Before the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation (and the world), more than 5 million Americans were already working from home at least half of the work week. Since COVID-19 forced businesses to keep employees home, that number skyrocketed.
But as more people ditch their commutes for telecommuting, they’re also coming to a startling realization: It’s not as easy as it seems.
Add in the fact that kids are home from school and it gets even more challenging. How can those of us who are telecommuting make the most of our workdays? How can we maintain productivity and a healthy work/life balance?
Create a Physical Boundary
If you don’t have one already, set up a designated work area somewhere in your home. As we discussed in a previous blog post, the best place is a dedicated home office where you can close the door and escape distractions. If that’s not an option, set up in a low-traffic, quiet area of the home, or opt for the kitchen where you can spread out at a large island or table.
Make Your Space Comfortable & Functional
Do you remember your first week on the job when you decorated your workspace with family pictures, motivational quotes, and knick-knacks that make you feel good inside? Do the same for your home workspace. Make it feel like your actual place of employment — this will help train your mind that it’s a place to work, not play. Make the space enjoyable so it lights a fire in you to remain productive.
Separate Work from Home (As Much as Possible)
Creating a mental boundary is just as important as creating a physical boundary. While it’s OK to take a few minutes to pop a load of laundry in the washer or empty the dishwasher, always remember that you are working. Say no to distractions (like a Netflix binge or cookie baking) that can hinder productivity or halt your to-do list. Self-discipline is key here — just because you’re physically in your home doesn’t mean you have time to procrastinate.
Set a Schedule (and Stick to It)
Routines help us set expectations and remain productive. Create a start and end time for your day, just as you would if you were physically going to the workplace. Also, set break times throughout the day. If you need to, block off time on your calendar for particular tasks and to-dos — use it as both a reminder and a way to hold yourself accountable.
It’s tempting to stay in pajamas when working from home — no one is going to see you, after all! But there’s something to be said about getting ready just as you would before a day at the office. Research shows that how you dress does in fact affect your job performance. It can influence:
- Cognitive skills
- Negotiating skills
- Hormone levels
- Heart rate
Maybe there’s more to the motto “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” after all.
When you follow the right advice and have a comfortable space, working from home can be a pleasant experience. Take advantage of this opportunity to turn your home into the perfect place to work — at least for a little while.
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