Now that COVID-19 has hit, many companies like Amazon and Netflix has told their employees to work from home. To many, including me, it’s exciting that workplaces are finally starting to think more about remote work. Employees have been clamouring for remote work for years. But working from home has its own challenges and having been working from home a bit in the last few months, I want to share a few tips that I hope will be helpful to you.
Dedicate a Designated Workspace
One of the main challenges of working from home is getting the right balance between not getting enough work done, to never switching off of work. Some people will succumb to their distractions in the form of Youtube, Netflix, or video games, whereas others work too long into the night. To help this issue, you can dedicate a designated workspace in your home purely for work.
The habit of working in a particular area can help you separate productivity time and down time. You can compartmentalize subconsciously between work and play. Without a clear boundary, you can have more urges to become distracted.
P.S. This is also a reason why you shouldn’t work in bed, since your mind will be thinking about work when trying to sleep.
Set a Routine
When you work in an office, you can pack your stuff up at the end of the day, and not think about it at all once you get home. But when you work remotely, you bring your work with you home.
Make sure you set a routine for yourself. If you normally do a 9 to 5, force yourself to end at 5 even at home. Otherwise, it’ll be easy to disrupt your personal life by constantly thinking about work problems. Make sure not to put work first over your family priorities and self-care.
Do not Multitask
When working or studying at home, it’s really tempting to throw on Netflix in the background, especially for any repetitive tasks. However, if you’re doing some deep work like computer programming, multitasking DOES NOT work. Research has shown that multitasking is like doing many things poorly, versus doing one task well.
Each person works differently, but to be productive, I put on some Chillhop, Jazz, or coffee shop background white noise during my work sessions. I know some friends listen to music with lyrics, or even podcasts. I personally have a tough time concentrating while listening to something with words, but it may work for you. In any case, if you feel like something is distracting, stop and try to focus on single-tasking.
Keep the Phone Away
One problem I have, even at work, is the distraction of my cell phone. The constant urge to check notifications, or browse for anything new on Reddit, is a hard habit to overcome. I found it even harder at home when I know no one will be watching.
To keep productive, try to keep your phone in a different room. When the distraction is out-of-sight, it is easier to be out-of-mind. Another tip, if you feel too disconnected in the world, is to put Whatsapp-Web on your computer. That way, you still have outside connections in case your friends or family message, but at least surfing social media is not at your fingertips.
When working from home, especially if you live by yourself, you can start to feel really isolated. We humans are social creatures, and even introverts need some time forming connections.
To make sure you keep some contact with my community, intentionally go out and seek the fresh air. I enjoy running, so in the afternoon when my energy dips around 2-3pm, I go out for a quick jog. At night, you can make a point to go out, whether it be a simple grocery run, going to the gym, or meeting up with some friends. If you’re adventurous, try joining a Meetup event in your community.
If you are in self-isolation mode, try video-chatting your family or friends. Just make a point to stay in contact.
Bonus: Break Up Your Day with Chores
I am a bit OCD. When I’m stuck on a problem at work, or just need a break for a bit, I find it really helpful to take a pause to do some household chores. Most chores don’t use a lot of brain power, so I can zone out for a bit while still being productive. Some good choices are vacuuming, washing the dishes, or folding laundry. This helps with my OCD of being a clean freak.
An added bonus is that I don’t have to do all the chores at once on the weekend! More time freed up to enjoy the sun (or Netflix if I’m self-isolating).
Working From Home is Great
Working from home is great. It gives you more freedom and flexibility while reducing time for commuting. However, there can be some downsides. Some tips that helps me when working from home are to:
- Dedicate a Designated Workspace
- Set a Routine
- Do not Multitask
- Keep the Phone Away
- Break Up Your Workday with Chores
Hope that helps you make the most out of working remotely. Share any of your own tips that help you while working from home 🙂