It’s common wisdom you shouldn’t bring your work home with you—but that’s a little problematic when your work is at home. Here, we chat with the experts on how to help your brain distinguish the difference while also boosting your productivity.
Working from home was once a luxury dream we could only ever imagine being our life someday. No commuting, no more hours wasted in meetings that could've easily been an email and perhaps the most appealing - no more wearing bras.
But then came the outbreak of Coronavirus. Suddenly, working from home became a reality. It wasn't long until we realised that working from home wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Back pain, zoom calls, do we need to say anymore? But possibly the most defeating was our lack of productivity.
If you’ve never worked from home before, being away from the office environment – including all your colleagues – can be pretty difficult. After all, your mind associates the office with productivity, so when you’re forced to relocate and work somewhere different, it takes a while for your mind to associate somewhere new with “work mode”. Of course, it’s okay to be less productive than usual at the moment – after all, we are living through the middle of a global pandemic – but it can still be stressful to feel like you’re not putting your best foot forward when it comes to your career.
As lockdown restrictions have lifted across the country, some workers have begun returning to their offices. But the reality for most of us is that returning to the office is a long way away. In fact, several tech companies such as Google and Facebook recently announced that they would continue to allow employees to work from home until 2021. Twitter is offering employees the additional option to work from home permanently if their job allows for it.
With working from home becoming very much the 'new normal' for the vast majority of workers, productivity levels are becoming an evergrowing worry. So what can we do to make ourselves more productive while we’re working from home? On top of making sure we’re taking care of ourselves, minding our mental health, getting a good night’s sleep, there are a few things you can do to boost your productivity. We reached out to Valerie O’Keeffe, CEO of ClarityVP Consulting, who has developed a new service to meet the challenges of working from home. Combining one-to-one mentoring with tailored home office design and installation, their Home Office Design product gives you the space you need — in your head and in your home — to perform at your best.
Below, O'Keeffe shares her advice on making the most of home working.
1. Create Work Triggers
When you are working from the office, the daily routine of getting ready and commuting helps your brain get ready for the day. So, when you are working from home, you can create different tasks that trigger you to get in gear. O'Keeffe believes the first thing to do is not look at your phone – but to get some exercise in – even 20 minutes as this releases the motivational hormone dopamine and also gets you moving, followed by 20 minutes of journaling and planning the day ahead.
2. Make a schedule for the day (and stick to it)
Remote work requires a schedule much like a typical office job, except you are the only one holding yourself accountable. As humans – we like structure. Remote working has meant we have had to create a new type of structure around us and in most cases, it’s been positive. As part of your daily routine, it is also really important to get take regular breaks to refresh yourself, so O'Keeffe suggests scheduling non-work related activities as part of this new structure. "When creating your schedule, take into account the other commitments in your life and find a routine that lets you take care of those as well. If you have a child, build their care into your schedule, like blocking out school pickup and drop-offs."
3. Set up a way to collaborate
Working from home might seem like a solo experience, but it usually still involves interacting with others, whether it is meeting with your team virtually, getting assignments, making decisions, or giving and receiving feedback. So, it is important to set up methods for collaboration while you work remotely. "Collaboration also keeps you connected and supports your motivation," explains O'Keeffe. "It is important we create those all-important networks for business and social types of engagements with our teams and be proactive here if others chose not to be."
4. Make a to-do list
Doing something as simple as making a to-do list can do wonders for keeping you both focused and productive whilst working from home. "As you create your list, think about bigger, longer-term goals, like finishing a project, as well as shorter-term goals," suggests O'Keeffe. "Getting traction in both boosts morale and checking off goals gives you positive reinforcement throughout your day. Work can feel much more achievable when it's broken down and your thoughts are not all consumed by one giant task."
Main image by ClarityVP Consulting