Working From Home Tips
We get to work from home for the next two weeks ... or more! While it feels like freedom for those who have to go to an office daily, having some structure is always helpful to ensure focus, productivity and reduce burnout.
To help get your wheels rolling on how to setup your new workdays while being in the comfort of your home, here are a few of my favorites that have worked in my past life.
Create a routine
Remember your freshman year of college where you had to learn to make yourself go to class instead of your parents making you? Working from home for the first time is very similar.
I found quickly that I needed a routine.
In the morning, my routine is the same as it is when I go to the office … minus the blazer and makeup. Ladies, I have found that at some points, I do need to put on makeup.Lunch is at a designated time, and away from my desk. It’s typically 30 minutes though instead of one hour.I try to sign off at a set time, but, as per usual, make myself available for other offices.
Designate a workspace Finding the best place in your home where you can focus and that minimizes distractions is key. I have a makeshift office in my house, but there are times when I even get stir crazy, so I have to move to the kitchen table. Try different places to see what works best for you.
Stay connected I am not a fan of video calls but seeing another human versus just talking to them on the phone is huge for my mental wellbeing. So, I now have a Webcam. It’s easy to just rely on email while working from home. By sending an email, it sometimes means that the task is now on someone else’s plate so you can move on to other things – or end your day early. Unfortunately, this bogs down productivity. Instead, use jabber, texts and phone calls as a substitute for walking over to someone’s desk like you would do if you were in the office.
Create a daily “to-do” list
I love to-do lists. This helps me to focus and plan out my day though. While I have an overall one, I also have a Daily Top 3. It’s my daily goal to finish those three items. When at the office, I can move amongst other items if I don’t get those three accomplished, but for me, this Top 3 ensures personal accountability when working at home. Sometimes that means working later than normal, which would be the same if I’m in the office.
Have regular check ins Regular huddles are my jam! Fifteen- to twenty-minute calls where I can talk with my team or check in to talk things out are so helpful. It ensures I’m connected, but also ensures we are all on the same page. During this time, having a round table where everyone gets to talk, air their daily goals, challenges, needs or just be heard ... within a set amount of time… is also an idea that’s worked for my teams I’ve worked on. Huddles don’t have to be with you and your boss. Huddles with colleagues are a great way to provide additional accountability and ensure effective communication. Since everyone is under social distancing protocol, I have a friend group who has setup a daily 20-minute lunch huddle where we can catch up on each other’s day and see other humans. It’s a virtual lunch break.
Ensure you have all the connections and supplies you need There’s nothing more frustrating than your internet going out, not having that extra monitor or the VPN freezing. There’s also nothing worse than running out of coffee or needing mid-afternoon snacks to give you that 3 p.m. pick-me-up and not having any. Thankfully, in our current situation, there are a lot of restaurants and delivery services who can bring the sustenance to you … and who are needing work right now.
Understand your weaknesses We all have weaknesses and working from home can show you a whole new level of them … how easily you get distracted, how addicted you are to that Netflix show you’ve been binging to cope with social distancing, how rough a day is when the wine is pouring at noon. I have a no-TV policy during work hours. I easily get sucked into whatever is on and lose focus. In addition, I must ensure my workspace is spotless and organized. Otherwise I will fixate on that, and then my cleaning ADD will come in, and I will end up cleaning my entire house. This was on my Top 3 list yesterday.
Get some fresh air Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t go outside. Being in your house for an entire week and not leaving is not good for anyone. So, during lunch or before or after work, go outside for a walk or drive. Thankfully, it’s sunny and doesn’t get dark until 7 p.m. Most of us work out during these times too, and gyms are beginning to close. There are a lot of trainers and group fitness instructors who are live streaming at-home workout classes. However, I need accountability. So, I have worked with my friends to setup evening workout times where we will live stream a class or each do our own workout. And, we have some workout challenges going on too.
Find what works best for you I’ve provided examples that I’ve found work best for me. Each of us is different. Maybe you need background noise at all times, so it sounds more like your office setting, maybe you need to move your “workspace” to different areas to keep your mind and creativity fresh. You will figure it out as the week goes on.
The goal is to ensure that the WFH flexibility doesn’t reduce productivity but enhances it.