10 Key Strategies For Staying Productive While Working At Home
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I’ve been working from home for five years, here are some ways I still stay productive.
With companies, events, sports leagues, and entire countries shutting down all over the world due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, many people are asking themselves a question for the very first time:
How the hell do I stay productive if I can’t leave my house?
Of course, most people reading this won’t be fully quarantined (though some will), but it could feel that way if your company has everyone working from home.
In the age of technology, though, many an empire has been built by using a smartphone and a laptop. Here are some suggestions for staying productive when your routine has been obliterated.
Have a specific work space.
One of the challenges I faced when I was living in a smaller apartment was that I didn’t have a dedicated office or desk to work from. I didn’t want to work at the kitchen table, so I’d sit on the couch.
Then, I’d close the laptop and watch a movie…on the couch…
There was no mental separation between a work space and a leisure space, which sometimes lead to being too comfortable or just a lack of motivation because you feel like you’re just sitting around on the couch even when you’re “working.”
So, dedicate a certain area or space that you save just for work, it will help keep you in the right mindset.
Actually get dressed.
I’m not saying to put on your most powerful office gear, but staying in the routine of getting up and getting dressed in the morning will make it feel like your day has begun. Believe me, sweatpants and a hoodie are an absolute paradise for the first week or so, and then you’ll just feel like a slacker.
Set a schedule for yourself.
It’s a challenge to stay on a schedule when there is no schedule to stay on. It’s easy to wander to the kitchen for a snack, or lose sight of how much time you’ve spent scrolling Instagram if someone isn’t coming up to your desk.
Laying out a plan for the day will keep you accountable and productive. Structure is key.
Open a Poshmark account.
Poshmark (I am not affiliated with them) is an app where you can sell clothes and accessories. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a variety of items that you know you’re never going to wear again, but they’re sitting in a closer or a drawer waiting to see the light of day.
Being stuck at home is the perfect time to work on overdue organizing, and this is also a great way to make some money by selling items you’ve already got, particularly if your income is being affected by the quarantine.
BELIEVE ME WHEN I TELL YOU: The less energy you expound over time, the less you will have. Resting for a couple of days will feel energizing, but if you need to be productive from home for a couple of weeks, you will lose steam.
Inertia, momentum, whatever you want to call it…resting up doesn’t always make you feel rested. If you’re getting up from bed, sitting down at the desk, and not moving much during the day…you will feel far more drained than if you stay active.
Do some pushups, find an at-home workout routine, or even brave the gym if you’re diligent about sanitizing the equipment. Whatever you do though, keep your mind and body active.
Develop a new skillset.
Maybe you’re not actually working due to things being shut down — which means this is a perfect time to develop a new skill in order to expand your potential for income.
There are endless resources for learning including free podcasts, YouTube videos, even Ivy League courses you can get at no cost.
Being stuck at home doesn’t have to be a waste of time when you have a universe of knowledge at your fingertips.
Have dedicated break times.
When you’re actually at work the day is broken up, whether it be a conversation with a colleague, taking lunch, or walking outside to take a personal phone call.
Sometimes we think powering through the entire day without taking a break is a mark of productivity or badge of honor. But the truth is that burnout is real and failing to recharge will simply drain your batteries and make you even less productive in the long run.
I enjoy cooking, I find it to relaxing and of course is healthier than eating out (most of the time). But, it can also be very time consuming.
Cooking 2 or 3 meals a day can eat into valuable work, cleaning, laundry, or Poshmark selling time. Becoming disciplined to prepare meals the night before will allow you the freedom of walking over to the fridge to “grab and go.”
Plus, this is a valuable habit to master once you’re actually back at work, as well.
This should be self-explanatory, but often overlooked because of how easily we get distracted.
Set boundaries with others you live with about time needed to be productive. Use apps or browser extensions to cut down on social media scrolling. Put your phone ringer on but leave it on the other side of the room. Having your attention split will not only cut down on your productivity, but vastly extend the time it takes to complete the same tasks.
Need more convincing? Be diligent about logging your work time or check screen usage on your phone to see just how many hours you’ve spent doing what. Quantifying the results is usually an eye-opener.
End your day definitively.
One of the big challenges I faced when first working from home is that you’re simultaneously always working, and also never working.
Am I on right now? Off? If I’m typing, I’m working…if I’m not…am I…just, what?
Stages of the day can blur into themselves when there isn’t something dividing them like a commute, a meeting, an alarm, or something definitive.
Being able to mentally transition into the next phase of the day is an important way to create separation and shift into a different mindset. Give yourself permission to disconnect and turn off.
This is another reason why having a dedicated work space is so important, there is an energy shift that happens when you walk out of that room or away from that desk.
I originally published this article on Medium.
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