How many times have you heard the term “unprecedented times” in the last few months? We promise we won’t use it but it sure gets the point across. The world has never been in a situation like the one we find ourselves in today and navigating new work routines from your home can be tricky depending on your circumstances. Maybe you don’t have a home office space where you can work or maybe your children are running around needing your attention. You may depend on your work team to keep you accountable and on task or maybe you just love your pajamas a little too much.
Whatever your circumstances are during this COVID-19 pandemic, we understand how you may be feeling because well, we’ve been feeling similarly and we want to help. That’s why we’ve taken the time to compile our best tips for working from home during COVID-19 that has helped our team on a daily basis. We swear by these 10 tips and our hope is they’ll help you create healthy and productive structures and routines at home. If you’re not careful, the days can blur together so remember, structure is your friend.
1. Make Your Bed
“If you want to make a difference in the world, start by making your bed.”-Admiral William H. McRaven
The idea of making your bed may seem unnecessary, a waste of time or just annoying but your mother was right, it’s important! Making your bed right when you wake up sets the tone for the day ahead and gives you a sense of accomplishment. So take a moment and make your bed, even if you’re just going to get right back on it to settle in to work. (Our Captain swears she gets some of her best work done from her bed).
2. Get Outside
Getting outside will help you avoid feeling trapped in your own space. Maybe it’s taking your dog for a walk, working on your patio, a picnic in your backyard or exploring new parts of your neighbourhood. Whatever it looks like for you, scheduling time to be outside and breathe in some fresh air will help you clear your mind and change your scenery so you can focus on your work when you return home.
3. Create A Schedule
A daily schedule will give you the structure and accountability you need to be successful in your home workflow. Following a schedule will help you accomplish the tasks at hand and will keep you from feeling overwhelmed by your workload. A schedule will also give you the structure you need when you’re stuck at home and unsure of how to navigate through your day. Before you know it, it’ll be time to power down for the evening, which brings us to our next tip …
4. Set Firm “Off” Times
We have fallen into this trap before as well … it’s easy when working from home to just casually check emails or get a couple things done when the mood strikes at any and all times of the day. However, we have found that this creates a mental attitude of always needing to be “on” and not giving your brain and body the space and permission it needs to turn off, so you can spend time and energy on other tasks or creative pursuits. Your life still needs to be more than just work and caring for your children (if you have them), even if that something more is video games, watching television or participating in some quarantine baking.
5. Create A Dedicated Workspace
Creating your own dedicated workspace will allow you to work freely without feeling cramped and cluttered. It will designate a space in your home that is designed for your work day. When you enter this space, you will be reminded to focus in and enter your work mode.
It’s really important to protect this space. Make sure you only use this space for work so that when you leave at the end of the day, it’s like you’re closing the door to your office. That’s why working from your couch or bed may not give you the structure you need (although, we admit – sometimes we too get great amounts of work done from our couch or bed. Just not all day, every day.) Move furniture around and maybe even flip a room. Do whatever you need to do to create your personal office space that is separated from the rest of your home. At the end of the work day, you’ll find yourself able to rest and relax without work taking up space in your mind.
6. Make A Playlist
If you’ve not yet tried zoning out with a good playlist, now is the time to try it! Many people swear by putting in headphones and listening to a playlist while they get their work done. It can decrease distractions around you and in a way pause your reality at home. Setting aside some time to create a playlist can increase productivity, drown out your noisy neighbours and turn your workspace environment into a more controlled space.
Extra tip: If lyrics distract you, branch out and explore some instrumental, lo-fi or ambient music. You may be excited about what you find. If you use Spotify they have some great Focus playlists.
7. Get Dressed
Pajamas may have been fun for the first week of your work from home routine right? It was for us however, there comes a time when you realize that structure is your friend during this pandemic. Pajamas or cozy clothes are tempting and while there are days for that, getting dressed in your best while working from home will help you in the long run. Getting dressed for work reminds you that there is a structure to your day and that you have tasks to get done. It keeps you accountable to your work hours and helps you embrace your resting hours even more.
8. Create A Morning Routine
A morning routine is sacred. It sets the tone for the day ahead and prepares you to have a productive day! It also reminds you to take care of yourself. Take the time to floss, wash your face and upgrade your self care regime.
“As we start each day fresh, we can better focus on what is in front of us, where to prioritize our time, and, ultimately, increase our productivity.”– Very Well Mind
9. Take Breaks
Short and frequent breaks are lifesavers! Make a cup of coffee, call a friend, go for a walk, do some yoga, cook some food, make a playlist. Just take a break. A regular break from your work will keep you energized and allow you time to do some of your favourite things.
If you’re worried that breaks may get you off-track, you may be surprised to know that short breaks allow you to focus more when you return to your work. Breaks help you get any stored up energy out of your system and return with a clear mind.
10. Don’t Get Stuck on Social Media
Remember what we said about structure? It’s important here too. It’s far too easy to get stuck scrolling but don’t beat yourself up, it happens to all of us. Maybe social media is part of your job which makes this extra tricky. We know how you feel!
An easy tip for social media is to stay off of your personal social feeds during your work hours to protect your productivity and keep your mind clear. We strongly recommend not going onto social feeds during your short breaks because this can lead to distractions down the road. Save that time for your down time in the evening. If you keep this boundary up, you’ll feel more focused and will most likely be much more productive with your work day.