As much as working from home has been made out to be something fun and ideal, the reality is a little more complex. Leaving the office behind creates a whole new set of challenges.
This is something that many people are now discovering after being forced to work remotely because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. It can be difficult to focus and get important work done when you’re in the same place you watch television and relax.
While you used to have your work and your life outside work clearly separated, they can’t help but start to overlap and bleed together when you’re not allowed to go into the office anymore. Your work/life balance can really start to suffer, and both sides will be negatively affected.
The good news is that you aren’t alone in dealing with these challenges. While you may be new to working remotely, others have had time before you to figure out the best ways to work from home and stay productive without overly impacting the rest of your life. Here are some hard-earned secrets to help you stay focused and stay sane as you continue to work from home.
1. Stick to a Schedule
One of the most important things to do for your own productivity and for a healthy balance is to set a schedule and stick to it. Work needs to get done, but you can’t let it spread throughout your entire day.
You need set times for work, set times for family and playtime, and set times for rest. It might help to start with the regular routine you followed when you were still working outside of the home. Go through the paces of your regular workday to try to keep yourself disciplined.
As you continue, you can make adjustments to your previous routine to adapt to your new circumstances and create a workflow and rhythm that works for you. The important thing is structure. Without a structured schedule, you lose control of your time and your work.
2. Create Different Spaces
One reason focusing is so hard when working from home is that you’re simply not used to focusing on work projects under these conditions. Getting in the car and driving to the office psychologically prepares you for work, while rolling out of bed and sitting at the kitchen table only prepares you for breakfast.
While working from home, you’ll need to create new patterns and rituals that help you follow your schedule and focus on the right things. Set apart different spaces in your home for different activities.
Keep your desk organized and limit it to work-related activities. There should be no overlap in what you use spaces for. The workspace is for work and the relaxing space is for relaxing. This strategy can help newly remote workers keep down distractions and keep their productivity up.
3. Eat Well
Don’t underestimate the value of a healthy diet. If you were careful and intentional about how and when you ate when you worked in the office, keep it up. Don’t let the convenience of being at home lead you to casually snacking throughout the day instead of eating real, wholesome meals.
Eat well at the appropriate times you set for yourself and ensure you have the proper nutrition to help you get your work done and stay motivated.
4. Take Breaks
Breaks are important in any workplace, and they may be even more important when working at home. Schedule breaks for yourself and be diligent about using them.
If you have the opportunity to go outside and exercise or just get some fresh air, then do this. Moving around and being outside will be good for your health and will keep you happy and focused later.
5. Create Boundaries and Maintain Them
A schedule and a structure are only worthwhile if you can follow them. If you commit to not answering any work emails after five in the evening, then you need to ensure you follow through.
It can help to outline some of these boundaries with your coworkers and housemates. Unless you let them know what you’re doing, they may constantly put pressure on you to step outside your schedule and blur the boundaries between your work and your life.
Instead of trying in vain to hold the line, get them on your side. Lay out your boundaries clearly and ask coworkers and housemates to hold you accountable and help you improve your work-life balance.
6. Take a Deep Breath
If it all starts to seem overwhelming, take a big step back and give yourself a moment to breathe. It’s natural to be stressed by this transition, and the scary circumstances making it necessary may cause you anxiety as well.
In difficult times like these, it’s important to be gentle with yourself and give yourself the space to adjust. Don’t expect yourself to adjust immediately to working remotely without going through a period of reduced productivity. Countless individuals in the workforce have the same experience.
Do your best to get your work done, and then set it down when the end of the day comes around. Put the tasks away until the next morning and let yourself rest reading a good book or enjoying quality time with your loved ones.