With so many people working remotely, being productive can sometimes be a challenge. Creating an office-like environment is a good start. Try to separate your business space from your personal space as much as you can. Read on for more tips on productivity while you’re working at home.
Old Schedule or New Schedule?
There are two ways to best schedule your day when you’re working from home. One is to mimic your usual workday as much as possible. Get up at the same time as you usually would. If you normally exercise and eat breakfast in the morning before work, stick to that schedule.
The other way to schedule your day is to evaluate your new normal. If you used to exercise after work, consider energizing yourself in the morning instead. Now that you’ve reduced your commute time, you might find it works well for you! Get to your home “office” around the same time as you used to.
Working with the same schedule is helpful when you work with a team in the same time zone, and you have meetings or calls with colleagues, clients, or management. Your company might require you to keep roughly the same schedule as before. Staying in the same groove helps keep the boundary between work and home clearer.
However, if you’re able to, you might consider shifting your hours to take advantage of the time when you’re most productive. If you’re a morning lark and your most productive time is earlier in the day, take advantage of that. Use the hours for focused work. By contrast, if you’re a night owl, try adjusting your schedule to take advantage of the afternoon or evening hours when you’re most productive.
You might be amazed at how much you can get done when aligned with your natural circadian rhythm. A “weird” schedule works well for companies with colleagues distributed across the globe. Maybe you’re too early for US peers, but you’re able to connect with the UK or European office in the morning.
Whichever schedule you choose, make sure that you’re also scheduling in breaks. According to Cal Newport, in his book Deep Work, most people have only three or four hours a day of focused, deep work. Give yourself a chance to revive after intense focus and play with the kids, pets, and spouse. Take time to eat and go for a short walk to refresh in the afternoon or whenever your slump happens.
Dress pants optional?
Wearing formal business clothing from head to toe might feel strange for days spent working at home. But, there is something to be said for keeping up your professional image during video conferencing. For many clients and coworkers, seeing you in your sweats can have a jarring effect on how they perceive your professional role. Also, if you dress as you usually would at the office, it helps you mark the boundary of work vs. home. Remember the TV reporter caught wearing a blazer and shirt but no pants? If you’re fully dressed in business casual, you don’t have to worry about any accidental Zoom flashes!
Make sure you have an ergonomic workspace
You might have worked remotely, occasionally, before the corona virus crisis. Sitting on the sofa with your laptop is fine for the odd day when you’re not in the office.
But when you’re working from home all week, you need to set up your computer, desk, and chair so that you don’t harm your shoulders, back, and wrists.
Even after the crisis passes, more employees are likely to work from home, so investing in the proper equipment will pay off.
Soft tissue injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome may take longer to heal than broken bones. You want to avoid them as much as possible. Not only do they prevent you from working, but they prevent you from doing things with your family and friends.
You can find more details about an ergonomic setup here. The center of the computer screen should be eye level when you’re sitting correctly with a straight neck. Your elbows are at a 90-degree angle when you’re typing and mousing, and your wrists are straight.
In other words, you can’t work ergonomically on just your laptop! You’ll need a monitor if nothing else can put your keyboard at the correct height and not strain your neck while typing. Most laptop keyboards are a little challenging to type on correctly. Adding on an external keyboard and mouse, particularly an ergonomic mouse, will help enormously.
Your chair height should allow your knees at a 90-degree angle, your thighs supported, and your feet at rest on the floor. Shorter workers often need a footrest, so their legs don’t dangle when their knees are at the right height.
If you’ve got the necessary equipment (or you’re willing to buy it), consider a sit/stand setup. Sitting all day is unhealthy, so the easier you can make it to switch between standing and sitting, the better. Creating a tread-desk might be worth looking into, especially if you already have a treadmill at home. Switch out your chair for a stability ball or wobble stool for some time during the day.
The key to productivity, both at home and at the office, is to reduce distractions. Make it as easy as possible to get your work done. Once you’re interrupted, it takes nearly 25 minutes to get back into focus! Stay one task as much as possible, and you’ll get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time. When you’re at home, that’s more time for yourself and your family.
Your phone may be the most distracting tool of all. Place it face down to hide the notifications. Turn off push notifications from any apps on your phone. If you have a work phone, delete any social media apps unnecessary for your job.
Create and enforce boundaries while you’re working to avoid interruptions as much as possible. That’s why having a room with a door that you can close is best for working at home, but that’s not always possible or useful. Make sure everyone knows when you’re at your desk that it’s work time (or whatever signal you have that you’re “at work” and not “at home”), and you’re not to be disturbed.
You have to enforce this boundary with yourself, too. If your kids see on you on Facebook while you’re at your desk for “work time,” obviously not working, they’ll think they can come in and bug you.
If you have someone else at home with you to take care of them, that’s great. Otherwise, they may need to be crated or shut out of the room so that you can work in peace. Play with them on your scheduled breaks too, so they get some time to interact with you. Even cats need playtime to stay socialized and healthy.
Here at Platt Wealth Management we’re working remotely, and we’re happy to answer questions or schedule a virtual meeting. Feel free to call us at 619.255.9554 or email us.