Self-isolating can be… well, isolating! Here are some tips to make it easier.
Many employees across the world are now working from home to prevent the spread of coronavirus. For those of you who haven’t worked from home (or haven’t for long periods of time), we’ve put together a few tips to make your new home office just as productive as your actual office.
1. Avoid working in bed.
We know it can be super tempting to cuddle up with your laptop and work on all your tasks from your snuggly pillows and blankets. We’ve certainly been guilty of that ourselves, but it’s hard to make your brain settle into the workday if you’re still in bed. It could also make it harder for you to sleep, according to The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard, who recommends keeping electronics out of the bedroom.
2. Or at least make your bed look different while you’re working there.
Twitter user @smurks tweeted that they work from home a lot and recommends if you are going to work from your bed, to at least put down a different colored blanket or change something in your surroundings. We haven’t tried it, but who are we to argue with a (self-proclaimed) pro?
3. Get dressed.
It might feel silly getting dressed up in your work clothes just to sit at home, but when it comes to working from home, this can really help your productivity. The basic goal of being productive while out of the office is to make your home feel like where you work, just more cozy. We’re not necessarily recommending you dress up in a full suit, but at least get out of your PJs.
4. Leave the house and come back.
It might help to pretend like you’re going out to the office by leaving your house, walking around a block or two, and then returning. It could help signify to your brain that you’re “leaving for” and “arriving at” work. It can also give you some time in the morning to take a short walk or practice another grounding exercise before you start your workday. Worth a try, right?
5. Do something that makes it clear you’re working.
Do you usually work with headphones on because the rest of the office is noisy? Put some tunes on even if it’s quiet in your apartment. Sip on a cup of tea while working? Brew some or better yet make a pot to keep refilling from. Whatever you normally do at work, do it at home, too. This will send a signal to your brain that it’s work time and keep you focussed.
6. Take your regularly scheduled breaks.
Another way of treating your home like your office is to take the same breaks you would take if you were at work. Do you usually take a coffee break around 11 am? Make yourself a pot and set a timer for 15 minutes. Get up and walk around your home when you have writer’s block or need a breather. Take your lunch as usual and refrain from eating at your uh… coffee table desk. Following your normal schedule will make it feel like the only thing that has changed is your surroundings.
7. Separate your space into work and lounging.
In addition to not working from bed, try to designate an area that’s for working only. This could be your dining room table, a home desk, or even your couch so long as you don’t use it for other things. This will keep your brain in work mode and not in take-a-nap mode. It’ll also make it easier to relax after work when you can’t necessarily go outside.
8. Over-communicate with your team via Slack, Google Hangout, Zoom etc.
It can be hard enough to communicate effectively with co-workers without being physically away from them. Be overtly clear over email and Slack messages as text can read differently than actually talking face-to-face. Use video chat services like Google Hangout, Zoom, and Skype to hold meetings and check in with colleagues. Better to over-communicate than under, right?
9. Do something to signify the end of the day.
If you’re ending your workday in your house, make sure you do something to signify that you’re done. This could be crawling into bed for some Netflix time, taking your shoes off, leaving the house and returning, or changing into your PJs! Just make sure you clearly end your day in some way so you don’t risk returning to work after hours or working all hours because there isn’t a clear start and end time.