In these difficult times, we are facing all sorts of new challenges, worrying about and being away from loved ones, virtually having no social life, and for some, working from home.
Though it seems like a dream at first, typing away on your laptop, staying in your pajamas and rocking a messy ponytail, and endless snacks (who needed the office’s cookie jar?), you eventually get the reality-check you didn’t know you needed. Working from home is hard, disconnecting from your work life becomes trickier, and motivating yourself to continue when you think you deserve to make yourself a chocolate cake, are just some of the challenges you may face.
There are positive sides to working from home when done correctly – 85% of businesses that have implemented flexible work locations have said that this has made their company more productive. What if your work could transform your way of looking at things? And help your company on its way to success!
As working from home is set to become the new work life for many of us, here are some of the tips and tricks of the trade to stay productive. Y’know, instead of sipping copious amounts of coffee and scowering ASOS for clothes you and I both know you won’t wear until the lockdown is over. Time to take those sequin dresses out of your basket…
1. Create a routine
First things first, you need to create a routine. You may think that you can just take tasks as they’re thrown at you, but you need to find a routine, like the one that helps you achieve all your goals in the office. If your home life is organized, then your work life will match.
Start off your day with a simple routine, as if you were off to the office – make your bed, take a shower, have breakfast, and even get ready in your office outfit. It creates structure throughout the day and makes you feel ready to sit down and get to work! It also makes you feel at peace and motivated.
Start off by making your bed, jumping in the shower, throwing your hair up into a bun, just little things that will make your day seem more structured. For your commute – walk to your kitchen and grab yourself some breakfast, take time to chill out, before starting your day with a fresh pair of eyes.
2. Avoid the temptation
It is tempting to stay in pajamas all-day everyday and forget any memories of what a pair of jeans feels like. However, staying in pajamas or gym wear will definitely not help your productivity, in fact, they will slow you down and make you feel sleepy. At least don a dressy top for your Zoom calls, and wear a pair of jeans from time to time, to feel empowered and look like you mean business, even on those down days. Would you wear pajamas to the office? No! So there’s your answer.
3. Create a workspace
Working on your bed, slouching back into the depths of your sofa, may seem like a cozy and simple way to get on with work, but is that actually going to help? Finding a dedicated workspace will make you more productive, especially having a special place to sit comfortably. Be comfortable but professional – this will boost your productivity and your mood. On Zoom calls, you’ll look put-together, because your colleagues don’t really want to see you slouched into the depths of your couch. This is one of the many ways you have to discipline yourself when working from home.
Make your workspace more interesting – if you’re lucky enough to be able to transform a corner or a room into an office, get in some cute stationary and plenty of literature to read to get you inspired. Drop in a few self-development books and trusty files to help you on your way to working from home success!
However, keep your workspace professional, 11% of people surveyed and working from home in the US noticed something unprofessional in the background of a colleague’s video. Keep partners out of sight when possible, and don’t show off the washing up left over from the night before – that’s a no no!
4. Dedicate some time to your appearance
Who is going to see you when you’re at home? Well, between Zoom calls and Whatsapp group conversations and the odd Facetime in the evening, you’d be surprised!
46% of people surveyed and working from home in the US admitted they spend more time on their personal appearance before a video call.
Why stop at video calls? You are allowed to feel glamorous even when you’re not sitting in front of a webcam, treat yourself to a pamper session with a brand new hairstyle – give those hot rollers for a trial spin and find new hairstyles to rock when the lockdown is over. Now’s a better time than any to brush up on your skills.
Follow YouTube tutorials, and the beauty experts on Instagram to be more beauty independent. Learn to finally ace contouring and highlighting, try new makeup looks or even learn how to color treat your hair from home. You’ll soon be able to give your friends and family makeups with your new-found skills!
5. Be disciplined
As well as incorporating a routine into your personal life, you need to be disciplined in your work life. Treating yourself to a two-hour rest for half an hour’s work isn’t the key to a successful day! Instead, keep motivated, and be tough on yourself, prioritize your tasks so you keep within your timeframe all whilst achieving your daily targets.
Creating even breaks all whilst getting your daily tasks done will pave the way to a hard-working and successful lifestyle. Whilst creating structure, create one for your tasks – for every task, give yourself a break to have a quick walk outside, or in the house, and give yourself a breather. You’ll come back refreshed!
