3 Tips on How to Stay Productive in the Home Office
For some of us it feels as though our lives have changed completely overnight. Since the lockdown, we are no longer able to enjoy the liberties that we have always taken for granted – going through our exercise routines in the mornings, commuting to work via public transport, working in our shops and offices, meeting friends and colleagues for drinks later, etc. And while we all struggle, the struggle is different for everyone. For some, the worst part about the lockdown is the fact they cannot spend time with their loved ones; others are having a really hard time taking their outdoor exercise routines indoors. One of the biggest struggles for most, however, and particularly those who have no prior experience with it, is the move from a bustling and strict office environment, to the home office.
Working from home has been romanticized by many – the idea of being able to set your own hours and work at your own pace, to wear whatever you want and take a break to snack on whatever you want, to work on the couch, the balcony or even in bed. Bliss, right? Uhm, no, not really. Yes, it has its upsides, especially if you’ve been your own boss for as long as you can remember. But it’s not easy establishing a strict and productive home-office routine, particularly if you were forced to do so from one day to the next. Finding that groove adds extra pressure to an already stressful situation, after all, we all have different realities at home. Hence, it may be a lot easier for those who live alone than a single mama juggling work, homeschooling and long afternoons and hours of entertaining the kids.
If you’re still having a difficult time adapting to the home office environment and routine, here are three tips that will help you stay productive and get your daily tasks out of the way.
Treat Your Mornings as Though You Were Headed to the Office
When you’re working from home, it’s tempting to roll out of bed whenever your biological clock decides to wake you up, grab a cup of coffee and get to work in your PJs. It’s equally tempting to spend two, three hours faffing about before you even get into any semblance of a work-zone because, you know, you could be cleaning, baking cupcakes and trying the latest make-up tutorial to hit YouTube instead. Resist the temptation!
Treat your mornings as though you were headed to the office – trust us when we say, this is the best approach to staying on top of your usual work routine. Get up at the same time you usually would and go through your morning rituals the same way you would if you were about to go to the office. Have breakfast, wash your face, do your hair, even slap on some make-up if you feel like it and, most importantly of all – get dressed! You might opt for the casual-chic yoga bottoms and nice top combo for the first few weeks, but you’ll quickly come to recognize just how much the clothes we wear can affect our productivity. Slip into yoga pants and our mind subconsciously stays put in the realm of leisure and exercise; throw on some skinny jeans and a nice button blouse, and your mind will gear up, readying itself to go – to work, to create, to slay.
Set Up A Designated Workspace
If you have a separate room you can convert into your office for the time being, perfect! Rid it of everything that could possibly distract you and just keep it office simple. Creating a designated space to work in will put you in the right frame of mind to get productive. Not all of us have the luxury of an actual home office – or a guest room we can turn into one – but that’s OK. There are other things you can do to create this space for yourself, even if it’s the kitchen or dining room table.
If you’re working in a common area such as the living room or even your own bedroom – because it’s the only room offering refuge from the kids! – there’s a few things you can do to transform even the tiniest surface area into a functioning workspace. Let’s say you are working on the dining table, for example. Remove anything that is not related to work from the table; if you can’t, move non-work-related items to one side and set enough space aside for yourself to work on your laptop or tablet comfortably, with all your tools and necessities at easy reach – i.e. pen, paper, agenda, cup of coffee. Ensure that whatever space you are working with is set up by the time you finish your breakfast, so as not to waste any time cleaning around etc. Once you finish your workday, pack up your work tools and put them out of sight for the rest of the day/evening – this will give you a sense of wrapping up the day, and as simple as this action may be, it will do great things in terms of helping your mind wind down before putting on your at-home hat.
Set Yourself a Timer
Being stripped from your usual routine and environment can do a real number on your concentration. Suddenly you’re surrounded by so many distractions – from your neighbour’s piano recitals at 9AM every morning, to the pile of laundry leering at you from the bedroom corner, to all the lunches that still need to be prepped and the fifty new messages waiting for you on Slack. It can be so easy to succumb to the constant distractions in and around the home, but there is one very good way to beat that: by setting yourself a timer.
Start out by setting yourself half hour or one-hour blocks of time and set your alarm. During this time, keep your mobile on airplane mode, don’t scroll through your social media timelines – don’t do anything other than work. This is a strict set-up that works wonders on the mind. It’s challenging and weirdly motivating, and after every thirty minutes or one-block completed without distractions, you will feel deeply accomplished and satisfied