As authorities continue to grapple with the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies have opted to keep most of their employees working from home. While most workers were optimistic about the new work-from-home setup, and initial trends show that remote work improved productivity, many workers are now slowly realising that working from home presents a different set of challenges.
In this video, I offer three practical tips on how you can stay productive in spite of the challenges of working from home.
Working from home provides many advantages. It reduces commute times—and if you live in the suburbs and commute to the central business district every day, that’s a lot of time saved. And since you’re working from home, it frees you from the distractions of chitchatting with your co-workers throughout the day?
Well, if you’ve been working from home these past months, you’ll understand that working from home presents a different set of challenges and distractions. This is especially true if you live with family and have small children running about.
Productivity experts say that the challenges associated with working from home comes from losing our ability to compartmentalise our daily life. Pre-pandemic, we work in an office and then come home to relax and rest. The change in environment or the shift in context allowed us to separate our work from our home responsibilities.
However, when we start working from home, we work and relax in the same environment, which becomes distracting and disorienting. When you work, live and relax in the same space, it’s easy to get lost in the long list of things that occupy our daily lives. That also guarantees a chaotic environment that is quite stress-inducing.
This means that to address the challenges of working from home and to maintain our productivity—and sanity (!), the key is to learn to compartmentalise. With that in mind, here are three things we can do to compartmentalise our lives while working from home.
Have a dedicated workspace.
This can be a spare room, if you have one. If not, carve out a little nook that’s just for work. Studies show that having a dedicated space for work puts you in the working mindset—“When I’m in this space, it means I need to work.”
Do you best to manage your space by creating a conducive working ambience that mimics the workspace that you are used to in the office. Consider investing in a comfortable chair and an appropriate desk, especially if you know that you will be working remotely in the long run. Make sure that your workspace is well-lit. Create a layout where most used supplies are within reach so that you don’t need to run around the house to locate these. Consider the equipment that you need: Internet infrastructure? Laptop or desktop? Printer?
Your dedicated workspace can be as elaborate or as spartan as you want. The goal is to have a dedicated space that puts you into work mode. By creating and working in this dedicated space, your partner and your family will realise over time, that when you are in this workspace, it means that you are working and that you should not be disturbed unnecessarily.
Set your schedule.
Once you’ve compartmentalised your space, it’s time to compartmentalise your time. Set your working hours and create a routine, because routines improve productivity levels. Setting work schedules help put you in work mode.
Many productivity experts say to plan for only 5 hours of work—the rest of your work hours are meant to address any issues and last-minute tasks that may come up through the day.
This is important: Begin on time and end on time, too. When working remotely, ending the workday is perhaps the most difficult for some of us. Many of us feel that because we work from home, we suddenly have a lot more time to work. That’s not necessarily true. In fact, it’s this mindset that adds to the stress and reduces productivity.
There’s a funny but practical tip I’ve heard on how one ends the day: play a “goodbye” song at the end of the workday to signal that the day has ended. Once that song plays, it’s time to put your phones and laptops away. Tidy up the workspace and then leave, as if you were leaving for home.
The key is to remain disciplined in setting up your work time and sticking to it. And when you find yourself away from that work table, you will not get that guilty feeling of going back to work because you have already completed your workday and that you have given your best attention and most productive time to it.
Manage your work and tasks.
Segment your work tasks from your personal tasks. Many make the mistake of juggling work and personal tasks, and that just creates a very chaotic situation that is difficult to manage in the long run. It also reduces your productivity and unnecessarily prolongs your work day.
But if you do need to do personal errands during your work hours, schedule them in and make them part of your routine. Scheduling these tasks allows you to become pragmatic and less distracted because you know that you have the time to handle these tasks.
How about you? What tips or hacks have made working from home easy and productive for you? Please send me an email, I would love to hear your thoughts.
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