COVID-19 has caused us all to reconsider the way we work and has forced many of us to begin working from home without necessarily being prepared to do so. Rather than focusing on the difficulties, however, let’s focus our energy on ensuring that this change in working is successful and that the lessons we learn will improve the way that we work moving forward. The following tips will help you to make working from home a success – both now and in the future:
Start each day with a plan:
To help stay on track while working from home (temporarily or for an extended period), try to stick to your typical routine as best you can, and plan your day just as you would if you were working in the office. Understand what is expected of you – by your manager and your organisation – and schedule your day accordingly. Consider when you work best and plan the more challenging tasks to coincide with the time of day when you are most alert.
Additionally, setting goals for your work day will help you to stay motivated. However, for this to be effective, you need to be strict and hold yourself accountable.
Stay productive during the day:
Of course, there will be unexpected tasks and meetings that you hadn’t accounted for in your planning – but that’s to be expected! What’s important is that you don’t let these unforeseen demands derail your entire day. Reshuffle your plans and re-schedule what you can to the following day.
Maintaining a normal routine includes taking regular breaks. Even though you are at home, it is still necessary to take the time to pull away from your work area. Whether you choose to relax, have something to eat, exercise, or call a friend, make sure that you give yourself some time off to reset and recharge.
The key to any long-distance (work) relationship is regular communication, so make sure that you keep communicating with your peers and leaders. Continue to check in on projects and provide updates but also allow time for casual conversation with your colleagues. Frequent communication with peers will go a long way to sustaining a positive team morale, which is particularly important in the uncertain and ever-changing circumstances that we are all experiencing.
Make sure that you keep referring back to your goals throughout the day. The only way to know if you are on track is to review your deadlines or goals. Tracking your progress will help you to see if you have been distracted or less productive than you anticipated and will then give you the opportunity to take accountability, reset and refocus for the rest of the day.
Reflect at the end of the day:
As you approach the end of your work day, reflect and evaluate what did and what did not work. Making an honest self-assessment will allow you to identify what, if anything, needs to change in order for you to be more effective the following day.
When working from home, it can be useful to establish a ritual that symbolises the end of your work day. This can be as simple as packing up your work area, just as you would if you were preparing to leave the office. Denoting the end of your work day will assist you in keeping work and home life separate and ensuring that you don’t end up working an excessive amount of hours each day.