Remote Work Hacks
How to Stay Productive While Staying Home
For those of us lucky enough to have work to do during the time of COVID-19, it may be hard to actually get any work done. What started as a fantasy of more sleep, more time with family or more time for oneself can quickly become a nightmare for personal productivity. Even with all the time in the world it can be easy to find yourself procrastinating a to-do list; whether it be one more episode in a Netflix binge, an entire load of laundry or a 4 hour social media blackhole.
The most important thing to understand is that successful working from home is all about balance. You don’t need to beat yourself up every time you take time for yourself and your mental health, just make sure you set yourself up to continue work afterwards. With the right balance of work and play, all of us can thrive in this quarantine instead of being stuck in a rut.
Here are our ‘hacks’ on how to stay productive while working from home.
Set a Schedule You Can Maintain
Coming from a set daily routine can be jarring to our internal clocks. It's a common misconception that people who work from home are available for recreation during work hours. Not having a routine can mess with our sleep, our eating, our exercise and our overall focus! When your working and relaxing environments are combined, it's helpful to create a schedule to differentiate between the two. Check out this ayurvedic daily routine!
It took me several years to figure out how to set these boundaries, however once I did, it had a huge impact at lowering my stress levels. Holding myself to specific periods of work a day makes me feel productive. When I feel productive and on top of my work, relaxing afterwards always feels better.
Generally, awaking with the sun and beginning your relaxation and pre-bed routine at sunset allows for adequate sleep and aligns you with the circadian rhythm. Block out a period where you can commit to work with no distractions. From there, you can add in time for health (yoga/ fitness), self-care, and social time with friends, family, or online groups.
It is okay if you falter on the schedule once in a while. Give yourself the freedom to spend a day watching Netflix. The schedule is there for you when you return, to keep yourself on track. Most importantly, when you are not working, shut down your electronic devices, so you can truly unwind without distractions. If you must use your phone or computer, tune in to one of many apps to aid in relaxation, such as Moment, Offtime, or Breakfree.
When creating your schedule, try to use the same language you would if you were working at the office, you can even refer to your home work space as your office. That language creates a distinct separation between work and play. For an example schedule check out our other article all about staying healthy and happy during this unprecedented time!
When you have a deadline looming, it's easy to spend time doing almost anything else. I know I personally have had a hard time being distracted by the "to-dos" around the house. What may have been your least favorite house chore may now be a means for you to prolong getting to work! Don’t let a pile of dirty clothes take precedent during your scheduled work time.
So, how do you avoid mid-day cleaning sprees? One suggestion is to position your desk or workspace with your back to the mess so that it's ‘out of sight out of mind.’ Even better, if you have the space, set up a partition to actually separate your workspace from living space. It may not be the office you are used to but having a ‘different’ space for work may help your brain adjust better to working from home.
Likewise, set aside time to tidy the house. I like to do this before I get settled at the desk. I also use this time to organize my thoughts and formulate my list of work priorities for the day. This way, once you sit at your desk, you can adhere to your focused work plan without domestic distractions.
Don't Shift Where You Sleep
Having a sleeping space is just as important as a workspace. When we enter our sleep space our body and mind will be triggered to wind down. Keeping your sleep space as a place of comfort is essential during this time. It may be tempting to work from bed but try to avoid this! Doing so brings stress into what should be a peaceful area.
Start your day with self care to maximize productivity throughout the day. This could mean meditation, exercise, reading, making a cup of tea while performing your skin care routine, whatever you need to feel good in the morning. Use this time to center yourself before the workday ahead. I personally like to write down 5 things in my gratitude journal every morning. This way, I stay optimistic towards life and focus on what I do have rather than what I don’t.
Getting ready for work has also shown to be successful in raising productivity while working from home. Try to maintain your routine even though you aren't traveling to the office. This way, when you eventually return to the office it will be a smooth transition! Also, as nice as it sounds to work in your PJs, don't. Having a clear separation between work and rest is key.
Take advantage of the ergonomic flexibility of working from home. Ergonomics is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as the science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely. Basically, ergonomics is all about increasing productivity and reducing discomfort.
Many things can be done in a home office to increase the ergonomic design. This can be anything from the angle of your computer monitor, the location of your keyboard or the height of your desk. Take note of whether your back hurts at the end of the day or if your eyes feel strained. These things can be lessened using ergonomics. A video from the WSJ below explains exactly how to set up your desk for greatest success while working.
Another thing that can be done is to set up different work stations to keep your body healthy. Ergonomics is also about the need for movement throughout the day. A balance between sitting and standing is a proven way to keep yourself active during the workday. A height-adjustable desk is ideal, but not all can afford to invest in ergonomic furniture. Create your own sit/stand options!
Luckily there are plenty of DIY standing desk articles and videos on youtube, like this one from C-net.com.
The last thing that can be done is to take breaks to stand up and stretch. Not only does doing this keep you active but also can be used as a tool to refocus yourself when your productivity falters. (infographic on stretch routine?)
Un-spin your Wheels
Sometimes after everything we do to try to remain productive, it just isn’t happening. When you feel stifled or stuck on a work task it's ok. Take a break. Moving away from the task can help you to unwind and come back with a fresh perspective. Use the time to go to the grocery store or to prep dinner for the night. This way you remain productive but get a chance to get your mind off work for a bit.
If you had a commute, try buffering your work time and home time with something that helps you to transition from one to the other. Take a walk, do some yoga, meditation, pranayama, a bike ride. The options are endless, but taking at least 20 minutes doing something else can help you to make that work/home shift smoother.
In the end, working from home can be a big transition. What’s valuable to remember is that you are fortunate enough to still have the opportunity to work. Even if productivity is not at an all time high during this time, the little things you can do for yourself will make the shift smoother.
Use this time to create your workspace exactly how you want it to be! Establishing healthy habits is the best thing we can do for ourselves right now. When the world heals and the stay-at-home mode of our existence lifts, we will be able to bring those healthy habits along with us to continue our adventure!