We are now in April of 2020 and our world has been completely turned upside down. Most countries and states are issuing mandatory stay at home orders for everyone. In the United States, all non-essential jobs and offices have been ordered to shut down or work remotely. Many companies are transitioning their employees to work from home in order to keep their businesses running. For some people working from home sounds great, but some may also be resistant and struggle with this new change. Staying productive when you work at home during COVID-19 quarantine can be challenging for some. Making the transition from working in an office to at home might be intimidating or stressful. With these 10 tips, you can work productively during the COVID-19 quarantine.
1. Set a Morning Routine
Most people have a morning routine when regularly attending work in an office. Your normal routine should be applied with a few moderate changes to your new way of working remotely. It is important to continue with your regular morning routine to help you feel like nothing drastic has changed. It helps you prepare your brain for work and for what is to come for the day. If you wake up and eat breakfast then brush your teeth, then do that. If you drink a cup of coffee then shower, continue doing that. Grooming yourself as you regularly do will help you wake up and prepare for the day.
2. Get Dressed for the Day
One of the worst things and one of the hardest things to resist when working from home is to stay in your pajamas or loungewear. Our brains need a mental start and end to working. If we wake up and begin working in the same clothes we sleep in, it will be hard for our brains to recognize working and become less motivated.
Getting dressed for your day makes you feel like you have a purpose and helps jumpstart your brain for the day. You technically do not have to necessarily dress professionally as if they were going to the office. Dress in a way you would be comfortable leaving the house and your coworkers seeing you. If you typically put on makeup or do your hair, then continue doing that during your daily remote routine. Additionally, another helpful tip to trick your brain into work mode is putting on shoes. Wearing shoes symbolizes action and not relaxation. This may help you stay focused and aware. Any type a shoe should be fine, just not a shoe you typically wear for relaxation like slippers.
Getting dressed for your big workday at home is not just important for your personal motivation and the brain. There are some other things to consider. It is 2020, the age of technology, so companies are utilizing chats and video conferences across all spectrums. Getting dressed and looking presentable to your boss, employees or coworkers is important.
3. Have a Designated Work Space
When working from home, having a designated work pace is probably the most important tip in this list. In order to stay productive when working remotely, you want to be in a comfortable location where you can focus. Your workspace should be clean, organized, and away from anything that could distract you from getting what you need to get done.
It is not necessary to have a home office to work from home successfully. Good locations include the kitchen, near a window, dining room, or patio. You want to choose a space that has adequate lighting with enough space for your computer, notebook/planners, drink, and whatever other tools you might need for your job. Make sure you have a comfortable chair that will not provide you with pain or discomfort throughout the day. It is also important to leave your workspace when eating or taking breaks. You want your brain to know that that space is for work only and not for when you are ready to relax.
Rooms to Avoid
Rooms to avoid keeping your designated workspace would be your bedroom or the living room. Your bedroom is usually a place for relaxation, and it is personal. It is very important to keep your work separate from your personal life. Proceeding to do your work in your bedroom may have a negative impact on your work or your sleep. Additionally, you may want to avoid setting up your workstation in the living room as well. The living room tends to be the room where everyone in the household spends their time or where you like to unwind at the end of the day. The living room tends to have distractions like the television, the couch, or gaming devices. You want to save those things as rewards for the end of your workday.
4. Make Sure you Have the Right Tools
Having the proper tools at home are essential to working remotely. Of course, you want to have a working computer that can handle whatever programs or websites you use throughout your workday. But there are other tools to consider that will make your workday at home much easier. When you work at home during COVID-19, you might not have the everyday tools you use. Using a mouse with your laptop may give you the same work ethic and feeling you have when using your office computer. If you do not have the necessary tools at your disposal, be sure to ask your company to possibly provide one or a loan one.
Additionally, you want to make sure you have all the necessary programs you might need to have a productive workday. Make sure to download these things to your home laptop or computer. It is also important to have communication apps or systems downloaded in order to speak with your staff or coworkers easily. Excellent tools of communication via computer are programs like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or multiple other systems. This way you can stay in contact with your coworkers, ask quick questions through chat, host/participate in webcam meetings, all while practicing safe social distancing during this national pandemic. Also, through Microsoft Teams and other programs, you can have a separate phone number that works through the app so you do not necessarily have to use your home or cell phone number.
5. Schedule your Hours and Breaks
Scheduling out your day is imperative to a productive workday. You should have your days planned out similar to what your days look like at the office. This can include meetings. phone calls, deadlines, assignments, reports, or whatever else one does during their workday. Make sure you pick finalized hours and stick to them every day. For example, if you start your workday at 8:00 am normally, sit down at your workstation and begin your day at 8:00 am. If you normally get off at 5, start wrapping up your work 10 minutes to so you train your brain to know quitting time is at 5:00 pm. It is important to set mental boundaries and schedule through your day.
Planning out your breaks is also an essential tip in planning out your workday. Whether you work full time or part-time in an office, you have regularly scheduled breaks you must take throughout the day ordered by law. While you work from home during COVID-19, you might forget to take regular breaks. Sometimes, people that typically work from home do not take these breaks and usually work through the day or eat in front of their computer while working. This routine will eventually tire one out and make them less motivated when working from home. If you normally eat lunch at 1:00 pm, take your lunch then. Be sure to walk away from the computer and eat in another room, browse social media, watch some videos, go outside. You should give yourself a couple of 10-minute breaks throughout the day to reset the brain in order to continue for the rest of the day.
