If you have to work at home during the Coronavirus outbreak and are wondering how to focus and get things done, this post is for you!
You can’t be productive without a productive workspace.
Although working from home doesn’t always come with a traditional office, it still requires productivity and focus.
There are a ton of simple steps you can take to create a productive space for your work, both physically and mentally. Want to know how to work from home like a pro? Check out some of my best tips for getting in the zone and staying there?
How to Work from Home During The Coronavirus Pandemic
1. Get Dressed.
The work from home fantasy is definitely a vision of sitting at your computer in your pajamas, sippin’ hot coffee and enjoying your privacy, right?
When it comes to getting your best work done, you might want to ditch that fantasy.
Just like you’re going into the office, getting dressed in the morning, showering and brushing teeth not only helps you wake up and mentally prepare for your day, but gets you in the mindset of working hard.
Just think, you’ll always be ready for a live video meeting, and if you have to pop out to run an errand or grab lunch, you’ll be ready to go.
One of the dangers from having so much freedom and flexibility with a work from home job is losing the structure and schedule that helps you stay on track and manage your time well.
Telecommute employees will tell you that sticking to a schedule throughout your workday makes a huge impact on how much you get done (and how effective your effort is).
Share digital calendars with co-workers to schedule meetings. Keep daily lists of the tasks you need to complete and separate lists of your weekly goals.
To find out how to work from home like a pro, plan ahead for times of the day you will be intermittently unavailable and let your team know ahead of time (without going into too much detail).
3. Separate Work and Play.
The age old question: is working in your bed less productive than working at a desk?
It turns out that it doesn’t really matter; according to an article from McClatchy DC, researchers found an equal split between bed and desk study locations amongst top-performing students.
However, be wary of working directly before bed and disturbing your circadian rhythm–just two hours of screen use can reduce your body’s melatonin levels by up to 22%, decreasing energy levels and restfulness.
Do yourself and your body a favor–leave work for work hours!
If your home is anything like mine, there are probably a multitude of distractions standing in the way of peak productivity.
A Canadian survey found over half of respondents working from home experienced interruptions from family members wanting attention, while over a quarter cited lack of access to proper office equipment.
As tough as it may be, try setting boundaries with family members and make sure your workspace is fully equipped to stay in the productivity zone.
4. Minimize Distractions.
You may not realize how distracting having the news on in the background of your workday may be.
Some people find themselves able to focus while listening to music or podcasts. But minimizing other distractions like having a television on, letting friends stop by during the workday, or even checking facebook regularly can help with your productivity and time management.
Turn your phone to silent when possible to avoid getting those constant pinging alerts that have you looking away from work to check your phone every 5 minutes.
5. Move Around.
Chances are if you are working from home, it’s on a computer. Prolonged sitting can quickly lead to bad postures like slouching, slumping, craning the neck, and crossing the legs.
While even the best back brace for posture may help stave off those bad habits, nothing beats getting up and moving around.
Getting out of your chair at least once an hour to move around and stretch, or even intermittently taking a short walk outside, can help greatly with preventing back pain, boosting blood circulation, and keeping your mind sharp.
Read also: How This Mom Makes $30K/Month with a Blog
6. Keep your Peace of Mind with Backups.
Having all the equipment to get your work done is essential for working at home. Without the resources of a full office to draw on, self-sufficiency is critical for productivity, especially for freelancers or small businesses.
When your whole business is on one laptop, hardware or data storage failure can be devastating to your bottom line and peace of mind.
No business is too small to incorporate a few security tips to put your mind at ease.
Plus, business laptops are often built with extra durability and hardware security features for working on the go. And services like Dropbox keep your business-critical data backed up whenever you’re online.
Mental stress can hamper productivity just as much as office distractions, and with these simple solutions you can keep on working knowing your work will stay safe and sound.
Read also: 7 Digital Security Trends for 2020
7. Plan Meals.
Having the freedom to eat whatever you have in the kitchen whenever you want can sometimes leave you skipping meals altogether.
Why? That little voice in the back of your head that keeps saying, “Oh just have a granola bar now, and you can make lunch after your next meeting.’
Except that you get caught up with emails and presentations and other tasks after that meeting, leaving you starving and overcome with cravings in the afternoon.
So, want to know how to work from home effectively? Plan meals by doing prep work on the weekends like building a salad, cutting up veggies for sandwiches and wraps, or writing out breakfast and lunch ideas on a white board by your desk.
8. Separate Your Office Space.
Working most of your hours from the dining room table? Dragging your computer to bed with you at night to finish checking email?
Working from home can transform your entire living environment into workspace. Don’t let it!
Defining a specific area for working, whether it’s just a desk or an entire home office, can help you prioritize your job when needed, stay more organized, as well as maintain a strong case for a home office tax write-off.
9. Pay Attention to your Body.
I know, I know: we’ve all heard that your daily morning routine should include the most important meal of the day. Some agree, others have found we make up for it by eating more calories over the whole day.
Regardless, we know that breakfast helps kids study better in the classroom, and hunger can be one more distraction to your morning workload. So why not grab a banana just in case, or another healthy snack?
It keeps you from being distracted by a growling stomach. In addition, it’s a nice way to take a quick break from your work and gives you a chance to exercise your creative thought muscles.
10. Make the Most of the Flexibility.
The flexibility of working from home means you can set your own pace, avoid distractions like water cooler gossip and loud coworkers, and take care of some household duties, errands, or appointments in a more timely fashion than you otherwise would be able to.
The answer to the question ‘How to work from home and get a lot done?’ is to enjoy the flexibility and take advantage of being able to let loose and de-stress as well.
Feel free to sing out loud, talk to yourself, cook yourself a delicious lunch, you name it! Your own positivity and good mood will shine through the work you do.
11. Watch Your Hours.
Nothing sounds better than unlimited paid vacation, right? Maybe not.
Turns out employees offered unlimited vacation tend to take no more or less vacation than before, and that on average, American workers have taken less and less vacation days since 2000.
The same principle can sneak up on work from home employees. All the flexibility and control, and yet somehow you end up working more or longer hours because, well, your work is always with you.
Watch your hours when you work from home and reinforce a ‘cut off’ time in the evening when laptops go away and you get to enjoy work-free life.
12. Discover Your Personal Work Rhythm.
It turns out the taking breaks actually helps you get more done!
Working continuously sets a high bar for your brain to continuously operate at and can lead to diminished concentration.
A recent study from Cognition shows that short breaks help you focus when you need it and let your brain reset to keep your performance levels high over the course of the day.
This same trick works for writer’s block too. Try walking around the block or even taking a shower to refresh your creativity. Studies show these activities release dopamine, which helps boost your creative drive.
At the end of the day, working from home can be challenging for anybody. One of the most important things you can do is just stay positive!
13. Boost Connectivity.
Don’t leave the strength of your connection to the rest of your team up to email or phone calls.
Organize meetings with free apps and services like Google Hangouts, Skype, UberConference, GoToMeeting, or Zoom.
Coordinate group chats, file sharing, and project management with online services like Slack, Trello, Google Docs, Dropbox, and Evernote.
These tips should be enough to help you find out how to work from home better, get everything done, but also live your life and enjoy your free time.
About The Author
This is a guest post by Katherine Luk, Community Outreach Coordinator for HP’s Small Business Solutions team.