5 easy tips to work from home more productively

Working at home can be difficult. Many of us have been working home since the start of 2020 and while we had hoped that this virus would “go away” and things would return to normal in one year, we still see no deadline on the work from home situation. It is best, then, to learn to work from home remotely and healthily. Here are a few ways I tend to my mental, emotional and physical health and relationships while working from home.

Set boundaries

It can be difficult to work at home with parents, children, and siblings constantly around us. The TV may be blaring in the living room, while your mother is using the pressure cooker in the kitchen, while your sister is participating in a live concert in her room. You could have your kids barging in your room during a zoom call. We have seen a lot of those videos online. There may be chaos in your immediate external environment, which you cannot change entirely, but you can try to set boundaries to keep them from making you overwhelmed.

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels

What you can do is, first, talk to the people living with you and establish your expectations. Discuss ways you can plan to manage your chores and split your responsibilities. You can have a timetable stuck to your door so that people know when it is ‘okay’ to talk or when you are in a meeting and cannot be interrupted at all. This is what my sister, who has online classes does.

These boundaries, that you will set will not work right away and will not work for everyone. They will need to be adjusted and you will continue finetuning these over a week or a month. You will probably also find other creative ways to cope.

Try to schedule something to do with the people you live at least once a week. A movie or game night. Create fun quiz. Attempt to bake or cook something new. There are lots of free and virtual activities. Organize virtual events with your close ones and relatives.

One of my favorite virtual activity to connect with my friends is skribbl. With my parents and sister, I try to bake, or cook or organize a movie night once a while.

Find your optimal and productive working space

Once you have created a fairly workable external environment, it’s time to work on the space you will be working in. Different people have different styles of working. Some can work productively in a cluttered space or in a clean space. They can work on the floor, lying on the bed, or while watching tv. Others, like me, need a clean and minimalist space to work in. We need quiet or music with no lyrics to work. We cannot work productively in a distracted space. Experiment. Try finding what you need to create an inviting work environment. For instance, I need good light, a notebook or piece of paper next to my laptop, a bottle of water, and lots of space around me. I tend to do some stretches during breaks (more on that later).

Find/create a routine

Even if you have your preferred working environment, it can still be hard to start working seriously and deeply focused. One tip is to find how you tend to get into the flow of working. Personally, after a lot of experimenting, I have found that I like to do my miracle morning ritual, go for a run, shower, have breakfast, have coffee, and then start working. I always start with emails though this might not be the most optimal for everyone, this works for me. I have a quick chat with my colleagues and then, start with my main tasks.

Use technology

It takes some time to get into working and I find that using the Pomodoro technique works for me. What is the Pomodoro Technique? It is a time management technique to minimize distractions and focus on one task at a time.

There is a google extension called ‘Pomofocus’ on google chrome that allows you to set a timer for 25 mins (default, but you can change this number). After the timer goes off, you can take a 5 minutes break or continue working if you have gained momentum, until you feel tired and then after a few sessions of 25 minutes, you can take a longer break. The Pomodoro technique is not distraction-proof. It all depends on how well you control yourself and focus on the task at hand.

One hack that I found works for me is writing what distracts me on the notebook or paper that I keep next to my laptop. If for instance, while working on a task I think of an idea, I write it on paper. When I take a break after the Pomodoro session, I just write the main points on the idea on notion or WordPress and schedule a time to work on it.

Pomodoro, by itself, will not work if you do not stop yourself from getting distracted. The Pomodoro technique nudges you to get into a flow of work.

According to the Pomodoro Technique, take a 5 minutes break after each 25 minutes session and a long break of 15-20 minutes after 4 sessions of 25 minutes. An average person’s attention span is probably about 15-20 minutes, which is in line with this technique. In reality, though, a person’s attention span varies from person to person. Use this technique to increase your attention span and focus on your tasks without distraction.

Take breaks and use them healthily

On what can you spend your breaks?

Short breaks – 5 minutes

  1. You can catch up on emails, chat with a friend, or look at the view outside your window and listen to the wind flow, to birds chirping and flying, vehicles moving, the sun shining.
  2. Use these 5 minutes to meditate and do some deep breathing exercises.
  3. You can also grab a snack, like a granola bar, fruits, a smoothie, crackers, chips, a pee break, talk to those around you (if you live with other people in the same apartment/house).
  4. Stretch your legs and do some hand movements. Working at home probably means that you are not working as well ergonomically as in the office setting, where most equipment was custom made. Why not even try doing yoga at your desk?

Longer breaks – 15-20 minutes

  1. You can use longer breaks to work out or go for a walk in your backyard.
  2. Why not invest this time in your hobby? Read a book, write, play some music, play online games.
  3. Why not even take a power nap? Naps can be a powerful way to refresh your mind. Not only do your eyes feel refreshed and your body rested, but even if you don’t really sleep, these 15 minutes are a great way to let yourself get bored with thoughts that are bothering and these sessions can be a way to find solutions or decode the thoughts.

Try to treat these routines and hacks as a lifestyle for growth, rather than a burden. Making these routines and tips work for you will take time and some changes. A habit on average takes 21 days to be implemented. In cases where you work a 9-5 job, it might take a month to find what works and what doesn’t in different scenarios. These advice are not one-size fit all. Experiment and find what works for you. Sometimes, a habit works for some time and then it doesn’t. You will need to continually change and adapt.

I hope this post was helpful in some ways. Do you have other ways to focus and work productively while working from home? Let me know.

Have a great week ahead!

Feature image made on canva

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