COVID-19 has brought working remotely into the mainstream, with many employers encouraging their employees to work from home in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus. For many of us, this concept is pretty new and we may not have gotten used to carrying out our professional duties from our houses with the whole family around. Here are 3 tips that will help you get more comfortable with working from home. You may even see a boost in your productivity as a result of changing how you get things done.
Trigger your brain into “Work Mode”
The human mind is wired to follow habits and routines. It associates certain activities and settings with specific emotions. This is why you can walk past a restaurant and immediately start feeling hungry with just one whiff of what’s cooking. Your brain associates the smell of food with eating. It then “reminds” you that it’s hungry even if you were not consciously aware. When we step into the office or put on a suit in the morning, your brain starts getting into the mindset that you are going to work. When you are working from home you no longer have these triggers. There is no clear difference between another relaxing off day and one where you are expected to work.
One of the best ways of preparing your brain to get into “work mode” is to make sure you have a dedicated working space set up. This could be a particular room in your house or even a corner in one of your rooms. The idea is to ensure that when you are in this space, you focus on work. Try and make this space as distraction-free as possible. you can put up a sign on on the door or wall, or ensure that the spot you choose is out of the way os most activities. When you are in your workspace only perform tasks that are directly related to work. This means no Netflix watching or shopping for new furniture. Your mind will eventually associate being in the space with working.
Make a “Work From Home” schedule and stick to it
When working in an office setting, there are other people who help you stay focused on the task at hand. You have discussions with colleagues and meetings to attend that help break up your day into chunks that can help you manage your time. When you are at home however you are solely responsible for organizing your schedule and adhering to it. This can seem difficult with the many distractions that appear; be it chores that need to be done or children that need to be fed.
A schedule that lays out blocks of time for specific tasks is a great way to keep yourself focused. Ensure that your schedule includes all the major activities you need to do for work. Also factor in your responsibilities at home. Share this schedule with your coworkers and family so that they know what times you are available for certain activities. Stick to this schedule as much as possible. However, also leave room for changes as needed depending on the time you have available and the things you need to accomplish. Fit in small and frequent breaks into your day so that you avoid fatigue and keep your energy levels up.
Communicate & collaborate as much as possible
Communication is always important in sustaining healthy and beneficial relationships both personally and professionally. In a situation where these two worlds overlap, it becomes even more important to communicate effectively. Completing tasks for work requires that you share ideas easily. Face to face conversations is usually the easiest way to float and debate ideas however, physical distance makes this impossible. This is where video conferencing and video calls come in handy. Try as much as possible to use video when engaging with your colleagues. This helps retain a sense of familiarity with them and makes it feel more like a conversation even as you work from home.
Use multiple channels depending on the context of the communication. Emails, for example, are very good for final decisions and keeping track of important conversations. Messaging platforms like Slack or WhatsApp might be more appropriate for quick consultations or general chats with your coworkers. The important thing is to make sure that you are sharing as much as possible so as to keep everyone up to speed and aligned with the tasks at hand.
You also need to communicate with your family. At the most basic level, you need to have a way to explain what assistance you need to work from home e.g. limiting the amount of noise they make. You will also need to engage and talk with your family members especially if you have small children. They are excited to have the chance for extra playtime. You must explain why it is important for you to focus on your job. Make them understand that you are not ignoring them.
We cannot be sure when the COVID 19 threat will pass and we can get back to our usual routines. We can, however, adjust our lives to ensure that we make the best out of the situation. Using these tips as well as other strategies to keep your productivity up even as you work from home ensures that there is continuity in our lives.
If you have any more tips for staying focused and productive while working from home, we would love to hear them. Leave a comment below or share with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. #StaySafe and remember, MYDAWA is your brand of choice in health and wellness.