By now, we’re all well aware that working from home has very much become the new ‘norm’. As such, working smarter is something we’re all going to have to start to think about. Just this week, Twitter told its employees they would have the option to work from home indefinitely if they feel it better suits them.
The post-coronavirus world is undeniably going to lead to permanent changes to our everyday lives. The way we work and the flexibility of office life is likely to be one of the more noticeable shifts.
However, just because we’re two months into the working from home movement, you don’t need to judge yourself against others. It’s normal to still be finding it difficult to focus and stay motivated – especially for those extroverts out there!
Here are our top five ways for working smarter, not harder, while we’re at home.
Track where you waste time
If you’re struggling to motivate yourself at home, you’ll probably be aware of certain times of the day you find it most difficult to concentrate. For a lot of people, first thing in the morning proves to be a struggle.
Rolling out of your bed and to the kitchen table, sofa or wherever it is you’re working hardly feels the same as the morning commute. This can oftentimes leave you feeling a little lethargic.
In order to make the most out of your day, identify whatever time/s you find to be the most difficult to work and find ways to improve this. For example, if it’s the morning, try to keep as much of your previous work routine as possible.
Set your alarm as you normally would when working in the office and with the time you’d usually spend commuting you can instead try something mood-boosting. This could be some exercise, yoga, a shower, a call with your family – whatever gets you up and invigorated.
By identifying the times of day where you start lagging can help you to better plan and schedule your workload. Save the smaller jobs for the times you struggle with and the more important tasks will naturally fit in with the times of the day you usually feel most productive.
Cutting yourself some slack is another great way of increasing your productivity levels. When we say ‘reward’ yourself, we don’t mean a sticker chart. Rather, whenever you finish a task, why not make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, treat yourself 10-minute scroll through social media or whatever it is that distracts you.
These short breaks help to reset your mind and will give you a chance to catch up with friends and family. Knowing you’ve got something lined up when you’ve finished a task not only gives you a little bit of structure, but it also helps you to feel motivated throughout your day.
Take visual breaks
Obviously, the importance of visual breaks should never be ignored. Just as you reward yourself with a 10-minute break, make sure you’re also giving your eyes and mind a visual break too. Whether that’s staring out of the window for a few minutes or going for a quick walk up and down your street. These ‘no-screen’ breaks will stop you from becoming tired and overworked.
If you think about it, you’d never sit at your desk for eight hours straight looking at a screen. You’re in face-to-face meetings, on phone calls, chatting with your colleagues or making a round of brews. Don’t be too hard on yourself and allow your mind time to wander. This helps you to stay focused and ultimately, work smarter.
Ditch the email threads
Something we can all acknowledge is that working from home has helped us to cut back on unnecessary email threads with people who sit two desks down from ourselves. With video calling, we have now found ways of streamlining a lot of these conversations. However, old habits die hard.
To keep up the momentum, make sure you’re regularly booking in video calls with colleagues to talk about any relevant tasks or projects. If you notice the dreaded email threads making a comeback, create a video call meeting to nip it in the bud.
The more we can talk to each other the faster and more efficiently we can work. Plus, it gives us an excuse to have a fifteen-minute natter with our colleagues which can be a refreshing pause in our day.
Build on good habits
One of the biggest concerns about working from home is that people may still experience burnout. While on the surface of things it would seem that working from home would actually be more relaxing, it can for some increase stress levels.
The lack of access to resources and colleagues can be difficult. Plus, a lot of people feel the need to work overtime to ‘prove’ that they are actually working. With the world seemingly treading on eggshells, it’s natural to want to work more to help keep things afloat. However, this can actually be doing more damage than good.
Make sure you’re getting into good habits and you’re sticking to them. Here are a few examples:
- Turn your laptop off at the end of your day so you’re not tempted to keep checking your emails.
- Ensure you’re sticking to your hour lunch break.
- Set up an office station in your house so you associate it with work.
- Get dressed every day. It doesn’t have to be smart but just something that isn’t your pyjamas.
These good habits will help you to keep some normality to your day. If you start to be flexible with your usual work rules, you’ll find it difficult to concentrate and be productive.
While it might seem easy to some, working from home can actually be incredibly difficult for others. Luckily, these things take time and practice. With more and more companies thinking about the possibility of working from home more often, or even permanently, improving your habits and routines now will massively benefit you in the future.