If you used to feel jealous of friends who work from home full time, now is when you get to walk a mile in their shoes (as long as you do it indoors). Here are some helpful insights into how to stay productive and adapt to this 'new normal' without going stir-crazy.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, in the ocean, on another planet, you may have heard about this little thing called Coronavirus or COVID-19. Over the last couple of months, COVID-19 has begun to disrupt all of our lives. One unexpected consequence is that we’re now taking part in the largest work-from-home experiment humanity has ever seen.
If you used to feel jealous of friends who work from home full time, now is when you get to walk a mile in their shoes (as long as you do it indoors). The good news is that there are a lot of upsides to working from home, even if you’re being forced to. For example, you can say goodbye to long commutes. Now the office is just a few steps away.
Right now, we’re all on the same boat, so we want to help out. Many members of our team have been working at home for a long time, so we can offer some unique insights into how to stay productive and adapt to this ‘new normal’ without going stir-crazy. Let’s get right to it!
Why Remote Work May Become the New Normal
Remote work is hardly a new concept. Telecommuting has been a thing for decades (seriously), even if it’s only now that a lot of employers are beginning to embrace it more fully.
Even if your business wasn’t among the most remote-work-friendly until now, however, they may have little choice in the matter. A lot of countries are under partial or full quarantines, so if you can do your work from home, you might have to.
Putting aside the viral elephant in the room, this massive experiment in remote working could become a turning point in labor history. No one is sure when business will return to normal, so that means a lot of companies may have to adapt to telecommuting for extended periods of time.
Traditionally, businesses frame remote work as a perk they offer for employees. However, it can benefit companies as well in several ways. For example:
- Studies consistently show that remote workers tend to be more productive.
- You can save costs on office space.
- It can help reduce employee turnover.
Of course, there’s one primary reason most people covet the idea of working from home, and that is because you don’t have to put pants on in the morning. However, it can be hard to be productive sans pants, so let’s talk about how you can make the best of the current situation.
5 Useful Tips to Help You Stay Productive When Working From Home
Usually, the first thing we’d tell you if you’re going to be working remotely is to make time to go outside. Take in the sun, pet some dogs, buy a coffee, and just enjoy stretching your legs.
Due to the current situation, however, we all have to make do as best we can within our homes. Many of us are feeling a bit cooped up, but one of the best ways to fight that is to make an effort to remain productive. Here are five ways to do just that.
1. Put Clear Boundaries Between Work and Time Off
Welcome to the world of telecommuting, where the boundaries between work and time off become blurry. When you’re working right next to your kitchen, with a big TV and family members to distract you at hand, it can be hard to switch between ‘office’ and ‘time off’ modes.
The first thing you’ll need to do, for your own sake, is to underline those boundaries. If you’re supposed to work eight hours a day, stick to that schedule, and don’t let work creep in on your time off.
That time off is essential to ensuring that you don’t burn out. One positive aspect of telecommuting, though, is that in a lot of cases, you get to choose your own hours. We all have ‘peak’ productivity times. For some people, it’s early in the morning. Others get the bulk of their work done before lunch, and so on.
What you want to do is identify when you’re most productive and build your schedule around those times. While you’re working, avoid distractions such as social media – particularly social media – unless you’re on a break. Once you clock out, close your work tabs, snooze your email, and go do something that makes you happy.
2. Ensure That You Have a Proper Home Setup
Usually, when you see pictures of remote workers or digital nomads, they’re working next to a pool under a bright sun, sipping a nice Coro… let’s say a daiquiri.
Personally, we’ve never met a single remote worker who could get things done sitting next to a pool. Productive telecommuting requires a proper setup where you can feel comfortable working for long stretches of time.
For us, here’s what constitutes a productive setup for remote work:
- A comfortable chair
- Good lighting
- A decent work computer with a stable internet connection
- An environment you feel comfortable in, with as few distractions as possible.
Everyone has different standards when it comes to their ideal setup. As you adapt to remote work, you’ll notice what is and isn’t important for you. For some of our team, they need their big screens and little knick-knacks to get work done:
Make an effort to adapt your setup to your standards, and your productivity is likely to skyrocket.
3. Get an Accountability Buddy
The concept of an accountability buddy is simple. It’s someone who reminds you to stop wasting time on Netflix and get back to work. The best part is that the reminder can go both ways.
Perhaps the hardest part of working from home is avoiding distractions. If you’re alone, there’s no one to tell you to get off social media and be productive. Even if you only waste a few minutes now and then, that can really add up over time.
Since you’re working remotely, you and your accountability buddy will have to check in online. Here’s how that arrangement might work:
- You check in with each other at the start of each workday, and share your to-do lists.
- You’ll then send a few messages throughout the day, to make sure you’re on track and blow off a little steam.
- Finally, you can check in again at the end of the workday, to see how much progress you both made.
Checking in with your accountability buddy shouldn’t feel like work, hence the term ‘buddy’. Ideally, this person will be someone you feel comfortable with, so you won’t have any qualms about telling each other to stop wasting time. Right now, the market is flush with potential accountability buddies, so you can have your pick.
4. Take Advantage of the Time You Save From Your Commute
The phrase “I love my long commute” has probably never been uttered in the entirety of human history. If it has, that person was probably lying.
A lot of people find ways to make their commutes more tolerable. We listen to audiobooks and podcasts, get some reading done, and so on. However, all of those distractions don’t take away from the simple truth that long commutes isn’t how we want to be using our time.
Now that you’re working from the comfort of your bedroom/living room/kitchen or dinner table/terrace (if you’re lucky!) there are no more commutes. This means that you might suddenly find yourself with an extra hour or two in your day.
What to do with that time is up to you – if you want to get a headstart on work so you can be done earlier, that’s fine. However, we recommend that you take that time and invest it in yourself.
Every morning, before you get to work, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, sip your coffee slowly, or maybe watch an episode of your favorite series. Work isn’t going anywhere and you deserve a little pampering, which brings us to the next productivity tip.
5. Continue Your Daily Self-Care Rituals
This particular tip is simple but important – just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you need to give up on personal hygiene and your other daily rituals. In fact, if you’re cooped up, it becomes even more important to take care of yourself.
That includes, but is not limited to:
- Showering and maybe shaving (beards are in, after all)
- Doing home workouts if you can, even if they’re simple
- Making time to indulge in your hobbies (now is the perfect time to start cooking at home!)
- Putting. On. Pants.
That last one can be optional – even shorts will do. However, for some people, dressing as if they were going to the office is paramount to staying productive. You might do best in comfortable house-wear, but it’s worth experimenting to see if the way you dress can help you maintain a clearer boundary between work and play.
The first few days working from home, you’re likely to be in love with the change. However, a lot of people find it difficult to remain productive while working remotely over the long term. If you’re being thrust into remote work with no warning, you may need a little help to ensure that your sanity remains intact and everything gets done on time.
Finding ways to stay productive while under quarantine is a whole different ball game, and the tips we provided are great places to start.
What are you doing to stay productive during enforced remote working periods? Share your tips with us in the comments section below!