The problem is from working from home is that when you feel the work is piling up – when do you stop? Continuously working without any time for yourself is neither productive or satisfying. We all need to switch off and take some time out for ourselves. “I’ve also enjoyed taking advantage of my extra free time. I feel like I’m always on the go, so it’s been nice being able to catch up with friends I haven’t talked to in a while, watch TV shows I’ve been wanting to see and exercise more often” says All Things Hair US’ Caitlin Reddington.
Take that time out for Facetimes with your friends and family, playing games online (Skribbl is fun to play with 10 of your friends online), meditating, getting more active and trying out those YouTube workouts you’ve had in your “Watch Later” list for the past 6 months… Whatever makes you happy – do it!
7. If you can, go out
Within reason, getting some fresh air will make you feel a lot more human. Whether it’s just heading to the shops for some essentials, or going for a jog, getting a few sun rays and seeing the great outdoors will boost your confidence and make you more positive during these strange times. Use your lunch breaks to head to the park and get some fresh air, it’s soothing and relaxing, even after manic days where work does not seem to stop piling up! Once you’re back at your desk, you’ll feel ready to face whatever work throws at you!
8. Be grateful
Though working from home can get you down, it’s time to be grateful. How about setting up a journal for you to write about what you’re grateful for each time? Or things that have made you smile? The world might be bleak right now but you can bring some joy to your life.
Don’t let the trivial stuff get you down, and enjoy the little things! Don’t take the little things for granted, things that make up your regular daily routine. Whether it’s walking to the office, or grabbing lunch with a colleague, you’ll appreciate it a whole lot more once this difficult period is over! Now is also the good time to shake off those unnecessary fears, we are all worried or scared of something – but some of them are really just trivial. Learn to love the little things, and shake away the first-world woes we are used to whining about!
Appreciate your loved ones, make time for them, even when you can’t see them face to face, create a feel good playlist, and watch museum tours online to keep in a positive and fun frame of mind outside of work too!
9. Learn something new
Use your spare time to swot up! Learn a new skill and feel even more productive. Finding a new language could help you deal better with working from home as it will help you challenge yourself. It also has health benefits – research shows that older people who speak several languages are less likely to develop symptoms of dementia. The bilingual brain is more concentrated on the job in hand – so skills like these will help you remain focused at work too!
You can alternatively learn an active skill – get into yoga on Instagram lives, subscribe to your gym to watch work-out videos on social media, use this time to become a better version of yourself! Others are brushing up on their cooking skills – cooking is therapeutic and rewarding, whether you live alone or with someone, it’s a real pleasure to cook something tasty during this difficult time. Once you’re back in the office, you’ll impress everyone with your 5-star cooking!
10. Avoid interruptions
When isolating with your family, roommates or a special someone, sometimes things can get a little crazy. Perhaps your roommate is having a Zoom call themselves, the kids are running all over the place, or the pets are causing havoc – the important thing is to have no interruptions or distractions. Find a routine that will allow you and your loved ones be productive, all whilst making it fair. Otherwise, you won’t get into deep work, and will put off all the hefty tasks that you have been trying to avoid for weeks.
Also, only give yourself a break once you have finished a task, stopping and starting mid-way will be very distracting and it will be even harder to get back to work!
11. Do take breaks
Of course, we’re not saying to not take breaks at all! In fact, separating each task with a break is important to allow you time to let your mind wander, maybe even get a snack and a drink, send a few texts before getting back to work. If you spread out your breaks evenly, then you won’t have to worry about being distracted as much. According to an Airtasker survey, the most effective way to remain productive whilst working at home was to take breaks (37%). Look out for each other – if you feel that your colleague is sounding a little drained, get them to take a break and look after themselves, show some solidarity!
12. Keep in touch
Though the idea of incessant Zoom calls worries you, it’s good to keep in touch with your team to boost team moral but also help everyone feel like they’re on track. Team calls also help you all know what you can improve on and what is coming up – video calls are great for feeling closer to your colleagues and reconnecting during this time apart. For those of you who are a little camera shy, then audio calls and Whatsapp group conversations will do the trick!
For a fun take on the work group conversation, we also recommend creating a non-work related group chat with your colleagues to keep in touch with them and send your favorite memes and videos, perhaps even share your new recipes – it reunites the whole company and creates a special bond between you all! You can even make new work friends!