Often, working from home is a one-off luxury within companies and organisations that practice traditional working routines, with the 9-5 office structure. So, what happens when we have to work from home?
Working from home seems like some sort of utopia, where it’s easier to stay on target, easier to get to work (that part’s true) and easier, on the whole, to be productive.
The reality is often the opposite. At home, we feel safe and we feel relaxed. Those of us lucky enough to have safe homes, often find it’s actually more difficult to practise the same self-discipline that we do in our working environments.
This is certainly the case if our work and ‘relaxing’ spaces are combined, not separate.
So, for everyone who is fortunate to be able to work from home, we wanted to put together 4 tips for staying productive while you work at home. (And in doing this, we are acknowledging how fortunate we are, and the plight that so many other people are finding themselves in).
Give Yourself Deadlines
All too often, when your laptop is permanently on, or your monitor is ‘just over there’ and always visible, it’s easy to get sucked into the mindset that you can work whenever you like.
Deadlines become meaningless and arbitrary because you don’t have to leave the ‘office’, there’s no set time by which your jobs have to be completed because you can access them whenever. If a client sends something in late, it’s there. When you wake up, it’s there. Work. The ability to work.
This is hugely detrimental not only to our mental health, but our productivity. If we consider our work as not limited or restricted by timed deadlines, personal or professional, then the urgency to complete work dwindles. We find ourselves in a miasma of procrastination and dwindling motivation.
So, to avoid this, set yourself deadlines.
Put a timer on your phone for 1 hour of uninterrupted work. Or make it 20 minutes, whatever works best for your personal attention span. Dedicate yourself to really fulfilling this deadline. Don’t look at your phone for the duration of this time (unless your boss or a client needs you).
For those of you doubting your ability to be strict with yourself, there are so many apps and tools out there to help with productivity. Try:
These apps help you stay focused (you can even plant a tree with Forest!) and remove distractions from your workspace and social media so you can focus on being productive…
Figure Out Your Working Schedule
We’ve all got different periods during the day where we are more productive. In the office, we’re restricted to the expected working hours.
However, when you work from home you suddenly have the freedom to choose which working hours suit your personal preferences the best (within reason of course).
Our motivation ebbs and flows during the day, it’s natural. Because of this it’s even more important to know when your high and low periods of motivation are, and work with them, not against them.
Trying to push through harder tasks on your list when your headspace isn’t quite right will negatively impact your productivity, but also your mental health.
It becomes easy to associate a feeling of low motivation for our work schedule if we try to consistently sprint through the day without listening to our natural patterns of productivity.
So, capitalise on your periods when you feel clearer, more motivated, whenever this is, and save the easier tasks for your slower periods. Building in this personal schedule will do wonders for your overall balance, and make your work of better quality, too.
Structure Your Days
When you’re working from home, there’s no ‘away’ or ‘at home’. Delineations between ‘home time’ and ‘work time’ can blur if you aren’t careful to strictly and consistently organise your days into clearly separate modes.
Structure your days like you are in the office - if you work 8 hours, then portion out a period of 8 hours where you can work. Obviously the whole point of working from home is an increase in flexibility, but ensuring that this doesn’t go too far and you’re working without clear boundaries for your ‘work’ time and ‘home’ time is a slippery slope.
Often, without colleagues to keep us on track, it’s easy to just slip into a mindset where you feel able to work whenever you like. Doing so, however, can lead to a feeling of mental exhaustion, because you’re not giving yourself separate headspaces.
There is no delineation between when you can utterly relax at home, and when you’re working - these structures are important for our mental health.
So, using tools like Google Calendar and Asana can not only help keep you on track with regards to your task list, but to segment what you'll do and when over the course of the day.
Take A Break
One of the easiest things to overlook is our natural need to step away from things. Even when we’re in the office, we take quick breaks - we make a cup of tea, go for a walk, or step outside for a minute.
Working from home is like walking a tightrope. You can fall off either side by slipping into a mindset that finds it difficult to step away and ‘switch off’, or a mindset that finds it difficult to be productive. Finding that balance is like a golden ticket, and takes a little work itself.
Therefore, why not dedicate a little time each day to preparing a delicious meal? It’s easy to slip into a bad eating routine when you’re stuck inside - so, how about spicing things up a bit with some gorgeous, easy food inspiration ideas all the way from India?
As you may know, Mrs Balbir Singh are one of our clients. For nearly a year, we’ve been supporting the team with their Facebook Ads and they have doubled their month-on-month turnover consistently.
Separate Work And Home Spaces
One of the most beneficial ways to be productive while working from home is making sure you have clear ‘work’ and ‘home’ spaces. Even if you don’t have the luxury of a spare room, or a space that you can section off within your home, make sure that you carve out a dedicated ‘work’ space somewhere in your home.
This is so beneficial for mental health, as it allows us to get into different headspaces and focuses our minds. It also encourages a more rigid structure to your day, or at least discourages you from working on the sofa when you’re supposed to be relaxing.
Create a section of the table that’s your work corner; carve a little space in the living room where everyone knows that’s where you work (if you don’t live alone).
Even better, if you do have a garden, now’s the perfect time to really maximise that space - why not create your own garden office? Creating that separate work ‘haven’ in your garden is one of the best ways to really get some breathing space from your safe, home space.
Once you’ve cracked the self-motivation and discipline needed to work from home, there’s really nothing better. You’ll certainly find it difficult going back to the old 9-5 (if you ever do!).