Due to the current (and frankly, crazy) circumstances due from COVID-19, more of us are working from home than ever before.
This can be quite a shock to the system for people who’ve never experienced a home-office environment. Even seasoned home-workers will tell you it can be really tough at times to stay focused, productive, but also to feel happy — as home working can make you feel isolated at times and affect our mental health.
For those of you struggling with your new (albeit forced) home-office environment, don’t worry. I have a list of 7 things you should be doing while working from home, so you stay productive but to also ensure you maintain mental wellness.
#1 Schedule Your Tasks
You need to utilize your time effectively. If you’re not scheduling your working day, you’ll soon hit a brick wall. Time management is crucial to productivity — I’d personally class it as a sweet science. Before starting each day, you should:
- Allocate specific time-slots for certain tasks.
- State each tasks’ priority.
- Include deadlines.
Start with the most important tasks first. Try to stick to the deadlines as much as possible, as missed deadlines will begin to drag on your energy — as there’s even more pressure to get things complete.
#2 Start Early
This one seems simple, but it’s incredibly effective. People who are new to working from home may think that it’s acceptable to roll out of bed just before midday and begin working. Trust me — that would be a big mistake (I’ve been there). You should set your routine, so you start early in the morning — before all messages, calls, and other distractions usually appear.
Having a regular start time of 7 AM or 8 AM works best for most home workers, as we are able to get most tasks completed before lunch, leaving me to review work, complete less important tasks, and take calls in the afternoon.
#3 Eat the Frog
This falls into the category of time management. “Eat the Frog” means you choose the largest, most complex, and energy-demanding task and focus on completing that first. The idea is to utilize your energy on the most difficult tasks first, instead of wasting energy on smaller jobs.
There’s a good psychological reason behind “Eating the Frog”. Think back to when you were at school. When you arrived home with a bunch of homework, you’d probably put it off until late in the evening, choosing to watch TV instead. Putting it off creates a mental pull on your energy — knowing that you had to complete it. And by the time it came to it, you felt exhausted and didn’t want to begin.
It’s the same as working from home. If you leave the biggest tasks ’til last, you’ll feel so tired by the time you come to it that you won’t have enough energy to complete the task to the best of your ability.
#4 Schedule Breaks
Breaks are just as important as hard work, in my opinion. You need to set aside regular breaks to feel refreshed and refocus on your tasks.
You need to schedule:
- Regular lunch and dinner breaks.
- 5 minute breaks every hour to look away from your computer screen and quickly get fresh air.
- 15 minute breaks every 4 hours.
This point is essential for everyone — but especially for workaholics. It’s all too easy for people to work continually at their home desk all day and not take a proper break.
#5 Limit Distractions
This can be tough. Especially if you have a family with young kids. But you must do your best to limit all forms of distraction, including social media, personal calls, and messages, online videos, etc.
You can easily limit distractions by:
- Downloading a website blocker.
- Switching your cellphone off or leave it out of reach (unless absolutely necessary).
- Keeping your TV off.
Website and app blockers, such as StayFocusd, are a great way to ensure you stay productive and not to begin endlessly scrolling through your social media feed.
#6 Work in Teams Using Video Calls
Many people are more productive when working in teams. If this is you, you should schedule regular online meetups with your colleagues. Some of the best tools for group video calls include:
- Google Hangouts.
When scheduling the video call, it’s best to create a precise itinerary to ensure everyone stays on-task.
#7 Music or Not?
As a passionate music-lover (like most people with a pulse), it can be tricky to decide whether you should play music while working. My opinion is that music is fine while working. There’s research that shows how music can significantly boost our creativity and focus. But try to limit songs with lots of words — especially if you’re focusing on writing tasks. In my experience, the best types of music to listen to while working include:
- Lofi Hip-Hop instrumentals.
- Minimal techno.
Music is a personal thing, so you can choose what style works best for you, as long as it’s mostly instrumental based. Search for studying playlists on YouTube and other streaming services and find what works best for you.
Master the Art of Working From Home
This article is being written at an incredibly difficult time for the world. Thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic a massive number of people are being forced to work from home for safety and health reasons. For many, working from home can be extremely difficult — especially if they’re not used to it. Scheduling your time, taking regular breaks, tackling the biggest tasks first, and limiting your distractions is crucial when you’re working from home. Planning online calls with your colleagues is a fantastic way of staying connected to your team and reducing feelings of isolation.
By following the suggestions on this list, you’ll be able to maintain productivity while working from home, avoid burning out, and feel connected to your team.
To learn more about working from home and how to improve your life as an entrepreneur, check the posts on the Intentionally Inspirational blog.
Written by Lewis James