With social distancing being the theme of the current COVID-19 pandemic, you may be faced with the possibility of working from home for the first time ever. While it’s a challenge to change routines and leave familiar working environments, there are things you can do to minimize the hit to your productivity and mental health.
If you find yourself faced with the reality of working from home, here are some tips that may help you with the transition of turning home life into a work-at-home-life.
Set up a comfortable working space
Try to mimic the space you have at your office. If your desk at the office is in a quiet and neutrally decorated setting, then make your space at home as quiet and neutral as possible.
Unless you work out of your company’s lunchroom, resist working at your kitchen table. Your kitchen table is where you typically eat, and it’s not very ergonomic. If you have a family, the kitchen is where you’re likely to be the most distracted.
As much as it may be calling your name, avoid using the living room couch as a workspace for the same reasons as the kitchen table. If you can, bring your office chair home with you, or buy a good quality one for your home.
Overall, try to create a space that’s distanced away from the hectic areas of your house. You’ll want to preserve that divide between homelife and work-life and be productive with minimal distraction.
Pack your lunch
Whenever I’m working from home, I still pack my lunch as if I’m going into the office. This practice means putting all the silverware, dishes and snacks that I would typically bring with me.
Packing your lunch maintains the routine of your workday. It also ensures that you aren’t tempted to binge with the abundance of food you have at home. Preparing your lunch ahead of time saves time as you won’t be interrupted in trying to think of something to eat and then preparing it when lunchtime rolls around.
Get out and move regularly
Above all, body movement is one of the most important things you can do when working at home. During times of stress, movement is your body’s way of expending it. With anxiety caused by working from home for the first time and the uncertainty of when a normal life will resume, it can be a very trying time.
Take regular breaks to stretch, peer out the window, and unwind your mind. Stretching is a great way to relieve the tension that is building up in your muscles.
Go for a brisk 15-minute walk outside at least twice per day to clear your lungs and give your immune system a boost. If you have a dog, take them for a walk, they will certainly appreciate the extra attention!
Maintaining movement is so critical to keeping our mind flowing and our workday going. Ridding your body and mind of stress is so vital right now, and should be a top priority.
Maintain work-home boundaries.
Whether you are a fan of working from home or not, it is vital to maintain boundaries when you mix home life with personal life. Ensure that you only work your regular office hours. Avoid burning out, and keep a divide between your personal and business lives. Burning out from work is much easier when you are at home as you can’t get away from it.
Explain to small children of your work hours and the importance of what you are trying to do. They may be confused as to why you’re home. A little patience with them can go a long way to helping diffuse any potential meltdowns. Keep in mind, it’s their house too, and everyone has to meet in the middle as to what level of noise and busyness is acceptable for everyone.
Keep track of your hours.
Your work may or may not require you to track your hours. If not, when working from home, it may be a good idea to track the hours that you work on a spreadsheet. With distractions, you may have to piecemeal your workday, and by tracking your time, you’re not left wondering what tasks you were working on and when.
There are a variety of time tracking tools out there, Dovico provides a weekly timesheet template that you can download for free. Tracking your time is a simple way to be accountable to anyone who may ask what you have been working on. It’s also a great way to feel accomplished when you look back on the work that you had completed over the past week.
You’ve got this!
Unless you are a seasoned work-at-home pro, it is completely normal to not be fully productive as you are at the office. It’s not the same environment, not the same people, and not the same routine. This drop in your productivity may add to your already elevated stress level.
Taking time to set up your temporary home office, establishing boundaries and keeping yourself active will go a long way in helping you ease into the transition.
Don’t forget, you’re not alone, we’re all in this together!
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