The Coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing have led to a huge increase in people working from home. Many of you might be doing so for the first time, and you might be thrown for a bit of a loop. At the office, even if you work in a private office or your own cubicle, you always have colleagues around. You’re never without some type of collaboration or team cohesion.
Top 7 Tips for Success When Working From Home
How do you maintain your focus on work when you’re working in isolation? Here are some ideas to keep your edge, maintain business continuity and stay productive when you’re doing remote work.
1. Minimize Distractions
Most freelancers and home business operators will tell you this is a constant struggle for them. Getting rid of distractions doesn’t just mean other people, although the COVID-19 crisis probably means your children and spouse may also be home.
Make a plan for dealing with everything that could derail you from your work. Here are some examples.
- Deliveries and mail: Deal with these the way you would at the office. They’re a normal interruption that shouldn’t throw you off your stride.
- People: How are you going to limit interruptions? If you’re alone in the house, you’re in luck on that count. If you’re not, you must make it clear to the other people in your home that you can’t be bothered when you’re working. Set your phone to a “Do Not Disturb” setting that only allows calls from your selected contacts to ring.
- Household chores: Walking into a messy kitchen, looking at a weedy garden patch or spotting grime in the bathroom can distract you and make you think you should really be doing some household chores. Deal with this by setting aside a specific time each day to deal with cooking, cleaning and other chores.
- Music and television: Some people can work better with a TV or radio on in the background. If you can’t, leave them off until you’re finished working or can take a break. If other people in the house are using them, you may need to wear earplugs.
2. Get Into a Routine
When you’re home, it can be easy to slack off and let your routine slide. To avoid becoming a slacker, set up a regular schedule. Appreciate the fact that you won’t have to spend time commuting and don’t have to dress up. At the same time, treat each day with the seriousness a work day deserves.
- Have set times that you start work, eat lunch, work out and finish work. Flexibility is one of the benefits you get in this new situation, but try to stick to at least a loose schedule. Most people find they get more done when they start working as soon as they get up.
- Don’t wear your pajamas and unkempt hair all day. You don’t have to dress up, but put on some decent clothes, brush your teeth and fix your hair really quick. When you look good, you feel good too!
- Eat healthy meals. Being at home gives you time to make home-cooked meals, and getting grocery delivery makes it even more convenient. If you’re used to grabbing fast food and junk food when you’re busy at work, your body will appreciate the change.
- Leave your work space at the end of the day.
3. Use Computer-Based Productivity Tools
When you’re trying to be productive at home, a computer-based platform can be a big help in organizing, tracking, assigning and overseeing your work projects.
There are hundreds of free and low-cost productivity programs out there. Some can help you manage your business, and others can help you maintain your personal productivity. Here are a few you might find useful.
Jilt: This is an email program specifically for online store owners. You can use it to send out email newsletters, contact customers and more.
Simpleology: This is an easy-to-use program that you add to your browser. It blocks distractions, helps you focus and gives you a daily to-do list.
Stay Focusd: This Chrome extension helps you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites, email and social media sites.
Focus@Will: This is a personalized program that creates background music for you. The program was created by neuroscientists to offer background music that drowns out distractions and helps you concentrate. The company is currently offering a sale on its products for people at home during the Coronavirus pandemic.
4. Take Regular Breaks
At the office, breaks in your routine are part of your day. You get interrupted, you have to walk to another part of the building, or you get assigned to a new project. At home, you may have to set up a timer to make sure you take consistent, regular breaks. Why are breaks important?
According to Kelsy Libert at Inc. magazine, “It may seem counter-intuitive to take breaks in order to be more productive, but research has shown that the most productive workers focus for 52 minutes, then disengage for 17 minutes. These rest periods help the mind come back refreshed and better prepared to see new angles on challenges.”
The Pomodoro Technique
Many workers and students swear by the Pomodoro technique, which is particularly useful if you have a big, unwieldy task to get through.
Here’s how to do it.
- Pick a task you want to focus on.
- Set a timer for 25 to 30 minutes. During that time, focus only on that task.
- When the timer goes off, take a break for five minutes.
- Repeat until the project is finished. After the fourth 25-minute session, take 10-minute breaks.
Brian Collins gives an excellent breakdown of the technique in Forbes.
“Unlike trying to work without a break for hours, it’s relatively easy to stack small sessions on top of each other,” Collins notes. “Four Pomodoro sessions can represent a productive morning. It’s surprising how much you can accomplish in short bursts of focused work. After that, it’s time for lunch or even a nap.”
5. Create a Separate Home Office
You’ll feel more professional and productive if you set up a specific area to do your remote work. Don’t let your work life take over your whole house. Designate one desk or table for your work. Make that your home office.
If you have papers, place them in a file cabinet or a folder when you’re done working. Find a separate location for them.
If you have no choice but to locate your workspace in your bedroom, kitchen or living room, you still need to make the transition clear. Turn your computer off. Cover the table. Do something to visually mark the end of the work day.
Find Creative Alternatives
Another way to make the transition work for you is to find an alternate office space. If your local library is still open, go there for a change of scenery. If it’s a gorgeous day outside, take your laptop out to the garden or balcony. Just be sure the wonderful weather doesn’t distract you.
6. Keep Your Urgency
Stay focused on the fact that it’s a work day. When you get up, don’t dawdle in front of the coffee machine or spend time watching the news. If you had to go to the office, you would be rushing to get dressed, grab your coffee and get out the door. Treat your new situation with the same urgency.
Each evening, put together a to-do list of what you want to concentrate on the next day. When you get up, turn on the computer and start working while your coffee is still brewing.
When you were at work, you had to constantly set priorities and make quick decisions. Bring those same skills to this new work environment.
7. Set Up Clear Boundaries
Do you have a spouse or roommate who is also working from home? In this situation, you really need clear boundaries.
Don’t compare your work routines, amount of work accomplished or anything else. It will only create resentment. Here are some tips for successfully working in the same space:
- You should each have a designated work area.
- Decide if you’re going to have music or other background noises on.
- Don’t criticize or compete with each other.
Get Ready to Work Successfully From Home
The COVID-19 virus has made life difficult for many people. If you’re working from home, you don’t have to let isolation and social distancing make you miserable. You can stay productive and maintain business continuity while enjoying new freedom and flexibility.
IntoClicks is here for you and your business during these unprecedented times. Contact us today to see how we can help!