Right now, everything in the world looks a little different: restaurant dining rooms are closed, school is canceled, toilet paper (of all things) is nowhere to be found, and just about everyone is working from home.
We’re all adjusting as best we can, but it can be hard to stay productive when you’re in a new environment, facing new challenges. As we all make this adjustment together, we’ve come up with a few ideas on how to continue to be effective and productive in a time of social distancing.
Create a dedicated work space.
Working from home can be challenging, mostly because it makes it even more difficult to make the mental shift from “home time” to “work time.” To help with this, create a space in your home that is dedicated to work. Try not to do anything in that space that isn’t related to work, and keep your work within that area (instead of migrating around the house). Half the battle of working from home is getting in the right mindset; having a dedicated space can help!
Set a schedule.
Just like you need a place to regularly work from, you should have a set work schedule as well. This can be extremely difficult, especially if you are dealing with home-from-school children, but it’s worth the effort, since it will designate work time and help you focus. Make sure that you’re available when your company and coworkers need you to be, but remember: you probably have at least a little room for flexibility, so find a schedule that works for you, and do your best to stick to it.
Whatever schedule you set for yourself, be sure to run it by your manager and communicate it to your coworkers. Are you going to do certain tasks first thing in the morning? Are you committed to being 100% done with work by 5:00? When your coworkers know what to expect from you, things will run much more smoothly.
Communicate well and often.
When working from home, but as part of a team, good communication is absolutely essential. Your coworkers might already have a preferred way to communicate amongst yourselves, but if not, now is the time to figure it out. There are plenty of platforms out there that allow for chat, video conferencing, and more, so find one that works for you and use it frequently during your work day.
Again, working from home is all about mindset. You’re probably not going to be able to get in the right mindset for work if you’re in your pajamas, working from your bed. Maintain a sense of professionalism while you’re working from home by getting dressed (in real clothes) every day.
Take breaks as needed.
Any work day should include some regular breaks, including work days at home. Make sure you’re giving yourself a lunch break, and that you’re also taking time to stand up throughout the day.
It probably won’t be able to completely eliminate all distractions while you’re working from home, but you can do your best to minimize them. One big distraction for a lot of people is social media. Try logging out of your accounts and turning off notifications so you don’t get sucked into scrolling through your feed. You might also want to get some noise-canceling headphones to help drown out distracting background noise. Whatever is distracting you, there’s probably something you can do about it. Get creative and stay focused!
Stay positive and motivated.
When you’re working from home, it can be hard to feel like you’re really a contributing member of a team, which can be discouraging. Not to mention, with all the unsurety and fear in the world, it can be hard to ignore your own personal stress and anxiety so you can be productive at work. If you feel like your feelings are negatively impacting your work, find ways to deal with your feelings in healthy ways. Meditation, journaling, a conversation with a friend, clearing your head on a walk—anything that helps you feel relaxed is ultimately going to help you remain positive and motivated when it’s time to work.
Related: How to Find Temporary IT Jobs
Working home doesn’t really work for everyone, but unfortunately, it’s what most people have to do right now, whether they want to or not. But with a little focus and discipline (plus a good attitude), you can make it happen and continue to be a hardworking, productive employee. You got this!
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