Due to the unprecedented effects of COVID-19, the line between our professional and personal lives has blurred. Trying to take care of job responsibilities from home requires new ways of navigating. Here are a few ideas to help you become more productive while working at home – and stay grounded in these uncertain times.
Dress for Work
As tempting as it might be to stay in your pajamas, do not do it. Act as if you are going into the office: shower, put on your work clothes, and head to your desk. You will feel more focused and professional. According to Heather Yurovsky, founder of Shatter & Shine, one should not underestimate the power of putting on clothes suitable for public viewing. “It makes you feel human, confident and helps draw the line between being at home and being at work,” she says.
Create a Dedicated Space
While working from the kitchen table or couch in your living room might be more comfortable, it also might prohibit your productivity. Set up a home office. Get an extra monitor. Make sure you have dependable internet service. In short, replicate a professional workspace as best you can—one that feels separate from the rest of your home. When your surroundings are more in line with a real office, you will be more motivated. Plus, you will be able to more easily turn on when your day begins and turn off when it’s over.
Set Up a Plan for the Kids
Even though school is out, chances are you still have to work. Create a schedule for the kids. Carve out certain hours for activities in designated areas of the house. According to Emily Weinmann of Us Happy Four, one of the best ways to keep the little ones occupied and happy is to prepare activity stations. Another great idea is to prepare snacks the night before and put them in your office, in the fridge or their rooms. When someone is starving, the snacks will be ready. And finally, relax screen time. When you are stuck at home and it is either raining or scalding hot outside, you will be grateful for technology.
Keep Regular Hours
If you stick with regular hours, you will not only be able to seamlessly transition when you return to the office, but you will also be on the same schedule as your colleagues. Everyone will be working concurrently, so you will be more efficient, easier to reach, and more productive. When lunchtime comes, leave your home office and eat in the kitchen, the patio, or the backyard. Even though you are in one place, the simple change of venue will be mentally refreshing.
Set Clear Boundaries
This is especially important if you have other people in your home. Try your best to discourage intrusions. When you are in a meeting, shut the door. Lock it if you must. If your home is more open, put signs in strategic places where people frequent, like the entry to the kitchen or stairs to the basement. This way, they will pause and reflect on whether an interruption is really necessary.
Limit Your Intake of News
In a society that is saturated with news at every turn, it is tough not to get sucked into the latest tragedy. Be intentional: Turn off the TV during work hours. Do not visit news sites when you’re at the computer or on your phone. If you feel you must have a bit of news to break up your day, tune in for a few minutes during lunch or in the evening. But even then, be judicious and limit your time. If some story sends you over the edge, turn it off and head outside for a walk. Change the channel. Put on your favorite music.
These days, we are all doing the best we can, taking life one day at a time. Unless you already work from home or have decided that you will work from home for the rest of your life, remember that things will change.