One big transition we’re experiencing from this terrible pandemic is already proving just how adaptable and wonderful the American spirit is. I’m talking about working from home with a great measure of success – keeping businesses and our lives running; figuring out our new normal.
But, since it’s not as easy for some of us as it is for others, I want to share six work from home tips that will help you continue to be productive outside of your usual work environment. And if you’re a procurement professional, Una has a fantastic Sourcing Hero’s Guide To Working Remotely that has some great recommendations in addition to these.
Tip #1: Create a dedicated workspace
Traveling from one room to the next or working wherever you happen to be in the moment is inefficient and ineffective. Find a place you can retreat to, that enables you to create a routine and get things done.
If you’ve got a home office, use it. If not, now’s the time to create a home office or workspace that will provide the right environment for you to stay on task. Now I know this should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: keep your working place clean and orderly, and you’ll get a lot more done.
Tip #2: Build an actual routine
Live by the calendar. Create non-negotiable windows for set agenda items and block out everything else. This is especially important if you have a family at home right now as many of us do. Make sure they understand your schedule, and encourage them to pretend you’re away at work, instead of just in the next room. And be prepared to be consistent with “gentle” reminders, because there will be times when the temptation to interrupt will just be too great to resist. Have patience. Everyone will get into the swing of things soon enough.
Another thing that you should include in your routine is making sure you’re getting proper rest and drinking plenty of water. Your physical and mental health depend on both of these things, so include them as part of your daily routine.
Tip #3: Take breaks
Whether you’re at the office or working out of your home office, taking regular breaks is critical to your wellbeing and your productivity. Get outdoors. Take a walk. Call a friend or loved one unrelated to business and decompress for a few minutes. Whatever way you choose to do it, give yourself dedicated time to unplug at regular intervals during the day so you can refocus and come back stronger.
This ties into Tip #2, regarding family interruptions and scheduling. Break time is an opportune time to gather everyone (yes, even when the weather is crappy, just make sure to bundle up) and take a walk together. It’ll do everyone good – mind, body and spirit, and push you to take those vital breaks with regularity.
Tip #4: Start Early
It’s a lot easier to let the day slip away when you allow yourself to be lackadaisical about getting started. Let’s face it, the time it takes to get to the office gives you time to be wide awake and ready to go when you arrive. Allow yourself that same preparation time working from home too.
When you look up and the clock says it’s 10:30 A.M. and you’ve barely gotten started, the rest of the day is a consequence at that point. You can safeguard against this by setting the alarm to be up and ready at your usual (going to the office) time. It wouldn’t hurt to get up and around maybe even a little earlier as an added measure to prevent you from getting into the bad habit of procrastinating your start time.
Make no mistake, this one will take some extra discipline, but believe me when I tell you it’s well worth the extra effort. Otherwise you’re adding unnecessary stress to what is already a trying time.
Tip #5: Plan your day ahead of time
Planning your day ahead of time is a great way to stay on track and keep things flowing smoothly. Winging it forces you to multitask and spray your time, which is NOT productive. Take just a few minutes each evening to line out what you need to get done the following day. This way you can accomplish everything on your list without missing anything or being completely frazzled at the day’s end.
Tip #6: Manage your attitude
This is mission critical. Controlling your attitude may well be the one and only thing that is fully and completely within your control. I was talking to a friend recently, and I just asked him straight up: “What are you doing to be more efficient and survive this current climate of working remotely?” His top recommendation is to maintain a positive mental attitude in spite of everything happening right now.
We’re all right in the middle of some extremely hard, traumatic, emotional times of loss and change. It’s so easy to be negative right now, especially with the media pumping out a constant stream of negativity.
So, I just can’t emphasize this enough. Control you attitude. Stay positive, stick to a healthy routine, drink your water, eat well, and maybe even do some fun jumping jacks before a call or zoom meeting; this may seem silly, but it will all help your mental state.
Confess Gratitude Out Loud
And when you find yourself getting sad, frustrated, angry or depressed, try speaking positively. Literally start confessing positive things out loud. Say things like I’m grateful that I’m alive today; I’m grateful that I have a family; I’m grateful that I’m healthy; and I’m grateful that I’m not experiencing XYZ. Just rattle off the things that you’re grateful for: that you have food to eat and clothes on your back; that you live in America; that you have a place to live; and if you are still employed that you still have a job or career.
I know from my own experience that the simple act of confessing gratitude out loud is a really good way to set your mind right, because really what matters most is what’s going on between your ears. Remember, this is going to pass, and nothing lasts forever. A positive attitude filled with empathy and gratefulness is what will give us the strength to carry on and get through all of this.