Working From Home: 5 Tips for Ultimate Productivity & Less Monotony . Minimize the Blur.
Updated: Apr 2
With so many of us working from home (WFH) and contributing to flattening the curve and social distancing, staying focused on our job responsibilities in this new and difficult environment, can be really challenging. Hey! Look, a squirrel!
For some of us, WFH is full on WTF.
To help you stay focused and productive, I’ve compiled some of my top work-from-home tips that you can easily do (in between all that laundry and cooking random things you’d normally never make).
Before getting to the list, the thing that’s really important to point out, because it’s the true reality of self -isolation, is that there may be 2 to 3 days that have blurred together. You haven’t showered or gone outside, and you haven’t eaten right, let alone gotten any physical activity other than walking to and from the bathroom or kitchen.
Sometimes you have no idea what day it is. It’s OK! Don’t beat yourself up because it is human nature to let go a little and not hold yourself as accountable when you’re totally on your own.
I’ve worked from home on and off for over 15 years and during that time I have read countless articles on ‘how to stay focused’ and ‘10 ways to be more productive from home’. So, how is this post going to be different? Well, I’m keeping things straightforward and achievable…these work for me. They are some basics that will help set you up for success especially if you are still new to this. Please share your tips, too!
For the sake of keeping things to the point, I’ve boiled it down to my top 5 tips! See what you think.
Top Tip #1: Create your dream schedule
WFH is now your opportunity to create the best schedule that works for you. One that you can stick with because you won’t need to conform to office policies or politics as much. However, this is not permission to indulge in your tendency to be unstructured or neglectful. You still have a job to do!
One of the great benefits of WFH is a little, or a lot, of newfound time that comes when you don’t have to commute! Choose to sleep-in or get a jump on your day. Home work out, make a gourmet breakfast, meditate, whatever. It’s time back and you get to decide how you use it.
When creating your dream schedule consider a few things:
What’s hard for you to do and when is the best time for you to get the hard stuff done?
Are you ready to be social first thing in the morning or do you need more time to warm up to that type of interaction?
Is there work that you need to do that requires collaboration with colleagues?
Maybe you’ll want to wake up early to check and answer your most important emails affording yourself more time to check out to walk the dog and drink your coffee in peace knowing that you’ve already addressed some things on your to do list. Or you decide to sleep in a little later but can do calls with clients and colleagues as soon as 9AM hits. With a little thought, you’ll be able to figure out your WFH Sweet Spot – the hours most productive for you.
But remember, that just because everyone is working from home, doesn’t mean everyone is available when you are, especially if you decide to start or end your workday later. Regardless of the hours you choose to keep, remember to “punch out”, log off and walk away, at some point (as difficult as that is). If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably check email on your phone later anyway.
Top Tip #2: Shower and get dressed
If you don’t normally shower in the morning, then ignore this tip, and do your thing. Still, I do my very best to follow this cliché of a tip as often as possible. Even for a seasoned WFH person like myself, showering and getting dressed in the morning is way easier in theory than in reality. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone right from my bed to my computer to quickly check email at 7:15AM, then all of a sudden, it’s noon (time to eat!).
Even if you don’t plan to leave your house, it’s still smart and logical to freshen up, especially since that Zoom, Teams, Slack, Google Hangouts, etc. meetings with video is inevitable, which leads to tip #3.
Top Tip #3: Turn video on during (some) meetings
I just recently started enjoying having video turned on during meetings. Not all meetings. There are some people I’m not ready to meet with face-to-face (don’t worry, it’s not you!). I used to be reluctant to do video calls, not really sure why. But now that we’re self-isolating, it’s energizing (not creepy) to see colleagues and peers and how they’re working through this too. Are they working from the living room? Backyard? A legit home office? Turning on that video allows us to be even more connected to each other - which we all need right now.
One more comment about video conferences – be sure to know what’s behind you and see what others will see. Remember, you cannot “unsee” things.
Top Tip #4: Take a break!
While this is another obvious one, so many times I get in the zone, time flies, and I forget to pause because I am so focused.
But, did you know that a short break will enhance your level of concentration? That’s right, and you only need about 5 to 10 minutes away from what you were doing.
Let’s remove the stigma from stepping away from your desk and taking a break from your work. You probably did it at the office more than you realize. So, every hour or two, be sure to stand up, stretch, take a walk and hydrate. Our bodies were not designed to sit all day. Plus, not to mention, we normally sit enough in the car, at our office desk, and on planes when life is ‘normal’.
But you already knew this. I’m just reminding you.
Top Tip #5: Embrace the unexpected
Almost every WFH Tips article I’ve read says to set up a proper home office free of intrusions, off-limits for housemates and a place without noisy distractions. Sounds a bit too idealistic for our current Stay Home situation.
Right now, as you are WFH, you really must accept reality and expect the unexpected. I live in Manhattan near the park, and there's still plenty of yelling kids; police, fire, and ambulance sirens; garbage trucks; cars unnecessarily honking, noisy neighbors, and the list goes on. And that’s outside of my apartment. Now, let’s factor in, your school-age child who needs help learning a new skill, or your partner or housemate who is on a conference call at the same time as you.
Typically, it’s distracting when a child or pet (not yours, of course) starts making a ruckus during a call. But with this new reality, we all need to take a breath and find the humor in it. Life has been turned upside down and what used to be embarrassing or uncomfortable can now enhance relationships with our coworkers, customers, prospects, and partners. If you get to see their kid or pet or spouse running around in the background, or even just seeing their office space (or not-so-office space), it’s another connection that helps us remember that these are unique circumstances and maybe even appreciate that long a$$ commute.
This was fun to write and helping to reinforce the things I need to do when I WFH. BTW, I purposefully left off so many other tips because I respect your intelligence and time, and you don’t need to be told to do the same things you’ve heard a million times and probably won’t do anyway, or already are doing and don’t need to be told to do them again.
My goal here is to help you minimize the blur and figure out how to stay responsible to your job. But if you do happen to fall off, just please be sure to brush your teeth.
Have another Top Tip? I would love to hear it! Please share and leave a comment below.
Joe Federbush, President, EVOLIO Marketing
For over 20 years, Joe Federbush's primary current responsibilities are to market, consult on, and design strategic research and measurement programs that help companies, show organizers/associations, and event producers measure their return on investment (ROI) and experience (ROX) for their trade show and event programs in a highly cost-effective way.