.investors.com/news/technology/working-from-home-will-social-distance-outlast-coronavirus-emergency/
Dr. Gionta From Stressed to Centered: https://www.careercontessa.com/advice/healthy-boundaries-at-work/
Changing Video Conference Backgrounds: https://www.techradar.com/news/how-to-hide-your-background-in-video-conferencing