COVID-19 is changing life as we know it. Albeit, temporarily, we as a society are collectively navigating a giant pivot and switch move on our day to day lives. In light of recent developments, many places of work have officially mandated employees to work from home for the foreseeable weeks ahead. I am not a health care provider, expert, or physician. I am not here to offer health advice. However, as someone who has been working from home full time for the last 3.5 years, I consider myself an “official” expert in working from home. Any step outside our normal routines can be a challenge to navigate. Being an “expert” on working from home, I hope you find these tips helpful and that you are able to maintain some semblance of normal in the midst of uncertainty.
How to productively Work from home
Get dressed for work
When I started working from home I fell into the all to the easy trap of wearing sweat pants day in and day out. You’re at home, why not be comfy right? Unfortunately, at the end of the day I was finding myself feeling anxious, and struggling self-esteem. When you work from home it’s important to break up your day and separate your home life from work. Something as simple as getting dressed for work can put you in the mental state of doing work. Versus the alternative of wearing sweatpants or cozy jammies all day which might put you in the mood for more of a Netflix and Chill situation.
I believe your outfit can greatly impact your mood. Sweats are for relaxing, lounging, cozying up on the weekends. By getting dressed for work every day, I saw a huge improvement in my mood and was ready to conquer my day.
Stick to a schedule
When telling people I work from home, I’m often met with comments like, “oh wow you’re so lucky, it must be nice to do what you want all day.” Or people ask what I watch on Netflix while I’m at home…what?! I treat my work hours as such…I work.
Having a disciplined schedule is important to my productivity and again, separating my home from work. Because of this, every day usually looks the same for me. Just as you need to be in the office by a certain time, I too need to be in my home office at a certain time. Catching up on this season of Grey’s Anatomy throughout the day is not part of my work from home routine.
Find a designated space in your home to work
Much like getting dressed for the day, having an established workspace is important for my productivity. A home office might not be possible for you due to space or resources, but you can still designate a spot in your house to set up camp. Whether it be the kitchen table, a corner desk, or home office, make sure you have a dedicated space to do your work (ideally, not the couch!).
Stay on task, try these resources!
Working from home poses a new set of distractions, you may want to check out these tips to keep you on task. With the current events, many of you are likely working from home with your kiddos being home from school. Because of this, it may be hard to 100% follow all of these tips while having to provide structure to your children’s day to day lives as well. However, by implementing one or two of these tips, you may be more equipped to successfully navitage working from home while staying on track.
Make a to-do list:
Making a list of to-dos can help recoup if you are side-tracked throughout the day. There are many online task managers (some free) available. I love using Trello to keep myself on track because you can create “boards” for different needs. You can even share your boards with co-workers to track team progress, notes, etc.
One of my favorite Trello features is the Outlook plugin. If I receive an email that requires follow up or details information for a project I need to complete, I am able to “pin” that email to one of my Trello boards and assign a due date for myself.
By using my Outlook calendar, I set aside alotted time each day for various tasks. Many email providers have features like “categories” or “labels” to assign specific colors and names to different categories your emails might fall under. As a project focused emails come in, I assign them to their respective category. I then schedule time on my Outlook calendar and categorize it appropriately.
Many of my projects are Amazon related. If I receive an email about Amazon requiring a chunk of my time, I might schedule 30 minutes to an hour and assign it in the yellow color I’ve designated for Amazon. Reoccuring time blocks are also important for productivity. If you have reoccurring daily or weekly tasks set them as a reoccurring appointment to ensure you stay on task.
Effectively work with your teams:
Working from home, away from your co-workers means you need to sharpen up those communication skills. From email communication, holding remote conference calls, or keeping teams on task, there are several tools to help in this area!
- Video chat: no surprise here…communicating face to face is much more effective than a phone call. There are several tools out there to help you hold multi-caller video chats: Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype are great places to start.
- Project Management Tools: Not working right next to your co-workers means you have to take extra measures to communicate progress on various tasks and team projects. My team uses the project management database, Airtable to help communicate project details. Airtable offers a variety of customizable spreadsheets that are highly flexible and packed full of features making communication with teams remotely a breeze.
My working style might differ from yours and some of these tips may not work for your schedule. Whether you take one of these suggestions or try them all I hope you find a way to navigate the current climate and have some resemblance of normalcy when it comes to your work.