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05/13/2020 Admin

6 Tips for Working from Home

When many people envision working from home, they dream about extra time in their days and getting their work done faster due to fewer interruptions. While the flexibility and freedom can be liberating, working from home also presents new challenges.

Working from home requires a different mindset than working in an office, hospital or lab. You have new distractions, less structure and accountability, and lose daily routines that help you balance your work and home lives.

But with some planning and systems in place, you can make your work-from-home days productive, efficient and fulfilling.

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, everyone is facing additional stress and unprecedented challenges, especially when working from home unexpectedly. While these tips cannot alleviate all of the current struggles, they can provide some assistance in helping you work more efficiently and maintain balance between all of your responsibilities.

1. Plan out your day the night before

Don’t wait until you sit down in the morning to figure out what needs to get done. Instead, take five to ten minutes the day or night before to plan ahead. Look through your meetings schedule, review upcoming deadlines and decide what key items must get done and make a short list. It’s best to pick three to five must-do items to tackle in between meetings and regular activities.

By mapping out your day ahead of time, you’ll be ready to jump in and get started each morning instead of spinning your wheels.

2. Create Simple Rituals to Start and End Your Work Day

When you work outside your house, you have daily routines that help you transition between work and home. You may not realize how much these small rituals help you get in the mindset for work, or prepare you to leave work behind so you can be present with your loved ones.

Create simple rituals to start and end your days when working from home. The routines can be as simple as getting dressed, eating breakfast and bringing a cup of coffee to your work area.

At the end of the day, you can plan out your following day, close down all your documents and emails, shut off your laptop and bring any cups and dishes you used during the day to the sink.

Keep the routines simple so they become a habit and provide healthy boundaries between your work and personal life.

3. Set a Timer

When you’re struggling to focus and get things done, a timer can help you tackle your to-do list. Pick a task, close out all other windows on your computer, set a timer and work until the timer goes off.

You can use a kitchen timer, the timer on your phone, or even the timer on a stove or microwave if you work near your kitchen. Do not switch to any other task or do anything else until the timer dings. If you think of something else that needs to get done, make a note of it and get back to work on the task at hand.

You don’t need to set the timer for long stretches of time to get a lot done. Working in 30-minute, focused sprints can help you accomplish more than an hour spent battling distractions.

4. Eliminate Distractions

A cell phone, the Internet or an email inbox can distract even the most dedicated employees. These distractions can be even more alluring when you are working at home instead of in a busy office.

Be honest with yourself about what catches your attention during the day and do your best to eliminate these distractions before you sit down to work. Put your phone in another room (with notifications turned off) and take your home phone off the hook or ask family and friends not to call during work hours. Close out your web browser while working on a report, and close down your email for stretches of time so you do not get distracted every time a new message appears.  

5. Take Breaks

On busy days, it can be easy to get lost in work for hours. When you finally look up, its 2:45pm and you haven’t eaten lunch, your muscles are tense and your water bottle has been empty for hours.

When working from home, you won’t have to get up to go to meetings, take breaks to talk with co-workers or go out for lunch. You’ll have to build in breaks for yourself.

Stepping away from your desk, including for lunch, can help you stay energized and ensure you are taking care of yourself, as well as your work.

6. Be social

We often underestimate how much a small social interaction with our peers adds to our days. When working from home, especially for long stretches of time, create unique ways to connect with colleagues.  

Call a colleague while taking a walk or schedule a virtual lunch with another team member who is also working from home. Use this time to workshop challenges you are facing, communicate about shared projects or make the calls purely social. It’s all about maintaining social relationships that are vital to your success and happiness. 

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