Are you suddenly working from home amid coronavirus precautions and not quite sure how to get stuff done? Many of us on the MamaSezz team have been working at least partially remote for years so we've gathered some of our top tips for being productive while working from home during this unprecedented time.
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As companies nationwide work to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Americans are not only spending more time at home, but working from there, too. Struggling to be an efficient worker during social distancing? Here are our top tips to make working from home more productive.
While it may be tempting to stay in your PJs now that you’re working from home, getting dressed for the day is one small thing you can do to help smooth the transition into work mode. Wearing real clothes will boost your confidence and productivity. You don’t have to don business casual to feel productive -- just a clean shirt and a fresh pair of real pants (i.e. not sweats) will do. Also, brush your hair (and your teeth!)
While it may be tempting to set up shop on the couch, or even in bed, you’ll be a lot more productive if you have a designated workspace set up, even if it’s a temporary one. You don’t need a fancy desk, or even your own room, just a designated corner that is yours for getting work done. I’ve set up workspaces on my kitchen table, on a card table in the basement, on my front porch. I recommend making sure that your workspace space is as clutter-free as you can make it (clutter can decrease productivity, and if you’re like me, drive you insane).
Headphones will help you tune out whatever else is going on in your house. This is especially important if you have family or a roommate sharing your living quarters and you don’t have a designated room to make your home office.
If you have some wiggle room in your schedule, reconsider 9-5 work hours, especially if you have kids at home. The best thing you can do for your productivity and your sanity is to figure out when you can be the most productive in this current and temporary situation. Maybe it’s your child’s nap time, maybe it’s early in the morning, maybe it’s after dinner.
Once you’ve figured out what time of day is best for your productivity, set up your routine around that. This is especially important if you have kids at home with you as routines help set expectations for everyone in the family.
Speaking of your schedule, consider breaking up your work time, if you can. Not only is it good for your eyes and body to take a rest from sitting and staring at your computer, but taking breaks makes you more productive and creative. Get up and stretch. Toss in a load of laundry. Play with your kids. Meditate or do one of these at-home workouts. Anything to help you recharge.
And don’t forget to go outside if you can while you’re on a break. With social distancing making us all feel cooped up, getting some fresh air and vitamin D can do wonders for your mental health. Just a walk around the block can help your attitude and boost creativity.
If your home situation is a little chaotic (like if you have kids!), communication is the name of the game. Communicate with your kids, if age appropriate, so they know when it’s time for you to work, communicate with your spouse so you can come up with schedules that work for you both, communicate with your roommates, communicate with your boss and coworkers to set expectations. Worried about talking to your boss about needing flexibility? We hear you. Just know these are unprecedented times and you’re likely not the only person at your company working through the growing pains of trying to get work done from home amid a pandemic. Do what you can and give yourself (and your coworkers!) grace when things don’t go as smoothly as they would’ve in the office.
Feeling isolated? Remember to use video conferencing to your advantage. Schedule Zoom meetings or hop on a Google Hangout instead of calling coworkers. At MamaSezz we almost always do Zoom meetings when we’re working remotely -- during coronavirus precautions and otherwise. Why? It’s nice to see a familiar face, it makes the meeting feel more personal, and it lets you more effectively communicate because you can still read the facial cues that you would normally see in person.
When you’re home is your office it can be hard to differentiate between your free time and your work time -- unless you set boundaries! Just like you set “work hours,” establish a routine that signals to you and your household that work time is over -- whether it’s a family walk around the block, cooking dinner together, picking out a movie on Netflix, listening to a certain podcast.
Don’t check the news during business hours. Working from home can be distracting already and the 24 hours news cycle certainly doesn’t help matters. Throw a pandemic into the mix and it’s easy to get sucked in. Worried you’ll miss important COVID-19 updates for your area? Set aside a 15-minute time period each day, before or after work times, where you can check in on things and ease your mind, without overloading.
- Get dressed
- Have a designated workspace
- Wear headphones
- Figure out your most productive time
- Stick to a schedule (or routine)
- Work in small clumps of time instead of 8 hours straight
- Get outside
- Take video calls
- Unplug from work mode at the end of the day
- BONUS: don’t constantly check the news
By Ali Brown
Ali is a mom, wife, and nutrition and lifestyle writer and editor. She has her Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.