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Folks have been working from home for years now. But in these uncertain times, working from home is pretty much required. We’ve all got to do our part to stop this virus in its tracks—but the economy is taking a serious hit. So while we all need to stay at home and avoid contact with others, another way we can do our part is to stay productive and keep this economy from sinking into a full-on depression. But that’s tough, especially while sitting around the house in your pajamas.
From advice and strategies to maintain your regular workflow to products to help you get the job done, we’ve got some tips and tools to help you be productive while working from home.
1. Keep Your Regular Routine
This is one of those things we always hear about that we instinctively want to blow off. But if you think about how easily we’re distracted, how we’re slaves to certain habits, etc., then you realize our minds and bodies really are just dumb enough to fall for this.
Get up around the same time. Go through your morning routine. Take a shower, brush your teeth, shave if you need to, and make a bit of coffee to help get you going. And put on pants, for God’s sake.
Now a lot of self-help gurus will tell you to dress for work as you always do. We are not going to be that uptight about this. Jeans or sweats and t-shirts are fine—but have a wrinkle-free collared shirt ready in case you get a surprise video call. Most any boss or client worth having is going to be just fine with a clean, nice polo shirt.
It’s tempting enough to fall into Chill Mode while working from home. But if you’re mentally and physically prepared for Work Mode, it makes it that much harder to backslide.
2. Build A Nice Work Space
Set up your home office much the way your work office space was set up. Clear off plenty of surface area, even if it’s on the kitchen table. Get your favorite coffee cup, your wireless headphones, your notebooks, pens, balance board—whatever you need to get your job done.
And that includes your tech. If your personal laptop or computer isn’t up to the task, you’re going to need to upgrade. That could mean getting a loaner from IT, or it may require buying a new machine. Also, make sure your router’s firmware is updated and your WiFi is running as smoothly as possible. If you need a WiFi extender or signal booster, order one ASAP from Amazon.
Colleagues, bosses, and clients are going to tolerate a few technical glitches over the next few weeks. But if you don’t take steps to fix recurring issues, then you’re going to keep having the same issues over and over. And be a speedbump to the process.
Don’t be a speedbump. Upgrade your tech if you need to, and fix your devices if you must. It’s always better to be recognized as a problem-solver instead of a problem.
Once your personal home workspace is set up, it’s time to get to work.
3. Stick To A Schedule
Make and stick to a work schedule. Start, take lunch, and knock off around the same time each day if you can. Make a plan, create a to-do list, and you’ll stay productive and focused.
That’s the hardest thing about working from home, and that’s why it’s so important to try and replicate your regular workday as much as possible. And to avoid distractions.
If you had morning meetings or scrums in the office each morning, do the same thing at the same time via Slack, Google Hangouts, or some other shared workspace solution. If you spent 30 minutes a day cleaning out your Inbox of old emails, keep doing that.
The important thing is to stay away from housework, chores, and TV. If you couldn’t do it from the office, don’t do it while working from home. Save it for the nighttime (think of all the minutes we’re saving each day by not commuting!) or the weekend.
If you previously hit the gym before work or during lunch, then find a way to keep doing that. Go for a run before your morning shower, or break out the TRX and use it every day at noon.
Staying fit is going to be tough during this time. If you weren’t working out every day before, maybe this a good opportunity to incorporate a daily workout into your routine?
Finally, remember the 25/5 Rule: work for 25 minutes, then take five to go to the bathroom, check emails or social media, or whatever. Set the timer on your smartphone. You’ll be amazed at how much saner you’ll be at day’s end. Besides, staying focused and productive for regular intervals keeps you focused and productive all day long.
4. Separate Home From Work
Just because you’ve got your home office set up doesn’t mean you can or should be in Work Mode at all hours. After you’ve stayed focused and productive all day long, shut it down when it’s time to knock off.
That’s the perfect time to clean your room or kitchen, take out the trash, or do that chore that’s been nagging you. Or just Netflix and chill, maybe do some gaming for a while. Either way, Work Mode is for work, and Chill Mode is for relaxing. Don’t cross the streams.
Now that you’ve got the tips and tricks you need to stay productive and focused while working from home, here are some great tools and devices to help you.
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