Chances are by now, you may have realized it’s not that easy to work from home efficiently.
Our B Squared team is used to working from home, and that means we’ve learned a thing or two along the way. Specifically about what works and what … doesn’t.
Read on for tips on how you can work from home efficiently.
It can be tempting to roll out of bed and get the workday going in your jammies. But turns out, that’s not the best strategy.
The thing is, it’s hard to be efficient when you’re dressed for bed. I know when I stay in the clothes I’ve slept in, I just want to sit on the couch and watch The Office for the eight-billionth time.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to put on slacks you’d wear to the office, or even jeans for that matter.
Even changing into a clean pair of yoga pants and a comfy sweater can make a world of difference. I always try to get ready to the point where I would be comfortable leaving the house at any moment if needed.
With the amount of social distancing we have been encouraged to practice the last few weeks, I have to admit I haven’t been following my own rule. And I’ve certainly seen the consequences of that. Not only have I been less productive, but I’ve also seen a huge drop in my mood.
I recently decided to put on a full-face of make-up and an outfit I might wear for a lunch date with a friend. The difference was apparent immediately. I felt better about myself and therefore was able to work far more efficiently than I had been the previous several days.
Create A Dedicated Workspace
Another thing that doesn’t make for an efficient day of working from home? Spending it on the couch.
Not only will you be dealing with constant distractions, but by the end of the day, your back and neck and will be screaming. Trust me, I know.
Whether you decide to set up shop at the dining room table or in your home office, having a dedicated space for work has a number of benefits.
First, it helps you get into the “work zone.” Setting a boundary around where you’ll be doing work helps to create a separation between your personal and professional life. When I first started working from home, it felt like I was always working. That’s because, at the end of the day, I would bring my laptop downstairs and answer emails and other messages on the couch. It wasn’t long before I realized that habit was not beneficial for my mental health.
Developing a specific work area also helps communicate with others in the house that you are in the work zone and should be treated as such. Working from a particular space allows you to set guidelines about when you are available for chatting, making meals, etc. It’s not foolproof, but it’s certainly helpful.
Take Frequent Breaks
It can be far too easy to sit down at your computer at 8 a.m. and not look up until 2 p.m. Chances are if you were in an office with others you’d take breaks to get water, chat with coworkers, etc. For some reason, those water and bathroom breaks don’t always come naturally when working from home.
My personal goal is to get up and move once an hour. Whether that’s to take a bathroom break, grab a snack, or just walk up and down the stairs a few times, the movement will do wonders for your body and mental health.
Lunch breaks are another aspect of office life that can get placed on the back burner when working from home. Make it a point to break for lunch at a designated time each day, and don’t bring your work with you.
Another fun way to break up the day? Do a 20-minute yoga flow or take your dog for a walk. Whatever gets your body moving!
If you have a furry friend, taking a break to take them out for a walk or a quick bathroom trip before a call can buy you some interruption-free time!
Set A Schedule
When you work from home, just winging it doesn’t always work. It’s easy to get distracted by the dishes or the pile of laundry that needs to be washed. And before you know it, it’s noon and you haven’t gotten anything done work-wise.
In order to work from home efficiently, it’s important to sketch out an idea of what you want your schedule to be. What time do you want to start? Are there tasks you want to get out of the way first thing in the morning?
I aim to start work at 8 a.m., with the intent of jumping off around 4 p.m. While that can fluctuate slightly day to day, having that rough outline helps me pace my schedule appropriately.
The more you develop your routine, the more productive you’ll be when working from home.
When You’re Done, Be Done
Working from home can blur the lines between your personal and professional lives. Once you’ve signed off for the night, REALLY sign off. Disable any work notifications on your phone, and don’t keep checking your email (unless you absolutely need to.)
Separating your personal life is even more important in times of heightened stress, as we are currently experiencing globally. Just because you’re always near your work, doesn’t mean you have to always be working. In fact, if you don’t allow yourself to escape, your efficiency will not only decline but so will your mental health.
Let your coworkers know when you are signing off, and then tell them to text your cell phone with any emergencies. Then pack up your stuff and shut off those office lights!
In summary, don’t treat working from home as a free for all. In order to work from home efficiently, you need some kind of structure. Once you develop that, you’ll likely find that the flexibility remote work provides will result in you being more productive than usual. And, chances are you’ll feel better mentally, too!
Leah K. Williams
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