Has the state of the world now resulted in you working from home? This can be a huge adjustment if you are used to the routine of having a commute, actually leaving your home, and having a clear separation between your space for relaxation/personal time and your space for work.
Before the quarantine, I worked from my office 5 days out of the week, and worked from home 1 day out of the week. I initially would work from the couch at home, have the TV on in the background and thought to myself, “this is the life.”
That quickly drained my productivity though… the TV definitely made it almost impossible to concentrate, and my day would blur together with the evening and I would actually feel like I had accomplished nothing.
Now that I’m working from home 100% I definitely understand the importance of having boundaries between work and relaxation and it is so important for both your mental health and for your productivity.
Let’s dive into the best ways to keep calm while working from home…
You Need A Clear Separation Between Work And Relaxation
When you put your work clothes or uniform on, leave the house for your commute, and step into your office or workplace… you know it’s time to work. Maybe the environment encourages this state of mind, or it could be the threat of a consequence if you don’t stay focused.
It’s so much easier to get distracted and slack off when you don’t have people around you to notice and hold you accountable.
Maybe it’s checking your phone, watching a show, taking a nap, or just blowing off work altogether. These probably aren’t things you can regularly do if you have to physically work at a location. So that’s why you need to create that separation at home.
When you set up an appropriate environment and schedule to encourage work and productivity, it becomes easier to maintain your focus because instead of relying solely on willpower, you are creating systems and structure.
How To Increase Your Productivity When Working From Home
Now let’s get into my specific suggestions so that you can maximize your focus and productivity and prevent distractions throughout the day.
1. Set up a specific place that is for work only.
This could be a home office, a desk in your living room or bedroom, a kitchen table, or your basement. Choose whatever space works best for you that you can devote only to work.
Let your family, significant other, or roommates know to keep distractions to a minimum during your work hours. Being able to close a door or being in a separate space is ideal. If you don’t have this luxury then you can communicate your work hours ahead of time, put up a sign, or wear headphones.
2. Make a schedule.
This is non-negotiable. It is so important to have specific work hours so you can know when it’s time to get down to work, and when you are done for the day and can set your work aside.
I like the idea of block scheduling, so I wake up and do my morning routine, work for 1-2 hours (depending on when my clients are scheduled), then I take a break and do my workout, see a few clients, take a lunch break, then see my remaining clients for the evening and I’m done!
This entire routine spans from 8:30AM through 6 or 7PM depending on the day, but having breaks throughout the day helps me take a break and return more focused when it’s time to work.
Figure out what works best for you based on when you are most productive (most people are most productive and positive in the morning) and the flexibility you have within your specific job.
3. Take active breaks.
So that brings me to the next important topic of taking active breaks. What is an active break? It means taking time to nourish your mind and body so that you can return to work refreshed and not drained.
It does not mean checking the news, social media, or anything else that may bring down your mood or cause you more stress.
Some great ways to take a break include: going for a walk, eating a nutritious meal, watching an uplifting show or video, doing a work-out or a quick stretch routine, taking a quick nap, or having a chat with a family member.
4. Remove all distractions.
When you have your phone nearby it can be easy to say to yourself, “I’ll just check it quickly then get back to work.” Quickly then turns into 20 minutes sucked into Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and then you wonder… where did the time go?
The best way to avoid this is to remove the temptation by putting your phone on “do not disturb” (I regularly do this throughout the day), putting your phone in a drawer (I’m serious… I do this one too and it really helps because out of sight is out of mind), or putting it in another room.
Do the same thing with any other distractions. Close distracting tabs, stop checking your email a million times a day, and turn off the TV. You may be surprised at how much work you can get done, and you may even shorten your workday as a result!
5. Do the tasks you hate the most first.
This seems counter-intuitive, right? Like why would you start your workday with the things that suck? This is all because of willpower. Typically, willpower is highest at the beginning of the day (because you haven’t done anything to deplete it yet), and the tasks you hate usually require the most willpower.
So when you do these undesirable tasks (for me it’s accounting…) you will be able to get them done and not put them off (because we tend to procrastinate undesirable tasks), and you will feel more accomplished and productive because you finally checked it off your list.
You Can And Will Adjust To Working From Home
Making the adjustment to working from home can be tough, but when you know how to maximize your time working, while keeping your relaxation and downtime separate, you can reap the benefits of both a productive workday and rejuvenating downtime.
Listen, nobody is perfect and there are definitely going to be times when it’s harder to stick to a structure due to a lack of motivation, not getting restful sleep, distractions from family members, etc… Be kind and forgiving to yourself and try again tomorrow. 🙂