Many of us are working from home these days and have been for quite some time. As the outlook for remote work looks like it will last for a while, we wanted to examine best-practices for staying productive under these conditions. Note that staying productive in the office can have plenty of challenges too, but working from one’s home office presents its own set of unique challenges, be it homeschooling children, or even the distracting video game console sitting in the corner. We reached out to colleagues in our network to see what they were doing to stay productive and put together some ideas to help stay on track while not in the office.
Get in the habit of setting routines.
Set a schedule
Set a start and end time to your day that includes a lunch break, just as you would in the office. Plan your calendar for the day to make note of meetings and block off periods for deep work and keep your home working hours as if you are in an office setting. Sticking to a schedule to help maintain routine and consistency which can help you track progress and make sure you are spending your time wisely. There are some great ideas from Themuse.com that include having consistent times for getting out of bed in the morning and changing into a work outfit, even if it’s not quite the same as what you’d wear to an actual office,
Create a “commute”
You can get creative with this one and start and end your day as you would if you were making the drive to the office. One idea for creating a "commute" is to take a walk around the block before hitting your desk - and "commute" home by doing the same. Getting fresh air and setting up a similar routine of going to and from the office is a great way to mentally mark the start and end of the workday.
Setting up your workspace
Your workspace at home should feel comfortable and familiar. One way to do that is to set up your home office like your real office. For example, 2 monitors, a real desk and chair in a dedicated space. Keep in mind ergonomics and be especially careful to avoid repetitive strain injuries that a bad setup can cause. Tips for an ergonomic set up from WebMD include 1) choosing a work surface that offers plenty of space for your knees, thighs, and feet 2) an office chair with lower back support, 3) keeping your feet flat on the floor with a footrest.
Dedicating a space
Maintaining an area of your house solely for work can increase productivity according to numerous sources such as Enterprenuer.com, and Generationy.com. Working from your bed or the dining room table might sometimes be a necessity - but having a spot in your home carved out specifically for work can allow you to get more done. If you can’t get a dedicated space you can separate from the rest of your life, try to find a niche space you can use that is out of the rest of the household’s way — and they out of yours — as much as possible.
Staying active and healthy
Having snacks and staying hydrated.
Back to back zoom calls can sometimes leave little room for eating a healthy meal. Having snacks such as hard-boiled eggs and nuts around that are easy to eat helps with an empty stomach. A focus on protein, fiber, healthy fats, fruits, and veggies is the best way to go according to Clevelandclinic.org. Other suggested grab and go items include lean jerky, apples, bananas, and string cheese.
Exercise is a great way to keep up your activity level and take a quick break in order to come back to work feeling refreshed.
One suggestion is to use your Apple Watch or other smartwatches or timers to remember to stand, stretch, and get the blood flowing.
You can also set aside time for a walk. With winter weather coming this can be harder but there are also lots of online options for classes to take from home such as those hosted by Obe Fitness. Classes can range from yoga to cardio.
Play a quick game.
Brain games can be a good stress reliever. Spending time away from the computer and focusing on something like a puzzle or sudoku can get your mind re-energized.
A quick power nap can reset the brain and give you the time you need to take a mental break and wake-up rejuvenated for the rest of the day. Media mogul and Founder of Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington is a strong advocate for taking naps at work. She even has a dedicated napping and meditation room for employees in her company headquarters.
Adding to your environment
Good playlists can help you concentrate and focus. Find the style of music that works for you and play it in the background while working to maintain your pace.
Podcasts and audiobooks are also great to listen to as they can spark ideas and maintain a level of learning. Here is a top 25 list of business podcasts that include Entrepreneurs on Fire and As Told by Nomads.
Ambient noise is another suggestion that helps lessen distraction and aid with focus. This can also help cover up noises from homeschoolers or familial co-workers. Ones to try include A Soft Murmur or myNoise.