What constructs can you put in place around time to be at your most productive when working from home? Here are a few tips for making the most of your workday.
Create A Daily Schedule
One of the biggest benefits of an office routine is that moment when you first arrive at work, reflect on your goals, and plan tasks for the day. Mimic that moment at home. Create a daily schedule so you have a routine. Each morning, talk to your “co-workers” about the plan and goals for the day. Figure out what each person needs in terms of alone/quiet time or support. Try to coordinate tasks so that everyone takes breaks for meals and activities together. Write the daily goals and schedule and share them with your group. Try to keep your routines consistent from day-to-day.
We have lost many of the constructs that lend structure to our workday. For example, how do your colleagues know when you have “arrived at the office?” One of our consultants found when her husband started working from home, he would hop onto the computer as soon as he poured his morning coffee. Then he would work 12 hours straight. Start and end your workday as close to your regular schedule as possible. Let other people know when you “arrive at the office” and allow messages or inquiries to wait until then. Even though it’s easy to grab a quick breakfast and then get right to it while you’re still in your sweatpants, remember that you previously had a morning routine and commute to get your brain tuned up. Likewise, plan for some wind-down time to decompress and segue from work mode to home/relaxation mindset.
Work in Blocks of Time
I’ve found that most people are able to be focused and productive for brief periods. As you plan your day, try to work in blocks of time. Turn off all notifications, pop-ups, and other distractions during your working blocks. Schedule breaks for social media, news, etc. Use a timer like this to alert you when it’s time to transition so you can focus and don’t feel compelled to keep one eye on the clock.
Download this audiobook, “The Time Chunking Method” and listen while you work. You’ll learn some great ways to streamline your workflow!
Build In Reminders
The best result of working from home (aside from having the dog there) is that we all have more autonomy over our time. As you plan your day, build in reminders to stretch, stand up and/or walk around at least once every two hours. When your body gets fatigued, your brain will lose function. Regular movement will keep the blood and oxygen flowing to your brain and keep your energy sustained. Just as a change in physical position helps your productivity, give yourself a change of scenery. Stop working and take a lunch break in a different part of the house. Go out for a walk. You will find that your focus is improved when you get back to work. Make an effort to break the monotony!
Separate Home Life From Work Life
Lastly, finish your day by allowing time to keep work and home life separate. If you have a home office, close the door and walk away. If you work in a main part of the house, gather up as much of your work as possible tuck it away. This simple end of day practice will keep the stresses of work from creating mental distractions after work hours are done.
Stay tuned for our next installment in this series: Boosting Productivity through Self-care and Stress Reduction.