While working from home, you have enough flexibility to do your job. But this luxury can often turn into a missed opportunity, if not planned accordingly. Keeping that in mind, we bring you some basic work from home tips which you can easily follow at home.
They say work from home can be your litmus paper to your productivity. Also, many would argue over the fact that it needs intrinsic motivation to perform your tasks efficiently and deliver at the right time when you are working from home.
But this is not necessarily true. You do not lose productivity because of that, but not getting your basics right.
When you work from home, you are less likely to step out of your home and go through a typical adult routine. Furthermore, distractions are present in every step.
You must get your basics right in order to follow a well-organized routine and avoid compulsions.
Here are the 14 tips that will help you get going when you are working from home.
1. Get Ready for Your Work Day
What is your favorite outfit when working remotely?
Pajamas, is it? Of course, it should be, as you get to be in your comfort zone.
Dressing up is something that people do not bother about while working from home.
But that’s not how it should be. You must get ready for your work as you usually do.
Yes, you heard that right. Get out of your sleepwear.
Casual dress or pajamas are great, and they give you comfort and a sense of freedom. But donning sweatpants may not help you to stay productive if you wear it for 48 hours straight.
It is not necessary to dress as formally as you might, for work, but a mere act of changing clothes will give you a signal to wake up and get work done.
Our brains are programmed in a way that it takes cues from our social and personal outlook while making a decision. When you dress up for your work, you give the brain a reason for doing it. It’s like a real alarm that can keep you alert throughout the day.
Getting dressed includes all the appearance-based tasks — taking shower, doing your hair and minimal makeup. These factors make you look presentable.
Besides, working from home does not certainly mean that people cannot see you. You might be asked to show up for video meetings which are very common these days.
You are all set!!
2. Choose a Proper Home office
What is the best thing about working from home? Most probably, the level of comfort.
But, do you know that this comfort can come at the cost of lost productivity, focus and target goals?
As much as home working is a convenience for many as they can coop up in their bed or couch, it becomes really difficult to resist the temptation of sleep with our not-so-healthy sleep routine.
That way, you can either give in to your lethargy - which is extremely demotivating - or decide to come out of the enticement of your typical home setting. The latter is always better and more productive.
You might sit at any place, start working on your task list, and all of a sudden, a movie or an ad plays on TV. What is your instant reaction?
You turn around and take a glimpse, thus creating a distraction. It is likely possible to happen every now and then if you choose a random spot to work. Distractions will flow in from every way.
Therefore, having a particular space all to yourself will absolutely do a great deal.
When the surrounding gives you work vibes, your attention is bound to swoop in along with your efficiency. To achieve that, all you have to do is-
- Choose a corner of your room with good natural lighting, if possible
- Set it up with a chair comfortable to sit on, for around 8 hours a day
- Place a desk next to it
- Put your system on the placed desk
- Keep your required materials like a diary, pens, a bottle of water & a lamp, right by the side
A dedicated workspace will enable you to keep yourself oriented to your work by providing an office-esque environment.
Because in the end, concentration is the key to effective outcomes.
3. Install Quality Technology
Working remotely can have its pros and cons.
As much as we love working at our own pace, a poor internet connection or an outdated system can get frustrating.
What happens when you are attending an important meeting over a face-time app and lose your internet connection? Or your voice is not clear enough for people to understand due to poor network issues?
You feel embarrassed and can miss out on a major discussion, right?
In such a state, installing a competent wi-fi router will surely do the trick.
Good internet connectivity is the ultimate tool for remote workers. However, in order to acquire an affordable network, it’s better to do proper research on the specifications, speed and price before making a decision.
The rules are pretty simple.
- Do thorough research on all plans provided by the internet providers
- Look them up on various e-commerce sites
- Study the requirements
- Get recommendations from friends and fellow users
- Go through with the purchase
The same applies to a good working system which is a prerequisite to improve your working capacity. If your machine breaks off and starts disrupting your work every now and then, it can break the momentum.
Thus, not having a fine working device poses a big challenge to the smooth functioning of your work.
- Invest in an affordable device from a genuine brand of technology with good features
- Make sure it possesses the latest version of the processor and operating system
- Keep it with utmost care
See? It’s not that tough now, is it? Just a minute study on the quality of the technology that you use at home.
