Setting up our monitors and assembling a makeshift workspace in our homes is now a reality for many Americans. Our routines have shifted from running out the door each morning to staying in our homes all day, making it hard to separate the difference between the personal and the professional. So, if you’re one of millions struggling to establish a routine and stay productive through the COVID-19 nightmare, continue reading for tips on working at home.
Plan Your Day Before You Sit Down to Work
Before going to bed, set aside some time to plan out the next day. Envision possible obstacles you can foresee and come up with a plan of how to tackle them. Trying to work with your children at home? Establish activities and premade meals to keep them occupied for as long as possible. Tackling multiple client calls and Zoom meetings? Communicate with your co-workers when you’ll be available and when you’ll be on the phone. Stick to a break schedule for mental resets throughout the day so you don’t find yourself feeling stretched thin. Most importantly, find time to get outside and exercise or plan an at-home workout.
Stick to One Workspace
This may already be easy as some of us have at-home offices with multiple monitors set up but for the rest of us working on our laptops, it’s harder to establish an office setting. If you have to use your dining room table or your living room, consider that area an office during your work hours and don’t use it for anything else, if possible. This will help it feel more like an office during the day and your home in the evenings.
Stay Hydrated, Have Meals Prepped
When working from home, it’s harder to establish when you’ll take time for lunch, especially if you’re used to going out to lunch with coworkers midday. One of the biggest challenges is staying fueled throughout the day and fuel = productivity. Rather than rummaging through your cabinets when you’re starving, have a meal already prepped that you can simply heat up. Also, set a goal for how much water you’ll drink throughout the day, such as an 8oz glass for every hour of work. Establishing new, healthy habits will help you avoid midday burnout and improve focus and stamina.
Establish Office Hours
If you have a spouse or roommates also working in the same vicinity, or worse yet, not working and having loads of free time now, it can cause a lot of tension. Letting them know the times of day when you’re focused on work and unable to talk is the best way to maintain healthy relationships with those that you live with.
Finish Your Day and Be Done With It
Determine what time you’re “clocking out” each day. Once you’re done with all of your tasks, put away your laptop or shut down your monitor, clean up any messes around your workspace and communicate to the people you live with that you’re done for the day. This will help you start to wind down and feel like you are leaving the office for the day as you normally would. If you’re used to heading to the gym after work or getting a drink with coworkers, try planning a fun activity, such as an evening bike ride or a happy hour video call after the day is done.
When it comes down to it, we’re all learning how to adapt to a work-life balance from home. Remember to be patient with yourself and others during these difficult times as we all navigate a new normal.