I have known many people over the years that can work from home effortlessly. I have also known many that struggled with it extensively. It can be a challenging task for the best of us in the face of everything else thrown at us by COVID-19. The following guidance can help you stay focused and effective while working from home. This advice works even outside of a pandemic too.
Dedicate Space to Work In
The first step in effectively working from home is to create your office. Ideally you want a dedicated space that can be separated from non-work space. Preferably, this area would have a door. Organize this space to be your office or work area. Personal bills or shopping lists and the like have no place here in your new office.
Dedicating and keeping this space separate and distinct from the rest of your home can help with the mental association that you are going to work. You should also treat this area like your office. Shower and get ready just like you were going into the office. Getting dressed and ready for work only helps to reinforce the ‘going to work’ mental state.
Do Not Change More Than You Need To
Try to follow your normal schedule as closely as possible. Show up at your workstation at the same time you would normally arrive in the office. Keeping the same break schedule can do more to tell your brain that everything is just business as usual, even when you are in a spare room on a fold up table!
Now, we can’t go to lunch with our co-workers, or chat over a coffee in the break room, but we can adapt these routines as well. Go brew a cup of coffee in your kitchen or order a meal from a local restaurant (help them stay in business as well). If you and your co-workers need the social aspect of such events, plan a shared call over your ordered lunches or coffee break. You can even use your computers to have a video meeting to socialize if you want.
Try to follow your normal schedule as closely as possible. Transition meetings to online meetings at the same times. If you caught up on all your email first thing in the morning, continue that practice. All of this together helps keep your mind in working as usual mode.
This will be a different struggle for different people. This can be especially difficult if you also have children at home. Giving them a dedicated space as much as you do. The news, social media, YouTube, and similar are also a threat to your productivity at home. With no-one watching over your shoulder, it’s easy to think, “I’ll just look for a bit…” It’s easy for 30 minutes or even an hour to disappear.
Still struggling? You can setup a different profile on your PC if you are using the same computer for work and home. Ideally, you can have a separate computer in your new ‘office’ instead of using your own personal computer, though this is not always the case.
Deadlines can help you keep on track. Set reasonable goals even if not required by your job. Setting tight, but realistic targets can help keep you motivated and enthusiastic.
Sharing your goals with colleagues can help keep you accountable to yourself.
Patience is Critical
Strive to stay patient and understanding. This time is very stressful and every day there is more depressing and discouraging news. Working on short achievable tasks can help you stay motivated and on task. Alternatively, your short goal can be time based. Set a timer and make and focus and push through your work until the bell rings, and then take a well-deserved beverage break. One internal study a company did using a time tracking app suggested that their top 10% of employees shared a valuable skill, taking effective breaks. The study showed that these employees would work for 52 minutes, followed by a 17 minute break before getting back to work.
The Right Technology Helps
Having the right tools for the job is critical, no matter what you are doing. Working from home is no different. When working from home, you will need a reliable internet connection, and access to the files and other tools of your trade. Additionally, working from home can be improved by having the right collaboration and communication tools across your organization. There are many options out there for your team. At MAD Technical Solutions we use Microsoft Teams as part of our Microsoft 365 (Formerly called Office 365) subscription.
Need help with working from home? We can’t actually cheer you on and help you stay motivated, but our technology experts can get you and your team set up with the most efficient home office solutions. Contact us at 702-944-9635 or our Contact Us page today!