2020 brought a lot of changes and challenges, no matter where you work. Some essential workers had to continue going into their workplaces, while others were lucky enough to start working remotely, and it seems that a lot of companies have discovered that remote employees aren’t all that bad. Just take a look at Google – contract employees at this gigantic company had their remote work orders extended until summer 2021, whilst some companies maintained remote working for some employees, even until now.
Working remotely comes with all the usual things like emailing people, participating in crowded Zoom calls, sending faxes, doing the laundry, sitting in bed, sneaking a beer, and not wearing pants…sound familiar? Let’s just say that it takes a whole lot of self-determination to keep productive, engaged, and challenged when you’re all alone, surrounded by your own things, in a place that used to be your refuge away from work.
So, how can you keep focused at home? Let us help you out. If you’re struggling with keeping on task, these tips will make your life easier.
1. Plan your day
Before you sign off for a new day, plan your next one. This way, when you sit down with your cup of coffee and a fresh morning outlook, you won’t have to pause and dig through the previous day’s work, wondering where you left off. Without a plan, it’s so easy to get sucked into non-priority tasks. Consider trying tools like Trello, Google Calendar, or Asana to help you with planning.
2. Organize your surroundings
To maintain concentration while working from home, you need to set the right mood. Many people work from their couch or their bed. If you occasionally work from home because you want to lounge in your comfy chair and hoodie, that might actually give you a creativity boost. But if you work at home day in and day out, think about setting up a workspace like you would at your office. This means having:
- A well-lit desk
- A comfortable chair
- A dedicated space for office paraphernalia: pens, notebooks, a printer, and a friendly office plant
3. Make a dedicated workspace
You’ve probably heard the advice that you shouldn’t work in your bedroom, or anywhere you consider your personal space to relax, a hundred times before. While that’s true, it can be difficult if you live in a small space. However, there are often more possibilities than you realize, and if all else fails, use the kitchen table. Think about making your work-zone in your:
- Laundry room
- Hallway (use a collapsible desk)
4. Music can help…or not?
Listening to music while working can be great, but it can also be distracting. The key is to pick the right music. There are playlists that are called “concentration” or “work music” on services like Spotify that are perfect for these occasions, or you can compile your own personalized playlist.
If music doesn’t quite work for you, but you don’t like to work in silence, try natural sounds such as waterfalls and rainforests. Prefer to feel like they’re in the middle of hustle and bustle, as if you were in an office or a busy cafe? There are playlists that recreate both of these sounds, take a listen! Finding the perfect background noise for you can greatly increase your productivity.
5. Personal office equipment
A basic home office needs a laptop and Wi-Fi to be functional – but things like a desk, a chair and additional screens will depend on you. You can choose from whatever makes you work better and make your day more productive and fun:
- Stand-up desk
- Professional desk chair
- Effective and bright LED lighting
- A coffee station
- Teleconference station with lighting and a good sound system
- Keyboard – even if you’re working on a laptop, it’s a good idea to set it up higher
- Your favorite mouse – instead of your laptop touchpad
- Laptop stand
Without some of these items, you may suffer from back pain or eyestrain after long stretches of work, but remember to think about fun additions to your home office too, such as comfortable slippers or essential oil diffusers.
6. Hourly breakdown of work
Plan your day not only by making a list, but by listing what you’d like to get done and when. It will help keep you on track. It’s also best to plan a mid-morning break and a lunch break – otherwise, your whole day will stretch out into a strange break-like work day, where you will feel compelled to sit at your computer but eat lunch at the same time. This doesn’t work well in the office or at home. Have dedicated times to get up, stretch, and get your mind off of things. It will make you more productive in the long run.
Unless you’re the company’s social media manager, chances are that when you’re browsing Instagram you probably shouldn’t be. It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole, we know. Set up social media blockers on your mobile devices with a timer. Planning breaks is great for motivation and sanity, so allow yourself some social media time as a reward for accomplished tasks.
8. Dress comfortably
Dressing comfortably doesn’t mean staying in your pajamas, which can actually be demotivating. Get dressed for work – but keep it comfortable and casual. Why not decide on a work wardrobe; specific clothes that you only wear when working. This will help you to further separate your work and personal life.
9. Keep in touch
Plan activities with your remote co-workers. Zoom or Whereby happy hours or chat parties have become the norm. You can also set common goals and keep track of them together. This can include anything from jogging to a fitness goal or organizing an after-hours book club.
This keeps you connected to your team on a personal level, and it’s so much better to work with the feeling that there’s “someone out there”.
We hope these tips will help you create a more effective workspace and, in turn, boost your productivity and overall well-being.
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