Planning Your Day
- Wake up with enough time to get ready for your day the way you would if you were going to an office
- Even if you want to wear comfortable clothes, you should still make an effort to change out of your pyjamas into a clean, fresh outfit.
- Give yourself enough time to eat, drink coffee, etc. before your workday officially starts (if that is part of your usual routine)
- Designate your start and end times, and stick to them. Having all your work with you at home makes it easy for it to bleed into your home life, and can affect your stress levels and relationships at home.
- Plan your schedule at the beginning of your day, prioritize your task list, and set some self-imposed deadlines to keep yourself on track. (Calendar apps or physical agendas are helpful for this)
- Make sure to designate your break times the same way that you would in an office, and STEP AWAY from your workspace. Eat, drink your beverage of choice, stretch, listen to some music or a podcast, but DO NOT keep working. This will help to keep you sane and make you feel refreshed when you get back to work.
- Plan or prep your meals the night before, just as you would if you were going to an office. It can be tempting to spend time preparing a nice breakfast or lunch for yourself, but you lose precious minutes of your designated break times doing so – which means that you will be more likely to have “working lunches”, and forget to relax.
- Make sure to choose a dedicated workspace that you can use every day. Do not work from your bed, and if possible, avoid working from your bedroom altogether. Bringing work into your bedroom makes it harder to separate your work life and your home life, and has an effect on the mental association between your bedroom and relaxation, as well as your ability to sleep at night. “This mental link can also hamper productivity if people do try to bring work into the bedroom. If people are usually in “relax mode” when they get into bed, trying to do work there might be more difficult than usual, because their brain will think it’s time to sleep.”
- As much as possible, you should mimic the workspace that you are used to. If that means an office, then you should try to set yourself up at a table and chair rather than on your couch or lying down. Maintain your routine as closely as you can to ensure your productivity among so many factors of distraction.
- Communicate your expectations with anyone who will be home with you. Not only to discuss your expectations of them (quiet, no distractions), but also to set your boundaries as to what they can expect of you while you are “at work”. They may forget that you are committing to work time and not home time.
- In this same vein, staying at home can lead to your home tasks plaguing you more than they would if you at work and not having them stare you in the face all day long. For example, I work at the kitchen table, and have a hard time with not cleaning dishes or emptying and filling the dishwasher when I’m supposed to be working. To mitigate this, mentally (or out loud to the other members of the household, if necessary) designate the time that you will finish those tasks – whether it’s during your lunch or breaks, or after your workday is over.
- Keep up with work communications as much as possible. When your colleagues aren’t sharing your workspace, it can be easy to forget to include them and maintain the collaborations that naturally happen in an office setting.
- Maintain any kind of human connection you can. Having a screen between you and the rest of your team can make it easy for you to feel like you haven’t seen or heard from anyone in a long time, despite being connected through messaging apps or email services. When possible, try to pick up the phone or schedule a video chat to make your discussions feel more personal and productive.
- Keep in mind that no one ever expects you to be working at full tilt from the start to finish of your day. The ebb and flow of productivity occur naturally over the course of the day in all work settings — no need to feel guilty if you lose motivation or get distracted. This is normal.
- Take advantage of the times of day when you are at your most motivated and focussed to tackle your hardest tasks, and leave the easier ones for the slower points of your day as an easy win for you to tick off your to do list.
- If you have a designated work computer, you probably won’t have social networks as available to you, but most people have social media accounts saved to their bookmarks bar; making it all the easier to click away during a moment of distraction. If possible, delete these bookmarks, move them into a folder to make them harder to access, or add an extension to your web browser that blocks social media and entertainment sites (e.g.: Strict Workflow)
- Keep some background noise that helps you stay efficient. Some people work better with the sounds of people around them (like you would in an office), others need specific types of music to stay focused. Depending on what works best for you, you may enjoy having a dedicated playlist, podcast, or even the TV on in the background. No, I don’t mean shows that you actually enjoy watching. I’m talking History Channel, or the news, or some other show that you won’t be inclined to watch instead of working. Obviously, this practice will not be effective for everyone, so find your specific brand of “in the zone”.
- Remember to move your body whenever possible. Working from home makes it easy for you to go from bed to desk to couch to bed again – especially when there aren’t many options for going outside. Here is a good resource for getting some stretching in at your desk.