Most of us are working from home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Working remotely on a long-term basis can be a little daunting and lonely at first, but know that you’re not alone. Here are some tips for staying productive and energised during your time away from the office.
Like most of you right now, the entire Lexer team has moved online.
Many of us are working remotely for the first time, others for the longest period of our lives. Adjusting can be difficult, but it’s entirely possible to remain productive and energised while working at home.
We rounded up the tips and tricks Lexis are using to manage this change successfully. We hope you find these tips helpful during this unprecedented time!
1. Stick to the same morning routine every day.
The science behind habit and routine is clear: Good routines help you get into “work mode” and set the stage for high achievement.
Working from home for the first time, you might feel like your pre-work routine has taken a critical hit. By building other types of routines into your day, you can help yourself focus each morning and maintain optimal levels of productivity.
For example, if you’re used to commuting to the office, you might spend a few minutes each morning driving around and listening to music in your car. Or you might set and stick to an at-home routine that includes exercise, showering, breakfast, and getting dressed in actual work clothes.
2. Create a dedicated workspace for yourself.
… and work there every day. It’s not always possible to have a full office to yourself, but it’s important to avoid working from places where you typically sleep, play, or do other non-work-related tasks. Similar to your pre-work habits, which help your brain transition into “work mode,” your work environment will have a more positive impact on your productivity if it’s consistent and comfortable.
For example, when one Lexi started working from home, she rearranged her living room furniture so that her desk faces out the window and not into the rest of the apartment. That way, when she sits down to work, she’s 100% focused on her computer and not distracted by the bills on her counter or the dishes in the sink.
3. Keep your house clean!
Cluttered space = cluttered mind. Organised space = organised mind.
When you’re working from home, it’s easy to get distracted by your unmade bed, the dust on your bookshelf, or that spot on the wall that you keep meaning to paint over.
The best way to avoid those distractions? Eliminate them.
Take the evening or the weekend to deep-clean your house, and do your best to maintain it while you’re working from home. You might find the process of cleaning up relaxing, and it’ll be easier to focus on your work once it’s done.
4. Take breaks and be strict about your work hours.
The stereotype of remote work is that you’ll lay in bed all day and get nothing done, but some Lexis have found that the opposite is true: Because their home is also their workplace, they tend to overwork instead of signing off at the end of the day and quickly become burnt out.
Especially during this period of high-stress and uncertainty, burnout is a real risk. If you find that you’re either:
- Struggling to focus, or
- Focusing so hard that you’re getting tunnel vision and mumbling to yourself
… then get up, do jumping jacks, go for a walk, spend 15 minutes reading a book, call a friend, meditate, etc. The time you spend not working is equally as important as the time you spend working. Use that time wisely. Make it count.
Remote workers can be easy to ignore. Don’t ignore your coworkers when they reach out to you, and don’t let anybody ignore you either.
Get into the habit of sending quick notes and updates whenever you’ve completed a task, and be diligent about following up on action items after meetings.
Don’t forget to communicate about life things too. Send memes, articles, and jokes to your coworkers. Use emojis. Have fun. Now more than ever, having fun and sharing laughs with your teammates is critical.
6. If you’re someone who prefers speaking over writing, consider sending video updates instead of writing them down.
Effective communication can take many forms, and it’s important that you find a communication style that works for you to avoid mishaps and misunderstandings while you’re away from the office.
Some people find that putting their thoughts in writing helps them express themselves more eloquently, but others are passionate speakers who love talking off the cuff. If you’re the latter, don’t feel that you’re confined to text updates just because you’re working from home.
Zoom lets you record and download meetings, so you can brainstorm freely with your coworkers and don’t have to worry about writing up a meeting record for your teammates. Vidyard also has a great Google Chrome extension that can help you take quick, personal screengrab videos for communicating with your teammates, clients, and prospects.
7. Find a time management strategy that works for you.
Time management is an important skill regardless, but it’s especially important when you’re working from home.
If you haven’t developed an effective time management strategy, consider exploring different options and figuring out what works best for you. We asked Lexis what their favourite time management strategies were, and they included:
- Making a list of prioritised tasks every morning
- Using planning tools like Asana or ClickUp
Choose one you like and plan your schedule accordingly.
8. Leave your phone on silent and in another room while you work.
This tip is probably self-explanatory: We’ve all been distracted by our phones at work. At home, where there’s nobody potentially looking over your shoulder, it’s even more of a temptation. Eliminate that temptation by keeping your phone off and away from your desk.
If you do need to check your phone, schedule regular intervals for that, so that your mind isn’t wandering toward it every 15 minutes.
9. Don’t eat at your desk.
Again, this tip is related to good habit-building and routines. If you let yourself fall into the habit of eating at your desk, you’ll start to feel hungry every time you sit down to work.
On top of that, meals are an easy way to schedule in break times to reset your brain and prevent burnout.
When it’s time to eat, go sit somewhere else, think about something other than work, and actually enjoy your meals.
10. Tend to your mental health.
This looks different for everybody.
If you’re an introvert, you might find remote work to be quite energising; instead of expending all of your social and emotional energy at work, you can use your workday to focus and nurture the deep-thinking that introversion so often entails. But if you’re an extrovert, you might feel like you’ve been cut off at the knees without the regular social interaction you can access at work.
Extroverted people can successfully work from home too, but in either case, you’ll need to be intentional and proactive about getting your needs met.
Remember that it’s normal to feel stressed, anxious, or lonely during this time. We’re all in this together. Take care of yourself, so that we can all take care of each other.