As many of us have been thrust into working from home, we could all use some insight into how to add some structure to our day, minimize the chaos, and maximize our productivity. The following are tips to help make your work-from-home days more manageable – and enjoyable!
Develop a morning self-care routine
The first hour of the day sets the tone for the rest of it, so getting up a little earlier will allow time to start your day out right. Take a shower, drink your coffee, meditate, stretch, walk your dog – before checking your phone. Give yourself a chance to wake up peacefully without the buzz of email and social media and see what a difference it makes in your outlook for the day.
Get dressed for the workday
It might seem easier to wear sweats while you work from home but getting dressed into clothes you would wear to the office helps to punctuate the day, defining “work mode” from “home mode”. Not only will this set you up to be more productive but adding this daily habit into your morning routine will ensure that you’re always Zoom-ready! Another bonus to getting dressed in the morning: You get to change into your comfy clothes at the end of the day, signaling to your body that it’s time to relax and recharge.
Create a schedule and make it known to others
Establishing a boundary around your work hours will help with your work/life balance and better allow you to plan what you can realistically get done in a day, professionally and personally. Setting up a structure for your day and for the week will keep you from wondering “Where did my time go?” Remember to be clear with your family and friends about your work hours to help avoid distractions and maintain focus.
Take regular breaks during your workday
Schedule true breaks into your day to help you stay productive while working from home. Once the day gets going, it can be hard to remember to eat, drink, and take care of yourself. Taking a 5-15 minute break every 1.5 hours will make all the difference and will help to refresh your brain. Try to stay away from screens during this time to give your mind and eyes a break. And be sure to schedule a proper lunch break as well!
Create a workspace that works for you
Choose a spot in your home that is comfortable and free from distraction and noise (as much as possible), and check that you have a strong Wi-Fi connection and accessible outlets. Invest in a desk and a chair that will be comfortable for long periods and be sure that your background is as professional as possible for video calls. Designate this area as your “work zone” to help create a mental boundary between work and play.
Set up a task management system
Whether you use Google Tasks, Reminders, Slack, or a spiral notebook, find a system that works for you and stick to it. Once you get in the habit of using it, you will find that an effective task management system will become an integral part of your productive workday. Crossing completed tasks off your list can be extremely satisfying, igniting the reward center of your brain and releasing feel-good chemicals which will keep you happy while you work. At the close of the day, add any remaining items to your list and highlight the morning priorities to make sure tomorrow runs smoothly.
Don’t blur the lines between work-life and home-life
Once the workday starts, resist the urge to do the dishes and laundry. It can be tempting to multitask throughout the day, however switching back and forth from work tasks and home tasks can squelch productivity. Pretend you’re at the office. Make time for self-care breaks but treat your working hours with respect. You’ll have a more productive (and sane) day.
Break up your day with fresh air
Use one of your breaks to step outside and breathe some fresh air. Studies show that even a few minutes in the outdoors reduces stress levels – and who doesn’t need a little help with that? So, step outside and let nature reset your brain and your attitude.
Let the Sunshine In
Allow as much natural light into your workspace as possible. Putting your desk near a window and opening up the blinds in the morning will signal to your brain that it’s time to be productive. Exposing your body to sunlight in the morning and throughout your day will also help you sleep better at night. Even when filtered through windows on overcast days, sunlight will continue to have an effect. No access to windows? Change your bulbs to ones which produce full spectrum light similar to sunshine to keep your mood boosted.
We hope you find these ideas for working from home helpful.
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