Living the Quarantine Life: 6 Ways to Make Working from Home Actually Work

Top Six Productivity Tips

Our edition of ‘The Roaring Twenties’ wasn’t anything we expected, with quarantine, social distancing, and “flattening the curve” becoming the most important words and phrases in our vocabulary. Humans are creatures of habit and so this ‘new normal’ of being away from family, friends, and colleagues for weeks, perhaps months, is uncharted territory. But we are adjusting, and businesses with the ability to have employees work from home are taking full advantage.

Working from home means comfy clothes, flexible schedules, and zero commuting. Then again, remote work can be quite lonely, boring, and lead to 2-hour power naps. Plus, no one wants to have to deal with a lagging internet connection. If you’re starting to feel the work-from-home blues, we can help boost your productivity and creativity with six powerful tips.

1. Set a Morning Routine & Stick with It

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

— John C. Maxwell

How you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day and can influence your mood, energy, and performance. Establishing a morning routine allows you to begin each day with focus, purpose, and intention.

Perhaps you enjoy getting out of bed and doing some light stretching or sitting down to meditate, or maybe you’d rather start the day reading or going outside for some exercise.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating the perfect morning routine; spend some time testing different habits until you find one that motivates and energizes you. The goal is to start your day with the right mindset and become more conscious of how you spend your time upon waking.

Regardless of how you spend your morning — whether it’s getting up early and taking a cold shower or, making coffee and meditating — it’s important to create habits that set you up for success.

Having a positive morning routine puts you in control of your day while preparing your mind for optimal performance.

2. Create a Designated Office Space

One of the biggest challenges to working remotely is avoiding distractions that inherently come with being at the house.. Keeping your work life separate from your home life can quickly become a struggle.

However, planning and setting ground rules will help ease your transition to a home office. Start by finding an area that’s quiet and away from distractions. Once you’ve selected a suitable workspace, spend some time setting up and organizing your new office.

Tip: Commit to working from this space every day, and communicate to your family that while you’re there, you’re at work.

Creating a designated workspace can help you minimize the stress of your new circumstances and reduce the amount of unnecessary distractions.

3. Define Your Work Hours

When working from home, procrastination can easily creep in, making it hard to focus and be productive for extended periods of time. This leads to mismanaged time and a heavy workload, especially when working against the clock. In order to combat this stress, decide what hours you’ll be working each day. Once you’ve created your daily schedule, it’s important to communicate these hours with friends, family, and co-workers.

When you set clear boundaries, others will learn to respect your time and productivity.

4. Have a Plan

It’s important to understand how your day-to-day tasks contribute to your team’s overall success.

  • Think about your high-level goals.
  • Ask yourself what you need to do and why you need to do it.
  • Be sure to set and track these goals over a specific time period. Collaborate with your team regularly to ensure everyone is working towards the same objective.

Once you’ve established your team’s high-level goals, begin prioritizing your daily tasks. To do so, take your list and narrow it down to reflect what you can reasonably accomplish in a week. Remember to set time limits for each task.

Tip: Focus on completing 3—5 tasks from your list each day.

5. Check-In with Co-Workers Frequently

When working with a remote team, it’s crucial that you learn to communicate effectively.

Dedicate time to meet with your team via web chat, live video, and conference calls regularly. In addition to team meetings, it’s also important to collaborate one-on-one or in small groups with team members that you work closely with.

Effective communication is essential to your team’s culture, productivity, and overall success. Here are a few ways you can help improve your team’s communication efforts:

  • Know when to send a message vs. picking up the phone to call
  • Schedule weekly team meetings to touch base, discuss goals, and project priorities
  • Set up one-on-one meetings for real-time collaboration
  • Share your calendar with your team

6. Take Short Breaks Throughout the Day

When the lines between work and home become blurred, it can be difficult to understand when to disconnect. Taking breaks throughout the day to relax and refocus is an effective way to prevent burnout.

A research study by the University of Illinois suggests that taking short breaks throughout the day can drastically improve focus, increase productivity, and enhance creativity. Additionally, not taking breaks can lead to decision fatigue, eye strain, or a lack of motivation and focus. In another article on productivity in the workplace, The New York Times states:

“A new and growing body of research shows that strategic renewal – including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations – boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.”

Schedule breaks intermittently throughout the day that allow you to disconnect and detach. Here are a few activities to try during your breaks:

  • Stretch
  • Meditate
  • Go for a walk to get some fresh air
  • Eat a snack
  • Read a book
  • Chat with a friend or co-worker

Life is a bit different nowadays, and t transitioning to remote work can feel overwhelming. But, with the right mindset and a plan in hand, you’re equipped to master your work-from-home schedule and be more productive.

Understand that working remotely will take some time to get used to. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  1. Have patience with yourself
  2. Take note of what’s working and what’s not
  3. Manage expectations
  4. Avoid distractions
  5. Take breaks regularly

Remember to implement these strategies to stay focused and avoid distractions, become more productive, reduce stress, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.