Whether you are relishing being able to work in your pyjamas or can’t wait to get back into the office after the pandemic, there’s one thing we can all agree on. Working from home can be a struggle for even the most motivated of us.
Distractions at home can easily cause us to waver in concentration and adjusting to this ‘new normal’ is still proving an issue for some of us, even after all these months of trying.
If you are still finding it hard to lock-down that work from home routine or, perhaps, know a colleague or family member who needs a few tips, read on for our best advice for how to be more productive working from home.
Keep It Clean
A cluttered workspace equals a cluttered mind. We understand that not everyone can have a spacious home office, especially when multiple house members may be fighting for the optimum space.
Garages, basements and even lofts are being turned into our home offices during this time and let’s face it, they’re usually a dumping ground for our unused jumble.
Unlike most offices which will undergo daily commercial cleaning, it isn’t always possible to clear this, after all, where else will the Christmas decorations and barely used gym equipment live? However, you can still make an effort to create an organised mess.
Trying to collate the surrounding clutter into neater spaces, storage boxes and crates can be a great help here. If this isn’t feasible, simply draping sheets or cloths over these eyesores can make a huge difference to your mind while working. Out of sight, out of mind!
Keep your desk clean and knowing how to declutter your desk is incredibly important, you may think you need numerous pens and every worksheet ever completed, this probably isn’t the reality. Make sure you clean your desk, along with computer equipment. For help, see our advice on how to clean a mouse and how to clean a keyboard.
Create storage for files and items you may need to access, but don’t use on a daily basis.
Making your own filing systems will help reduce stress when frantically trying to locate important documents in the future.
Dedicate A Workspace
We’ve discussed keeping your workspace clean but choosing the right workspace is just as important.
We all have limited space and it can be easy to just set-up our work on any available surface. However, it’s important to dedicate a workspace that can remain consistent and comfortable.
Even if we are at home all the time, we need to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It can be hard to switch off from our professional lives if it happens in the same location as our home lives.
The sofa or bed may seem like a luxury office but it can have the opposite effect. When we are trying to relax in the evenings and weekends, we can easily be consumed by work as our brains will not differentiate the setting we are in.
Use your workspace for work and your relaxing space to relax, don’t mix the two.
Make A Plan
At the beginning of each week or day, analyse the work that needs to be done within that time frame. Create a calendar to help prioritise urgent work and stick to this timeline.
This can help you plan your day and flag any issues with timing early on so you can reach out to a colleague for help, ensuring targets are still met.
This will significantly help with your daily routine and sticking with it. Remember to allocate time for breaks, overworked staff members can actually become a hindrance, not a benefit.
Stick to your work hours, it can be easy to say at the end of the day ‘just one more email’ but this can quickly lead to hours and hours of extra input every day. You need to keep time aside for yourself and it can also lead to procrastination earlier on in the day, with the attitude of ‘I have plenty of time in the evening’.
More easily said than done, but home distractions are our biggest downfall when working from home.
Children demanding attention, pets wanting to sit close and partners wanting to have a chat can be a problem when trying to concentrate. Try to plan activities that can be completed without our assistance whilst you are at work.
Keeping snacks readily available for children (and partners too!) can avoid heads popping around the door too often as well.
One of the biggest distractions is household chores, we see it as a great excuse to preoccupy ourselves with something that is also seen as productive. We would be lying if we didn’t admit we were putting off certain work tasks by deciding it’s a great time to try out our tips for how to clean a stained toilet or finally removing that coffee stain on the carpet on the carpet you made years ago.
The easiest way to avoid these distractions is to deal with them outside working hours. Before going to bed or in the morning before turning on your computer, have a quick blitz of the house, stack the dishwasher, vacuum the carpets and hang the washing up.
It may seem like a lot of work but it can really help during working hours.
Have A Break
As already stated, an overworked team member can quickly become counterproductive. Our brains simply can’t function if we are solidly working for 8+ hours a day.
When in the office, it’s unlikely we work this intensively anyway, even the most dedicated employee will take time away from their screen to have a catch-up in the break room or to take a walk to get a drink from the local coffee shop.
It should be the same at home, at a minimum you should take your full lunch break and try to take 5-10 minutes to step away from your desk every few hours to keep your brain fresh. Try and get out of the house if you can, take the dog for a walk or pop to the shops, a change of scenery can make all the difference.
We’re all adjusting to this new normal and it may take a while to nail remote working. Distractions will always be one of the biggest culprits for not working from home successfully.
Now that we are allowed certain numbers within our homes, communicate your work schedule to friends and family, this will avoid casual pop-ins who can hinder your work.
Remember, keep a clean workspace, plan how to distract household members while you’re trying to work and most importantly, keep an eye on your and your loved ones’ mental wellbeing.