As we adjust to life during the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans have made the transition to full-time remote work. People who would typically spend their weeks in an office environment are now running teams from the comfort of their kitchen. And while many hit the ground running on remote work, countless more have struggled to adjust.
The truth is that remote work is not a choice that everyone would make. For those struggling to adapt, it is OK to give yourself space to be uncomfortable. This is why we put together this list of work-from-home tips to help you succeed. These suggestions might go a long way towards keeping your productivity on point when working remotely.
Keep Your Workspace (and Home) Clutter-Free
Having a clean workspace can do more than keep you focused. A Harvard Business Review article examined the adverse effects of clutter on anxiety and stress levels. Our minds like order, and seeing a mess on our desk can drain our mental energy. One study showed a clutter-free work environment led to increased productivity and information processing.
In other words, more mess means more stress.
But when you work from home, your office space is more than just your desk. Even if you can’t see that pile of unopened mail on the counter, they can still contribute to procrastination. It pays to spend a bit of your weekend tidying up your living and home office area before your workweek begins.
Set Work Hours and Stick to Your Schedule
Midday may seem like a great time to get your errands out of the way. However, those quick H-E-B runs can quickly turn into multi-hour affairs. By the time you get back home, you’re too exhausted to get any real work done.
Carve out a dedicated work time where you focus on tasks as if you were employed at a traditional workplace. Don’t forget to let others know about your schedule. Setting boundaries for phone calls and Zoom dates will cut back on enticing daytime invitations and similar distractions.
Creating work hours also helps you cut back on “work creep.” These are the little bits of your job that sneak their way into your personal life. If you don’t have a set schedule, you may be tempted to always be on the clock. This will only further blur the lines of your work-life balance.
Remember, just because you work from home doesn’t mean that you’re always at work. Make boundaries between your work and personal hours and stick to them.
Give Yourself a Break
Stepping away from the desk may seem a little counterproductive. But the truth is, giving yourself ample breaks throughout your workday boosts your motivation. These breaks also prevent decision fatigue and can increase your productivity and creativity.
If you find yourself stuck on a particular issue, a quick stroll around the block can recharge your brain. You may even find yourself with a fresh perspective when you sit back down. Short breaks like this also make finishing a task rewarding and provide you with something to anticipate.
Create a Commute and a Routine
Nobody likes sitting in traffic, but that daily commute was also a time to reflect. Give yourself some daily commute before logging into work to clear your mind and prepare yourself for the workday. It can be as simple as a brisk walk around the neighborhood or a short drive to the gas station.
Routines like this signal your brain that it’s time to work. Some people find that their morning habits set the tone for the whole day. Other traditional morning routines like waking up to an alarm, eating breakfast, and getting dressed are beneficial to freelancers.
Get Comfortable, but Not Too Comfortable
As a freelancer, you’re likely spending hours a day sitting at your computer. This means your level of comfort can impact the work you’re doing. Posture has a surprising effect on many things, including hormone release, energy levels, and yes, productivity.
Don’t settle for your uncomfortable kitchen chair. Splurge on an ergonomic office chair that’ll help your posture and prevent an achy body. Be careful not to take the comfort level too far, though. As nice as it sounds to work from your bed, this can lead to a decrease in your quality of sleep.
Limit Your Distractions
This tip may seem a little obvious, but it’s the most important one. Even the smallest distractions around your workspace eat away at your workday. If you find yourself getting distracted by social media, put your phone in another room.
Start by turning off notifications from your devices. If that does not work, set up a website blocker to prevent you from checking your notifications every ten minutes.
Utilize a Planner or Task Management Apps
It can be hard to remember everything that needs to get done. Take the load off your mind by using a planner or a task management program to help organize your to-dos. Having a birds’ eye view of what needs to be done will also help you prioritize correctly.
Experiment to Find What Works for You
Sadly, not everything in this article will be the magic bullet for your work from home challenges. It might take a little experimentation to find a routine that works for you. Find the conditions that you work best under and aim to create those every day in your home workspace. Soon you’ll be on your way to finishing up your tasks.
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