Working From Home: Tips & Tricks (Part I)
Working From Home: Tips & Tricks (Part I)
When COVID-19 came knocking onto our doors, most companies had to switch to work-from-home mode. While some of us might have already been accommodated to WFH several days a week, it does not compare to a prolonged period of full-time home office. Even though a large part of the population is vaccinated by now, WFH remains a prevalent measure in fighting the spread of Covid. It might even become a standard post-COVID-19 at your company. While many articles have already focused on all the possible benefits of working from home (better work-life balance, higher spirits, higher productivity etc), it is very likely you are becoming a bit tiresome of always staying inside your house. Therefore, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some tips from experts and some practices that I have found myself to be useful in these unprecedented times. In this first part, I will walk you through some ideas and routines that can help you to structure your daily life and optimize your workday.
Optimize your workday
Some days, you feel like you have 1001 items on your to-do list, while your entire day is already booked with meetings and there never seems to be enough time. To cope with this feeling of being overwhelmed, it can be very useful to prioritize your tasks: take 3 main items that you want to achieve today from your to-do list. Those three will then serve as your priority and have to be done today. Another option in prioritizing your work is going through your to-do list and identify the tasks that absolutely have to be done today and focus on those. For example, if an essential report is failing and needs to be fixed asap, that is a ‘must-do’. On the other hand, If you are giving a presentation next week, you do not have to start working on it today so can be left out of today’s to-do list.
Additionally, it is also important to take a break in due time. At the office, breaks often occur naturally when a co-worker comes to say hello or you are running into someone when grabbing a coffee. If you are working from home, these spontaneous moments are eliminated. Therefore, you need to remind yourself to take a small break every so often. Ideally, you take about 5-10 minutes as a break every hour or so. If needed, you can plan in your agenda specific times to take a break or set a timer of 60 minutes to remind yourself to pause for a few minutes every hour.
Finally, an issue that might be more common to the younger workforce is the usage of social media. While it is easy to become distracted by your phone, you should try to limit the usage of social media during the workday. How often have you found yourself ‘quickly’ checking Instagram and then ending up watching cute puppy videos on YouTube for 30 minutes? Social media is a productivity killer, so eliminate it as much as you can during the workday or at least limit it to your planned breaks.
Next to planning your workday, it is also important to create structure every day. Usually, having to go to work and/or school automatically creates a sort of pattern into our lives. With that being gone, it is easy to throw all structure overboard. However, structure helps with staying focused during your workday and relaxing after your workday is over.
How you start your day will set the tone for the rest of it. Therefore it is important to have a decent morning routine. Since WFH started, many people have created the habit to roll out of bed and right onto their desk to start their work day. Or even worse, they have that daily morning meeting from their bed, because they do not need to use their cameras anyway. As tempting as it sounds to stay in your bed as long as you possibly could, it is important to have a morning routine before starting your work. Naturally, how you exactly implement that, is very personal but a common tip is to have your breakfast at your kitchen table, not behind your computer. Also it can help to set your mind to work-mode if you put on clothes as if you were going to the office. At the very least, try to change out of those pyjamas, even if it just means putting a different pair of sweatpants.
Finally, it is important to create a boundary between the time that you are working and time that you are off. For me personally, it helps a lot to have a clear end to your workday where you try to sort of mimic the commute during which you go back home and process your work day. It could help to go for a walk after work, do a workout, play with your kids, read a book or cook a meal: any activity to get you away from your computer and your work, and that makes it able for you to fully relax, will work.
I hope these tips prove to be useful to you. If you are interested, stay tuned for the second part of this blog where I will discuss setting up your home office, virtual communications and, arguably the most important topic, how to wind down after work. In the meantime, stay safe!