Working from home used to be considered a luxury, since it came with the benefits of creating your own environment, comfort, and methods of productivity. It was a work situation sought-after by many. You could lounge around in your pyjamas, have fresh home-made meals, and generally, create your own schedule throughout your day. It also meant you gained time back from hours spent in rush hour traffic.
Yet, with the global COVID-19 pandemic occurring worldwide, the virtual office has become the “new normal”. Millions of people are now working from home, and many are finding it challenging to stay productive and motivated.
Although being away from your workplace and colleagues may be a difficult adjustment, there are some strategies you can use to boost productivity at home.
1. Wake Up Early
For most of us, we are more productive in the morning — post coffee and before lunch. Research by Pope (2016) confirms this. His research included a study conducted that indicated students enrolled in morning math and English lectures had higher GPA’s compared to students in afternoon lectures. Pope (2016) analyzed data from 1.8 million records belonging to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Given such findings, it is best for you to take advantage of this window of increased productivity.
This can be achieved through various efforts, such as:
- Setting morning alarms to wake up at a specific time
- Structuring your work to tackle the most important tasks first.
- Scheduling your most difficult or time-consuming tasks before the afternoon hours.
- Setting an alarm and having a consistent wake-up time also lets your body and mind adjust to a routine which further improves your work productivity.
2. Get Dressed
It can be tempting for you to stay in your pyjamas while working from home. While taking a few days to work in your cozy pyjamas might be a good idea, getting dressed up for work allows you to maintain a routine and sets a tone for the day which can improve productivity. Keeping a routine allows you to maintain a feeling of control and sense of normality, which can be beneficial in times of uncertainty. Getting dressed for work does not mean wearing a suit. It simply means getting dressed for the day and occasionally ditching the all-day pyjamas. As such, you may notice your productivity significantly improve.
3. Make a Schedule
At work, our lives can be very fast-paced and scheduled by the hours and minutes. Making a schedule when working from home is very important as it gives you a sense of control, productivity, and structure. Ensure you schedule your work tasks and that the workload you create is manageable. When creating a schedule, it is important to consider things beyond work, such as breaks to stretch or move around the house, as well as giving yourself a lunch slot as you normally would. Additionally, schedules allow you to focus on one task at a time and provide a clear outline of your daily accomplishments once completed.
4. Do Not Bring It Home
While working from home, it can be difficult at times to get carried away and continue working longer hours than you normally would. Many also tend to develop a habit of revisiting work after-hours. Once you set your work schedule for the day, make sure that you unplug from work once the day is done to the best of your ability. This includes, for example, checking work emails if possible, only during the workday, and ensuring you are taking care of yourself and your needs as well.
The risks of burnout are high when we spend too much time at the office and do not take care of ourselves. This has both psychological and physical risks; however, this same burnout can occur at home if we do not disconnect from our work. A study conducted by Belkin (2016) suggests that if people do not make the effort to disconnect from their work and take time to recover, they risk higher rates of burnout, job loss, risky behaviour, reduced productivity, amongst other negative outcomes. Therefore, while working virtually, also ensure that you disconnect when needed.
5. Make a Space
Create a designated workspace and ensure that it is comfortable and can properly accommodate the demands and needs of your work. When selecting a place in the house to work from, it is important to consider spots that will limit distractions and noise, if possible. Having a quiet, comfortable, and accommodating workspace is crucial to being productive during a workday from home. Additionally, try to designate a space that is not, for example, your bedroom or living room which are places you designate for sleep, rest, and leisure. This ensures that even within your home, you are able to create boundaries, and not bring work home.
If you’re feeling anxious, please check out my other blog post on reducing anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are here for you if you need support during this challenging time. Contact us today to book a phone or online therapy session today.