Productivity: Four Tips from the Home Office
March 2020 · Coronavirus, Work from Home
Let’s face it, working from home has its advantages. I admit that a part of me yelled “Yes!” and did a fist pump when I heard my department would work from home thanks to COVID-19. I saw myself sitting at my computer in my pajama bottoms and Beatles t-shirt, typing away between bites of pepperoni and provolone. Then, I thought, “Man, this would be the perfect time to grow a hipster beard.”
As glorious as that sounds, I do have lots of work on my plate. Don’t we all? So, we need to maintain our productivity even though we’re working from home, perhaps with bedhead. After all, people depend on us.
With that in mind, I’ve shared a few of the ways I manage to balance the novelty of working from home with the need to actually get my work done. Feel free to use whatever does the trick for you.
Act like you’re going to work. As tempting as it sounds to work in my underwear, I can’t get into the groove unless I’ve showered and brushed my teeth. I wake and prepare as though I’m going into the office, before sitting down at my workspace at 8 a.m. You can still wear your pajamas, but I’ll bet you’ll feel more like working if you’ve washed your face and combed your hair. Maybe put on a little makeup, or shave, whatever the case may be. If you’re growing a hipster beard, just wash your face.
Maintain a routine. Believe it or not, home offers just as many – or more – distractions than the office. I suspect we all have that load of laundry just crying out to be folded right now. It would be so easy to wash those breakfast dishes, then eat that last piece of chocolate pie sitting in the fridge. Maybe turn on the TV and catch a few minutes of the news … or, “The View.” Because it’s so easy for me to get distracted, I plan breaks and lunch hours just like I’m at work. Take timed, scheduled breaks so you don’t forget to return to your computer. I plan a good hour for lunch, which today will certainly include that piece of chocolate pie. Breaks are good for you. Once time is up, though, I head right back to my workspace – because, without routine, I risk selling my soul to Netflix.
Set boundaries. Before she walked out the door to work today, my wife said, “Must be tough getting to work from home. Don’t have too much fun.” Sometimes, it’s difficult for people in our lives to understand working hard from home doesn’t mean we’re hardly working. Just because my car is parked in the drive and I’m walking around in my pajamas doesn’t mean I’m playing hooky. This is especially challenging when our kids are home with us. Barring a gummy bear stuck in the hair or other emergency, it helps to help our kids understand that they will have our undivided attention during our break or after we’ve knocked off work for the day. Setting clear boundaries ensures everyone (family, friends, and neighbors) knows to respect the time we have set aside to do our job, even if we are doing it from home.
Have fun. Hey, you get to work from home! Enjoy it. Working from home is generally more relaxing than the office because you’re in your own space. Plus, you save money by using less gas and eating out less often. You don’t have to worry about what to wear, nor about that forehead pimple that showed up overnight. You can use your own bathroom and pour your coffee in your own kitchen. If you want, you can spend your lunch hour taking a nap on your own couch. All in all, not a bad deal. Use the time to relax a bit. No one ever said relaxation and productivity were mutually exclusive. Or, if they did, they were wrong.
One more thing – For all its benefits, it can be easy to feel isolated and even lonely working from home. We humans are social creatures, which means we need human contact. As we feel our way through this whole coronavirus scare, let’s remember to look out for each other. Stay connected as much as possible through social media. If you sense that a co-worker or neighbor might be having a hard time, give them a good old-fashioned phone call. We belong to each other, and it’s during difficult moments like these that human beings are often at our best.
Shane Schneider is Marketing & Communications’ Senior Copywriter