Widespread closures of offices and schools have caught many of us off guard. Many of us are now in unfamiliar territory: working from home. Some find it calming and comfortable, but others find it distracting and difficult to be productive. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re a seasoned pro, here are some strategies to work from home.
Yes, practice an “attitude of gratitude.” Your boss may have required you to work from home. Or, you may have had to talk your boss into the idea if it was the only way your kids could be supervised during the day. In either event, be grateful.
Be thankful you have a job and your boss is paying you to work. Stop noticing lack of access to the conveniences at the office, and be grateful for your health and the opportunity to work from home. For some people, working from home is not even an option.
Creating a schedule, even something basic, will help keep you focus on priorities. It doesn’t need to be something rigid. Just make an outline of how you’ll break down your time when you work from home. There will be more non-work tasks distracting you. You’ll possibly see laundry baskets filled with clothes, unwashed dishes, or children needing help with their schoolwork.
With or without the COVID-19 outbreak, I make it a habit to focus on just three priority tasks each day. If try to tackle a list of 87 tasks, the really important ones don’t get done.
If you are used to a traditional workplace, you may find the need to create a new plan for continuity with co-workers. Perhaps you’ll need to create task lists or use teleconferencing software to brainstorm and discuss. Some co-workers may not have the same technological tools, so work may need to be split differently to avoid tasks falling through the cracks. Communication is critical.
Believe me, having an entire team working remotely is no picnic for the boss, either! My entire team is now working remotely, and that means I need to adapt. Again, communication is critical.
Just like at a more traditional workplace, getting up and taking a break is important when you work from home. It will help improve your brain function and increase your productivity. Taking just a few minutes to stretch, getting a cup of coffee, or even chatting with someone else will help clear your mind.
Breaks from a computer screen or phone are also important. The Mayo Clinic recommends the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, you should look away from you screen at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
When you work from home it can sometimes mean an even more sedentary lifestyle than traditional office life. Even small things we tend to overlook, like walking from a parking lot to a building, get eliminated, so it’s important to find ways to maintain a balanced lifestyle and get some exercise.
My YMCA is closed, and probably yours is, too. So, try getting exercise in a different way. You could get up early to walk the dog. Take a break at midday to walk around the block, and notice the benefits to both your mind and your body. Or, take an afternoon stroll before dinner with a loved one.
This pandemic is uncharted territory for all of us. Remember that you need to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. No doubt, you’re uneasy about what tomorrow will bring. Music can help with anxiety you may be feeling, in addition to hypnosis.
Working from home is not a walk in the park. It requires flexibility in addition to discipline. And in the wake of the pandemic, there are even more challenges, so give yourself a break. Communicate with your employer and co-workers. Prioritize tasks and make sure you’re aware of expectations. Above all, remember that many people are doing this for the first time!
Do you work from home? What are your strategies to work from home effectively? Have you found things that do or don’t work? Share your own tips below, and pass this post on to a friend who might be working from home!