Whether your company is encouraging remote work, or you are on lockdown and you have to work at home, your daily routine has just drastically changed. At first, the idea of not having to battle the rush-hour traffic or iron your work clothes makes remote work attractive. But it doesn’t take long for reality to hit.
If you have never worked from home before, you will realize that not working in your usual environment brings a new set of challenges. All of a sudden you are isolated from the social aspects of work and then come to the distractions. While at the office, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the endless housework and you can’t be tempted to take a quick break to watch an episode of your favorite series, which turns into a marathon. And then there is the family. All the love in the world won’t help you with the constant interruptions.
Planning for a productive day
It’s worth bearing in mind that it will take you a couple of days to get used to working from home and to learn about your new working environment. Some people like music, others need silence, a clear desk or clutter. Allow yourself some time to find your own style. Meanwhile, the following 9 tips will help you adapt and remain productive during the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Limit your workspace
Having a dedicated workspace will benefit you and your family. When you make sure you reply to an email, make calls, or carry out your duties in your workspace, your job isn’t having taking over the family space. At the same time, when you are in your workspace, your family should learn to respect that you aren’t free for non-essential interruptions. If you don’t have a room available, select an area with the least amount of traffic.
- Consider the use of noise-canceling headphones
When we are struggling to concentrate, any noise from the family or even the street can be an excuse to stop work. Noise-canceling headphones or earbuds can block out irritating sounds and even be replaced with sounds from nature, which have been known to reduce stress., lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improve concentration levels.
- Create a strict routine for your workspace
Don’t allow yourself to stay in bed late or take the dog for an extended walk. Try to in your workspace at the same time you would usually start work. Taking breaks from your workspace at the same time you would normally take a break will develop strong physical boundaries and help you to forget the temptations that are around your home. Also try to make sure you are doing your household jobs in your non-working hours, as you usually would.
- Remind your friends and family of your physical boundaries
It is difficult for others, especially children who are also on lockdown, to understand that you are still working even though you are at home. If you are on a roll with your project, the last thing you need is someone popping their head in to see if you want a cup of tea. No matter how grateful you are, it will stop your flow and it can take a long time to get back into the rhythm.
- Know when your working day is over
Murphy’s Law will always tell you that you just get engaged in part of your work when it’s clocking off time and if you feel like you want to continue past your usual hours that’s fine. But, when you do feel that you have achieved all that you should for the day, it’s important to leave all of your electronic devices at your workspace and enjoy the evening as you usually would. Make a list of things that you need to do for the next day do that your head is clear and spend time doing what you enjoy, especially if you have a family, as they still deserve your attention.
- Let others know your schedule
Similarly, with your family, it’s important that others know your working hours. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you are free for visitors, delivery people, or even your mum dropping by to offer you help. Granted, during the COVID-19 crisis, it won’t be possible for people to pop in, but, if (and this is highly possible) companies continue to promote remote work, it is important that you restrict drop-ins because it does lead to a lack of focus and potentially missing deadlines.
- Use the modern technology available
Some people will be perfectly happy in isolation and not feel the need for social interaction. For others, it can become a serious problem. This, along with cabin fever, makes it almost impossible to focus on work. Zoom is just one of the technologies that will allow us to remain in contact with work colleagues. Even if you don’t need to discuss work, you could still arrange a ‘working lunch’ video call in order to keep in touch with people. Many people will be feeling the same way you are and catching up via video will boost morale.
- Avoid Cabin Fever
Being indoors for extended periods of time is not good for our health. Nature has numerous benefits that go beyond stretching our legs. If you are in an area that still permits going out for exercise, make the most of this. If not, try to use areas of your house that you wouldn’t normally. Create a list of the things you have been meaning to do, whether that’s learn how to do the tango or read the book you have had on your shelf for months. Make the most of the Internet to learn new things or keep in touch with others via social media sites.
- Remain positive
If you are reading this, it is probably that you are not in a hospital bed suffering from COVID-19 and therefore, your situation could be a lot worse. You are not the only person who is worried about how they are going to pay their bills, if their children’s education will suffer, or if they will be unemployed at the end of the month. We are in this together and more than ever, the world needs positivity. Take advantage of this time, do all the things that you never get round to doing, especially with your family.