Work From Home Tips: Navigating a New Normal
By: Kim Lorang
While working from home seems enticing for those who do not do it, it’s not always as easy as it may seem to be.
Check out these work from home tips for maintaining your productivity and eliminating distractions while adjusting to working outside of the office.
While there are certainly many positives to being able to work from home there are also struggles, many of which you may not think about until you’ve done it.
To make working from home even trickier for some, parents may suddenly find themselves becoming a full-time, work-from-home, homeschooling parents. None of those hats are easy to wear, so put them together and things can feel overwhelming quickly!
Whether you’re working from home with a mess of people or not, the first step to productively working from home is to make a plan and stick to it.
After-all, a dream without a plan is just a wish!
First things first, take some time to figure out how you will collaborate and communicate with your co-workers.
Once you’ve figured out the logistics of working from home, do your best to create a designated workspace in your home. The fewer distractions the better.
While there are no shortage of work from home tips out there, one of the most important tips may simply be to stick to your regular hours and avoid trying to multi-task as much as possible.
Sure, it may seem like a great idea to throw in a load of laundry while you’re working from home. But sometimes, that quick jog to the laundry room turns into spending an hour away from your computer, and now you’re scrambling to catch up.
While it’s important to start work around your regular time and fight the urge to do other things, it’s equally important to remember to take breaks and take your full lunch break.
Sometimes working from home requires more frequent brain breaks, because you’re often stripped of the social aspect you typically enjoy in your office. Sitting at a computer with no human interaction all day (for days on end!) can start to feel isolating. So, make sure you’re taking breaks once in a while- go for a short walk, or phone a friend.
Here are more work from home tips to help you make the most of your time:
- Eliminating Distractions: Cell Phone Edition. While working from home it is important to stay connected with coworkers, as well as family and friends. Cell phones allow us to not only communicate with the outside world, they also tend to be a great source of distraction. Instead of putting your phone next to you, try keeping it on a charger on the other side of the room, essentially turning it into a corded phone. This will allow you to avoid picking it up frequently and will also force you to use it on the other side of the room, which will likely cut down on usage.
- Ask for what you need. Perhaps you’re not used to working on a laptop, and you need a mouse to make things more comfortable. Keep in mind that if you’re only working from home for a short period of time asking for new office furniture would be excessive, but if there are small things within reason that would help you to be more comfortable and productive, it won’t hurt to ask for them.
- If you’re a parent navigating work-from-home waters while children are also home (and perhaps are doing e-learning at home), try having a family meeting to come up with a schedule for everyone. Set clear expectations and boundaries. Consider planning brain breaks for certain times and plan to play a quick game or head outside for some fresh air together.
- Make a game plan for each day of the week. Once you complete a task, contemplating what you should dig into next can end up taking more time than it should, and sometimes doing so slows you down just enough to throw you off of your productivity game. Instead, start your day listing the tasks that need to be done and the order in which you will complete them.
- Take advantage of the perks of working from home. Blast your favorite music. Enjoy a coffee break with a friend on the front porch. Throw some chocolate chip cookies in the oven at lunch time and enjoy a fresh baked snack in the afternoon.
- Consider investing in noise cancelling headphones or ear buds. Depending on your tolerance for distraction, things like barking dogs or kids playing in the other room could really bog you down. If this is the case, blocking that noise out may be a great way to get more done.
- Be strict about your hours, and your workspace. Sometimes it can be hard to work from home because the line between work and your personal life is so blended. When you’re done for the day, be done! Turn off your computer and fight the urge to bring your laptop with you into the living room while you watch some evening TV. Your work will be there for you the next day!
- Consider creating an autoresponder. If you don’t typically work from home, you may find working from home to be hard to get used to. You may need to take more frequent breaks, or work slightly different hours, or block off your time differently for optimal productivity. Consider putting an autoresponder in place to let people know that you’re working remotely and will get back to them as soon as you’re able to. The more you can manage people’s expectations, the better!
- Stay connected to your co-workers. Consider starting a chat thread so everyone can check in with one another and leave non-work related comments. If you’re able, plan an outing so everyone can get together and see one another face-to-face.
- Maintain a positive perspective. Whether you’re working from home because you choose to, or your company had to temporarily close down the office, or you’re sick, look at the positives instead of dwelling on the difficulties. Yes, the challenges you face when working from home may be overwhelming and frustrating, but there are positives that outweigh the negatives. The better you prepare (and stick to your plan) the sooner you will find a rhythm that works well for you (and others around you!).
There are bound to be hiccups and distractions and missteps, and some of them are likely to happen at the most inopportune times (like when you’re on a video chat) but try to remember you find them far more upsetting than anyone else does.
At the end of the day, try your best, and extend plenty of grace- with yourself, with your co-workers, and with your family. Not only are you bumbling through a new routine, but those around you are adjusting to your new circumstances as well.
And the next time someone you’re on a conference call with begins apologizing profusely because their dog started barking, or they had to run and sign for a package, or a child awoke from a nap early, extend them grace too, because now you’ll understand their struggles.
We hope these work from home tips will help you navigate your new normal a little easier and more effectively!