6. Be Organized
If you are not used to working from home you might find it difficult to stay organized at first. Some useful tools would include using items like calendars, planners, or to-do lists. Utilizing these tools can help plan out your day by scheduling video conferences, phone calls, team meetings, reports, and breaks. Because you are at home and not in your normal working environment, it is difficult to remember everything you must do throughout the day because you are not seeing your boss every day, co-workers, or clients in the office. Planning out your week via planner can help you stay on track and not get caught up in the drag of being quarantined.
Additionally, to stay focused and organized, try and avoid social media and game apps as much as possible throughout your workday. These can be very distracting and have a negative effect on your productivity when working from home. Try setting time limits on certain social media apps and save them for breaks and after your workday is done.
7. Communicate with Associates
If you are used to being at an office or specific location for work, you are constantly interacting with your coworkers throughout the day. When you work from home during COVID-19, you are not able to verbally communicate with others throughout the day or have any in-person meetings. Because of this, communicating throughout the day is essential. Some important way to communicate in order to stay productive include:
- Participate in all video conferences: Seeing your coworkers or staff visually provides easier communication. You can ask questions, take notes, and even ask about their day.
- Over-communicate everything you do: Because you are not in the office and your company knows and can see you physically working, it is important to relay what you are doing to your boss and peers. Give a report daily what you plan on doing for the workday and what you accomplished at the end of the day.
- Utilize chats: Using chats throughout the day can help you ask questions and stay in touch with employees.
When you begin working from home you are bound to feel very isolated during the quarantine. Because of this, it is important to socialize with your coworkers. When at work, most of the time you talk to your coworkers throughout the day and socialize with each other. Socializing is found to help strengthen the quality of workplace relationships. Strong relationships enable the team to work better together. Coworkers who communicate well about non-work matters are more likely to collaborate on work effectively. Ultimately, socializing throughout the day will help you stay productive while you work from home during the COVID-19 quarantine.
8. Communicate with People in your Household
Working from home can sometimes pose a problem depending on who else lives in your household. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, you and your family most likely at home together. It is important to communicate with other members of your household and come up with a plan for how everyone can stay comfortable and productive while you work from home during COVID-19.
If you live with roommates or other family members, talk to them and discuss each other’s schedules and figure out who gets what space. It’s important to respect each other’s work schedules and figure out a plan that will fit both of your needs. If your job requires complete quiet or privacy, make sure you relay that to your housemates.
The biggest complication you might have working from and staying productive is having your children home from school. Almost all schools and daycares are closed down, so you most likely have your children home with you. Children may impact your productivity if they become bored or not entertained leaving you no time to focus on your work. Some good tips on how to keep your kids occupied and happy would be:
Kids at Home
- Buy some activities for them to play with! Puzzles, crafts, board games, and books can all keep them entertained all day until you are done with your work and can spend time with them. Check out this list of Amazon’s best-selling kid’s crafts.
- Plan out lunches. Meal prepping lunches for your kids to eat can save time during your workday. Check out these great kid-friendly lunches prep meals for inspiration!
- Set up a homework station. It is important they also have a designated area to do their work as well. Have a section of the house/apartment set up where they will have everything they need to complete their school work.
9. Health & Mental Health
Practicing good health when you begin working from home may be difficult at times. Don’t give in to the temptation to snack on unhealthy foods. Eating junk food throughout your home workday can have an effect on your daily productivity. It is important to try and eat healthy food throughout your day. Try planning on your meals with fresh vegetables or fruits with adequate protein. It is also important to stay hydrated and drink a lot of water while working from home. Here are a few healthy recipes that you can prep for lunch in a helpful video.
It is also important to practice positive mental health as well. Being stuck inside your home all day every day, especially during quarantine, can be very depressing. Some helpful tips on practicing mental health during you’re at homework day would be:
- Go outside for your breaks. Going outside for at least 10 minutes during your workday can be very beneficial. Getting fresh air and sunlight can help you feel refreshed and overall help you focus and stay productive when working from home.
- Stretching. Getting up and stretching throughout the day is very helpful for your body and brain. Sitting inside all day in whatever your designated space is can make you feel trapped and tired. Walking around and stretching your limbs a few times a day can be very beneficial.
10. Set End of Day Routine
Finally, setting an end of day routine can help your brain know when the day is over and when it is time to relax. It is difficult to train your brain into recognizing the start of your workday and the end of your workday when you work from home during COVID-19. Normally when at work, you have a designated quitting time and your brain anticipates that towards the end of the day and when you get home you begin to relax. When working from home, those triggers can be confusing and hard to recognize. Developing an end of day time and routine can be greatly beneficial to your brain and work productivity.
- Set a time similar to your regular time of ending work. If you normally get off at 5:00 pm, then try to finish up your work by your usual time and make it a routine
- Do something for yourself that you are used to when getting off of work that helps you relax. If you normally come home and browse social media, then sit on the couch and browse social media as soon as you end your workday. If you normally come home and have a snack or workout, then continue doing those things so your brain still recognizes your normal routine.