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If you work in an office setting, chances are you’ve had to work from home before or will have to in the future. While this may be easy for some, it can be a daunting task for others who rely on the office setting to keep them motivated and productive. However, it is possible for those who aren’t used to working from home to still perform at a high level.
For those who may struggle, or simply those looking to continue building good telework habits, here are five ways to stay as productive as possible while working from your home office.
Stick to your routine
It’s easy to slip out of your routine when you don’t have to leave your house to work. You can sleep in since you don’t have to commute, roll out of bed, hop on the computer and begin working right away. Don’t. Try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible. Think about what you do when you have to go to the office and continue to do that. Wake up. Get dressed. Eat a healthy breakfast. Meditate. This will put you in the right mindset and set you up for a productive day.
Find a designated space
When you work in an office building, you have a designated area where you work. This may be a cubicle or a desk, but either way you have a space to call your own. Working from home should be no different. If you don’t already have a home office, try to find a space you can use for the duration of the time you will be working from home. This area should be removed from as many distractions as possible, including a spouse who may also be working from home or the TV. You should also ensure you have everything you need (sticky notes, pens, etc.) easily accessible. This way you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to get supplies from other areas of your house.
Have a plan
Like any other workday, you should have a plan of action at the beginning of the day. If you need to, touch base with your boss in the morning and make a list – either together or separately – of what you need to accomplish that day. If you want to break it down further, make two separate lists: things you need to get done and things you would like to get done. This way you’re prioritizing the most important things, but you also have a list of other items you can work on if you breeze through the first list. By having these ready in the morning, you can avoid any lulls in productivity and you won’t be tempted by distractions like social media or mindlessly checking the fridge for a snack. Keep in mind, this may need to be adjusted as the day goes on and things come up, but this will at least give you a starting point.
If you find yourself working from home while others are in the house, set boundaries right from the beginning. Make it clear to them that during this time, you will be working from home and are not to be interrupted unless there is an emergency. If others are constantly trying to talk to you, you’re likely not going to get very much done.
Take regular breaks
According to Tork, North American workers currently do not take lunch breaks as frequently as they would prefer due to fear of being judged by their bosses and coworkers. “Reluctance to take a lunch break is often perceived as a display of dedication to the job,” said Jennifer Deal, senior research scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership and Affiliated Research Scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations at University of Southern California (USC). “In reality, taking time away for a lunch break can help to reduce stress, increase engagement, and restore energy levels, making employees feel more effective and productive back at the office.”