Week Six: We know our favorite virtual yoga instructor, we’ve perfected ways to entertain the kids, and we’ve found the best lighting in the house for Zoom calls. We have stocked up on our favorite (unhealthy) snacks. We are adjusting.
But are we performing at our best? Working from home became the new normal in a flash- before we knew it, home was work and work was…different. We are navigating new coworkers, new environments, and new methods of communication to maintain a sense of normalcy and community among our fellow social-distancers.
During this time, it’s natural to think that with more time, we must be more productive. But it’s also important to take this time to decide what productive will mean to you and your company while we have a moment to reassess our “normal”. Whether that means reevaluating your work from home flexibility, the manner you communicate with customers or clients, your overall social media presence, or the healthy snacks you keep in the break room. Is there really a correct way to perfect working from home? Or is it different for everyone?
There are certain steps we can take to make sure we feel productive, healthy, and perhaps even a little normal while we all work from home, at work and in our day to day.
Claim your territory
In a new space, it’s important to find your space, and make it your own. This can range from a desk, to the kitchen counter, to your man cave. What really counts is you have space to stay organized, minimal distractions, and you have what you need to get your work done – and that you designate this area as your workspace. When possible, keep this space separate from where you eat, sleep and relax. Bonus points for being close to the kitchen.
Soak in the Vitamin D
Try to maintain the natural lighting in your workspace. Vitamin D has been proven to increase productivity. Being near the sun can help with your energy level and increase focus. Working near a window or even outside, can help you stay on task and keep the ball rolling. But don’t forget your SPF 30.
Know Wednesday from Monday
I mean Tuesday… The first thing that helps significantly is making your own schedule or to-do list. Write down your tasks for the day or week and set up time to commit to each one. This will help keep track of your projects, meetings, and add structure. Not to mention, distinguish the days of the week.
Don’t Go Radio Silent
Turning in your projects on time and maintaining the same quality is one thing, but during this time, water cooler banter is significantly different. It’s an aspect of work employees might not notice but could be significantly missing. Make time for Zoom chats or conference calls that are simply to check in and have conversations with each other. This can help break up the day, and give your brain a break, which will help with productivity in the long run.
Now is the time to take advantage of your back porch, your walkable neighborhood, or the lakes and parks in your area. You don’t have to exercise to enjoy the outdoors- although that can help. Simply being in the fresh air will help to cure your cabin fever – while social distancing of course.
Learn How to Cook
Ever want to learn how to make fresh pasta, fried chicken, or grandma’s famous apple pie? Or maybe you just want to learn how not to burn your Ramen noodles. Either way, you can use this extra time to be one with the kitchen. You can find endless recipes online to find your next cuisine to impress your guests- on your Zoom call.
Being creative can mean many things to different people, and there’s a million and one ways to do it. Painting, poetry, and learning a musical instrument are only the beginning. Being creative in some way, shape, or form is a healthy way to express yourself and feel productive by creating something new. Sidewalk chalk, noodle art, and TikTok dances all count too.
Let’s be honest, working from home poses another issue we’re all likely struggling with, at least a bit, and that’s staying focused throughout the day. That doesn’t mean you should be testing out telehealth to get an ADD diagnosis, it just means we have more on our plates than we’re accustomed to and that’s a difficult adjustment for even the most tunnel-driven folks.
Here are some tips on how to get back on track when your mind wanders.
Get Your Workout In
The benefit of working from home is flexibility. If you hit a wall and find your mind wandering, take a break and get your workout in. If you’re taking advantage of those few extra minutes of sleep there’s a good chance your morning workouts have fallen by the wayside, so go for a walk/run, jump on your Peloton or do some body weight exercises. As we mentioned above, getting outdoors or getting a bit of exercise can help increase focus and productivity. The experts say it takes 23 minutes to get back on track after getting distracted… the perfect amount of time to work on your summer bod.
Put the Break in Lunch Break
It’s easy to pick up your laptop and move it to the kitchen with you while you eat your sandwich, but this isn’t a break and we all need a mental break during the day. So, leave your computer, and your work, at your workspace and disconnect from it for at least 30 minutes. Catch up on the latest episode of Ozark or scroll through your Instagram feed. It doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure it’s not work-related.
Give Yourself a Hard Stop
When we’re working from home one thing tends to bleed into another. It’s easy to walk away from finishing a report for a client to start dinner and then come back to the report after you’ve finished dinner or tucked the kids in for the night. Instead of mixing things, give yourself a hard stop. If your workday ends at 5 p.m. close your computer at 5 p.m. and enjoy the rest of your evening. By giving yourself a smaller window to accomplish your tasks you’re actually forcing your brain to stay focused on the job at hand and ultimately be more productive in a shorter period of time.
Don’t be disappointed if, during this time, you don’t write the next great American novel, develop the next ground breaking app, or perfect your half-court shot. Your productivity may look different than how you imagined it would, but with these pointers, you can keep track of your productivity, and stay healthy, both physically and mentally, while working from home.
Before you know it, we’ll be back in the office.