If you have always wondered what it would be like to work from home, you might be getting the chance to find out. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking people to practice social distancing,¹ many employees are working remotely as part of the effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Remote employees make up anywhere from 5.3%² (those who typically work from home) to nearly two-thirds³ (who work remotely ever) of the U.S. workforce, but that number has certainly grown recently.
Working at home can be a big adjustment for people who are used to spending their days surrounded by co-workers and the bustle of a busy office. If you’ve been wondering how to be productive working from home, you’re not alone. These tips should help you find ways to do your best work at home.
1. Create a workspace that works for you
It can be a challenge to carve out some space where you can work, but it’s important to create a dedicated work area for yourself. If you have the space, converting an extra bedroom into a workspace is great. Having a separate space with a door that you can close when you need to work without distractions is ideal. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible. If you are pressed for space but have to find a space in your home to work, you might need to be creative and try taking over:
An outdoor deck or patio
A finished basement
A kitchen island
A formal living room or dining room
2. Minimize distractions when working remotely from home
A hard part of working at home can be minimizing distractions and staying productive, especially if working at home is new to you. Choosing a workspace that is away from distractions like the TV is a good place to start, but there are a lot of other distractions that you’ll encounter, including:
A partner also working from home
You may need to use some creative solutions in order to deal with those distractions, such as:
Schedule meetings when children are napping or doing online schoolwork.
Put pets in another room or hire a pet sitter to walk them a couple of times each day.
Create your workspace on the opposite side of the house from your partner so you can both work without distractions.
Wear noise-canceling headphones.
Turn off your phone. If you can’t turn it off because you’re using it for work, you can remove your social media apps so that you’re not tempted to look at them.
Work in bursts of two to three hours and get as much done during those blocks of time as you can.
Put a sign on your workspace to let your family know that they shouldn’t bother you during set hours each day.
3. Create a routine
If you plan to work from home for a longer period, you’ll need to create a new routine to work productively. The quicker you can get into a routine, the easier it will be to adjust to working at home. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to recreate the same routine that you used at the office. This is your chance to create a routine that will allow you to be as productive as possible. When you are figuring out the routine that works best for you, take these factors into account:
4. Work on your schedule
If your job allows you flexibility in your hours, try working hours that fit with your lifestyle and personal taste. If you’re a morning person, you can put in a couple of hours answering emails or doing busywork very early in the morning and then do other tasks later in the day with a break in between. If you’re more productive at night, write reports or do other creative work late at night when you are going to be the most productive.
5. Focus on personal productivity
Some people are more productive when they recreate the routines of their work place in their home. If that is how you are the most productive, then you should get up at the same time each day, get dressed in your work clothes and keep your routine as close to what you’re used to as possible. But if you struggled to fit into a routine before, take this opportunity to see if a different routine works better for you.
That might mean sleeping later in the morning and starting work later, or wearing more comfortable clothes while you work, or putting your workspace in the kitchen where there is a little bit of hustle and bustle if that makes it easier for you to concentrate. Try new things to figure out what works for you. Be creative and think outside the cubicle to figure out how to be productive working from home.
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