One consequence of being in the midst of a pandemic is that we are now mostly working from home. Although working remotely is nothing new, for many who have never experienced remote work, it can be quite a big change. Working from home has many great advantages such as not having to commute to work, your schedule becoming a bit more flexible and being able to work in comfy clothes. However, there are naturally many more distractions in your home than in your office as your home is not designed for work but rather to unwind and relax after a long day at the office. With everything happening so fast you may not have had the time to set up properly and adjust to this new way of working. If you’re currently sitting in your bed fighting off the urge to scroll needlessly on social media and binging Netflix instead of getting some work done - you’ve come to the right place. Luckily for you, this article is written by someone who has spent the last 5 years working from home, who’s done a lot of trial and error in the fight against procrastination, and who knows what it takes to create the perfect work environment in isolation! Here are some tips:
1. Organise Your Space
Find the quietest spot in your home, if possible far from the TV and set up your desk there. You read that right, a desk - no more working from bed! If you’re can’t focus in complete silence, try listening to some background music. If you like classical music, this is a good time to play it as several studies have shown that listening to Bach, Beethoven and Mozart can increase your focus. If classical isn’t your thing just make sure it’s instrumental music as anything with singing will be too distracting. I would personally recommend artists like Emancipator or tuning in to lo-fi hip hop youtube channels. You should also declutter your desk keeping only what you need, get rid of those old papers and empty coffee mugs! Having stuff you don’t need on your desk can clutter your mind and decrease your productivity. That being said, this doesn’t mean you should make your whole workspace look completely dull! Feel free to personalise it as you want the space to feel inviting.
2. Remove All Distractions
We’ve already established that you should set up your desk far from the TV and stay out of bed, however, the TV is not the only distraction you will need to manage while working from home. Make sure you mute social media notifications on your phone and if you’re someone who gets distracted surfing the web consider using internet blocking software. Stay Focused or Freedom are two internet blocking tools that allow you to block yourself from accessing certain websites for set periods of time. Some phones will also have this function embedded.
3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
Despite having a more flexible schedule while you work from home, you should aim for consistency in terms of when your workday starts and when your workday ends. If you don’t have a clear schedule you can easily end up overworking yourself as it is harder to separate your personal life and work life when they are both taking place in your home. Although you may get the feeling you’re being super productive. In the long run, this will impact your productivity negatively and can even cause burnouts. Make sure you’re taking enough breaks and turn off e-mails when you’re done working for the day. If you’re really struggling to stop working, try setting appointments for yourself for after work. Something like a piano lesson or gym workout at 6 PM every day can be a good way to set the schedule in stone- it may sound silly but it will force you to stop working as you will shift your focus towards other goals.
Working from home can, therefore, become both a blessing in disguise and a challenge. Don’t despair if it takes you a little bit of time to get everything set up - this is a big change for everyone and it’s normal to feel unproductive in the first few days. It is, however, essential that you take the time to organise your workspace, remove all distractions as well as establishing a tight schedule in order to increase your productivity. Establishing your daily and weekly goals, and keeping in touch with your team is also useful when working from home. In these difficult times, we are here to help each other, so effective communication will ensure you stay on track of business goals and make progress in your work. Organising a fun group activity with your colleagues “after work” will also help you unwind together, release some tension, and make sure the atmosphere in your new “virtual office” is good!