In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of companies have been switching to the ‘work-at-home’ dynamic. Before the pandemic, I used to work from home 2 or 3 days a week. Working from home can be challenging, and it takes a while to get used to that routine and find balance.
I want to share some tips I’ve learned along the way, before and during the pandemic, that has preserved my productivity and sanity.
Designate a working space
When working from home, it can be quite difficult to keep your personal and working life separate. I suggest you set up a space in your home that is exclusively for work. Only use that space when your working so you don’t ‘blur’ the lines between the personal/leisure and professional.
Define your working hours
This depends on the type of work you do, but I think it’s important to define your working hours when you’re at home. Most people usually work 8 hours in a day. A typical 8am-5pm or 9am-6pm.
At home, things may flow a little differently, you need to prepare your mails, take care of your home, family members and/or pets. Things happen during the day that can deter your regular work routine. Define working hours for yourself where you can dedicate to working without any (or the least amount) of interruptions. After those hours, dedicate time for yourself, family, and other chores.
My working hours are usually 7am-4pm or 8am-5pm. I prefer starting earlier so I can have more time to do other things around the house in the afternoon or evening. There are days where I might work more time, depending on the situation, but setting those hours have really helped me, and I definitely feel more productive.
It may sound counter-productive, but taking breaks during the day is very important. There are methods like the Pomodoro Technique where you can break down work into intervals. For example:
- Define a work task
- Set a timer for 25 minutes
- Work on your task
- After 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break. After the break, set the timer again for 25 minutes. Repeat.
Personally, I apply a ‘modified’ version of the Pomodoro Technique where I work non-stop for 50-60 minutes, and then take a 10-15 minute break. During my breaks, I either walk around the house, play with the cats, stretch, have a snack, catch up on personal things, and more.
I’ve found that taking breaks during the day makes me avoid the feeling of overwhelm and it increases my productivity. It may not work for everyone, but working non-stop all day is not good for your body or mental health. Find what works best for you.
Connect with your co-workers
For work, it’s important that you maintain a healthy amount of communication so your team can know what you’re working on. Nowadays, there are tools that make this a lot easier like Slack or Asana. Keep in touch, reach out if you have questions. Sometimes, a quick text or instant message can be more effective than an email.
See and hear your loved ones
At home, it helps to communicate or ‘check-in’ with your loved ones at some point during the day. During this pandemic, most of us probably haven’t seen family members or friends in weeks. Send them a ‘hello! how are you doing?’ every now and then. If you have people that live with you, spend time with them often. It helps tremendously to fight that loneliness factor.
Don’t eat where you work
It may sound silly, but avoid having lunch or dinner in your workspace. Have that separation when doing personal/every-day tasks. I was guilty of doing it a few years ago and it got to a point where I would rarely leave my office during the day for anything, which can become not beneficial long term.
Do you work from home? Do you have any tips to share?