Five working from home tips to help you stay productive

Need working from home tips to help you stay productive and happy (instead of accidentally watching TV or getting distracted)? This post is for you.

Chances are your workplace has experienced some major changes over the last few weeks. With the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus, billions of lives have been disrupted in ways we couldn’t have imagined even just a few weeks ago.

One such change is the requirement for millions of people to work from home.If you already work remotely, the disruption has probably been pretty minimal. But for a lot of people, working from home can be a real challenge. It can be hard to stay focused. It can be disorienting. It can be isolating. This is particularly true for working parents who also have small kids at home for all or parts of the day.

The good news is it’s easy to stay productive while working from home, you just need to implement a few tips, tactics and techniques along the way.

As someone who recently went through the transition from office-goer to at-home-worker, I know that there can be good days and bad days; but once you find your groove, working from home can be beneficial in a lot of ways. I feel more in control of my work hours and can work the way I want to (I once worked while taking a bubble bath). I can do laundry and pick up groceries on my lunch break. I save money on gas and toll roads, and avoid the dreaded rush hour. I’ll admit, it took a period of adjustment to get there, but it’s possible!

So, in the spirit of productivity, I’d like to share a few learnings that have made my life easier over the last year of working remotely. These are my tips on how to beat the working from home (WFH) blues and make the transition a smooth one.

1. Develop a routine and stick to it.

While it may be tempting to sleep in, skip the shower and work from your PJs, I highly recommend that you don’t. I learned this the hard way years ago, when my boss unexpectedly FaceTimed me when I was expecting a voice call. Needless to say...I learned my lesson. Embarrassing encounters aside, developing a routine can help spark momentum for the day.

Actual footage of my conference call with my boss that fateful morning.If you’ve ever heard the famous speech from Admiral McRaven about why you should make your bed, the same logic applies here. Taking a shower, making your bed, and yes, changing out of your PJs, can all create a sense of accomplishment that can mentally kickstart your day.

2. Get comfortable showing your face.

I won’t lie, I used to hate video calls. I hated doing it even with friends and family. So, I know how cringey it can feel to give clients and work colleagues full view into your most private spaces at home. But over time, I’ve learned to appreciate the ability to see who I’m talking to. I conduct a lot of interviews remotely, so video calls make it easier to break the ice than a simple phone call would, and in turn, I feel that both parties are more relaxed and generally get more out of the call.

There’s something about seeing the person on the other end that puts me at ease AND holds me accountable to stay focused on the task at hand. Video calls can be especially helpful on days when you’re missing the human interaction that an office typically provides. Seeing your work buddies in a video chat may be just what you need to brighten your day and feel a sense of connection while you’re stuck at home.

The next time you have a meeting, consider making it a video call. Before you know it, it will feel like second nature.

3. Give yourself a break.

If you’re like me, you love your periodic visits to the “water cooler” and taking mid-day walks. You should absolutely do the same activities while working from home.

When you start to feel sluggish, take a break. Give your mom a call (ideally with video!), go for a run, bake some banana bread, take a nap - whatever you need to do to break the monotony and stay sane. I’ve found that when I force myself to work when I’m not feeling it, I end up getting nothing done anyway. I’m much more productive when I allow myself to disconnect and come back to it later.

Plus, science shows that taking breaks can actually boost creativity and performance since you’re bound to come back feeling more refreshed and clear-headed. It’s the same way ideas come to us in the shower or in the middle of the night - our brains benefit from taking small breaks. So if you have moments when you’re simply not feeling it, know that it’s ok, take a break, and then come back to it later.

4. Create a dedicated workspace that you love.

Just like how having a routine can help jumpstart your day, having a dedicated workspace can increase focus by putting you in the mindset to work. Especially if you have young kids at home, it’s crucial to set boundaries for your workspace.

Imagine working at a dining room table that’s covered with leftover dishes, puzzle pieces, and coloring books: how focused would you feel? Even if you don’t have a dedicated office, any flat surface can be easily transformed into a designated workspace during business hours. Tell yourself that when you’re there, it’s time to work.

Create a workspace you love.

This activity has been particularly fun for me and I’ve made it a point to go over the top to create a workspace I actually want to spend time in. I’ve got plants, candles, mood lighting, my dog, and NPR playing at all times - things I probably couldn’t get away with in a traditional office setting. Take advantage of this time to create a space that’s uniquely yours and makes you feel focused, energized, and happy.

5. Explore the world of remote collaboration tools.

Even before recent events forced people to work from home, small team remote collaboration tools were having a moment. From video conferencing, to virtual whiteboards, to project management apps, there are an increasing number of collaborative business solutions that make it possible to work from anywhere, anytime.

When I first began working remotely, I was the only one working from home while the rest of my team was still in an office. This dynamic made communication and collaboration difficult because they were forced to use tools that felt unnatural, given they were all together in the same room.

But when everyone is remote and having to adapt, you suddenly realize just how easy and natural it can be to stay connected from afar.

If you’re looking for a tool that facilitates remote collaboration, I encourage you to check out DoneDone. DoneDone is the simplest small team collaboration tool: you can manage customer service, bug tracking projects and everything in between, right within the app.

Working from home is easy when you have the right techniques

While I know working from home full-time isn’t for everyone, it can still be done by anyone with the right mindset and processes in place. I hope you are able to embrace the change and see that it doesn’t have to mean you are any less productive.

Feel free to reach out with any questions or to share the ways you’ve been able to successfully transition to remote working - we’d love to hear from you!

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