At ALRA, working from home has always been a part of our business model, so in terms of shifting in what has become a very new dynamic for many people, we haven’t felt too great a change. A lot of people however are finding it difficult to make the shift and that’s likely because working from home and staying productive is actually a learned skill. There are a lot of distractions or potential distractions that you must learn to ignore that you just don’t get in an office environment.
So how do you work from home and stay on task? Here are our top 8 tips.
1. Get Dressed
Sound basic? Well it is. Getting dressed for your workday sets the tone for your productivity. Staying in your PJs all day sends the message to your brain that you’re in lounge and not work mode. So whilst it sounds incredibly comfortable – get up, get dressed and get ready to work.
2. Set up a Dedicated Work Space
A defined workspace is a must as it helps you concentrate and kicks your brain into ‘work mode’. This could be as simple as a desk and a chair, but it needs to be in a space not usually reserved for another aspect of your life. I.e. sleeping.
3. Write a Defined ‘To Do’ List / Schedule
If a daily schedule is something you would normally live by in the office, then chances are it should be what you live by at home. It’s incredibly easy to get distracted working from home so a schedule / to do list helps to keep you on task.
4. Take Breaks / Get Some Fresh Air
Linked to your schedule should be break time. Working from home can be isolating, monotonous and one dimensional. Taking breaks and stepping away from your laptop or phone helps your brain to reset and refocus for your next set of tasks. This could be as easy as stepping outside for some fresh air or a little bit of sun (who doesn’t enjoy Vitamin D therapy?).
We strongly advise that you also get out for a walk (socially distanced of course). Mental health when you’re isolated is very important and just getting out in a way that protects you and others is vital.
5. Remove Distractions
Removing yourself from potential distractions in your house is a vital part of staying motivated and on task. If when you get up there is a messy kitchen blocking your brain from getting in to gear, do a quick clean and tidy up and remove it as a distraction. If you have the TV on, turn it off (or turn the volume down if you like background noise to work). If you have social media open, close it.
Social media (especially during a time of crisis) is the biggest productivity killer. If you have a need to stay on top of what is happening, limit it to 10 minute blocks, once or twice a day. The news will still be there even after you finish work.
6. Separate yourself from your Kids where Possible
This is probably one of the biggest challenge that people are facing working from home if they have kids. Normally, kids would be at school – but in this environment, they are at home, potentially bored and definitely distracting.
The key is to pre-plan. If your kids are school age, where possible plan a schedule the night before that mimics their school day and helps them to stay in a structure that you can mirror with your own. This means you work whilst they work, you have a break whilst they have a break. This allows for interaction and time together whilst also sending your kids the signal that you both need to stay on track throughout the day.
Younger children are slightly more difficult but it is also still possible. Again, having some sort of structure is key. If there are two parents at home, alternate times to allow you both to work and both to spend time with your child. Pre-plan age appropriate activities that promote independent play and whilst you don’t want to plonk them in front of a screen all day, remember that some screen time during what is an unprecedented situation will probably help the sanity of all involved.
7. Talk to your Colleagues
Take it from our Head of Marketing, Beth – “As someone that works from home A LOT, I can tell you that it can feel very isolating. Sometimes I think I talk my spouse’s ear off after they’re home from work just because I’ve been craving meaningful human interaction”.
The cure is obviously to make sure you talk to your colleagues when needed. Instead of asking a question via email, give them a quick call or Skype call – the interaction will do you a world of good.
8. Finish Your Day
When you’re in the office, at the end of the day you would usually tidy your desk and write your to do list for the next day correct? If you have any rituals you do at work, make sure you do them at home. This will help set up the next day and help you switch your brain from “work mode” to “home mode”.