Quality is the pride of workmanship. ~W. Edwards Deming
4. Maintain consistent Working Hours
How often do you lose the track of time while working from home? Almost everyday, right?
When your mind is completely onto work, it is quite possible for you to be unaware of the amount of time that has passed.
This is an unhealthy practice. Being a workaholic is good but within the working hours. You need not overdo it.
A general work-life balance is a very important factor when working from home. Your personal life is just as important as your professional life.
You should always make a routine of your workdays and working hours. It has to be prepared in a way that you can follow it with ease.
If you plan on working for 8 hours straight on a workday, from 10 am to 6 pm, make sure you stick to your schedule.
You might have days where you need to finish a pile of work; in case of which, you can either resort to communicating with your manager for an extension or you can extend your work time for that particular day as one day can be considered.
But doing this on a daily basis can be harmful as working over-time can stress you out, both physically and mentally.
If you do not follow an organized timetable for work, you are going to miss out on your social life too.
Like they say,”All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”- do not let yourself become a Jack. Working tirelessly everyday past your work hours, to meet your goals and depriving yourself of spending time with friends and family is detrimental.
It’s the simplest rule, yet the toughest to follow.
- Set your alarm for the time one hour prior to your office hour
- Freshen up and do the needful before settling in your work space
- Before going ahead with work, set the timer for the end of your work time
- Perform your tasks with full dedication
- Shut your laptop down, as soon as the timer kicks in
- Move away from your workplace and call it a day
Wrap it up at the correct hour!
5. Eat & Sleep right
One of the perks of working from home is free access to the kitchen. As soon as it is time for breaks, you gravitate towards it to grab some snacks.
This practice does not benefit you, in any way.
Being on a healthy diet is very essential when you are a working person. Therefore, you must eat food that helps you function better instead of draining your energy.
Those extra burgers will not help you much in your proficiency.
At the office, you have access to whatever food is available in the cafeteria or the lunch you brought from home. You are restricted, but at home you are on your own.
As a result, you should keep yourself in check and be on a good diet.
- Eat energizing meals for lunch- iron (leafy green vegetables), protein (fish, meat, eggs) and complex carbohydrates (legumes & whole grains)
- Include fruits, nuts & berries together with some juice in your diet
- Drink a lot of water
Eat healthy everyday even if you are working from office, but in your limited capacity. Because, over eating might lead to sluggishness.
One of the most crucial activities which go unnoticed while working from home is your sleep pattern. It might take a toss when you work from home.
Your sleep time often gets compromised between work and binge-watching.
But maintaining a proper sleep schedule is imperative if you aim to deliver best results. It keeps your head clear.
Save your binge-watching plans for the weekend. And get started with your healthy routine.
- Go to bed in a definite time
- Try to get a minimum of 6 hours of sleep
- Follow it everyday until it becomes a habit
Additionally, when you are working from home, you might try to get some extra sleep. But it doesn’t add much. Resist the temptation to oversleep and start your day early.
When your work-life is demanding, it keeps you awake at odd hours, even when you are working from home. Try to take short naps if that is the case.
So, all you need is the right food to keep your energy high, and good sleep to rejuvenate your body and mind.
Sufficient sleep, exercise, healthy food, friendship, and peace of mind are necessities, not luxuries. ~Mark Halperin
6. Set a Morning & Evening Routine
Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit – the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being. ~Greg Anderson
If you are a night person who is fond of binge-watching everyday, it surely becomes highly exhausting for you to wake up early for work. Sleeping for less than 6 hours can make you feel bizarre and irritated.
A cup of tea/coffee ought to cheer up your mood for some time but it is not enough.
Sleep deprivation leads to a loss of concentration.
So, what is it that will help you solve this?
Working on your sleep schedule, of course, that’s the first. A night of good and sound sleep is your utmost need.
However, it is not a piece of cake. Pulling an all-nighter is very refreshing for many, these days.
In consideration of that, you have to put the next best alternative to use- Meditation.
Yoga and meditation in the early morning have always proved to be constructive. It strengthens focus, improves self-awareness and reduces stress levels.
This is what the situation demands.
- Wake up one hour prior to your working hour
- Freshen up
- Have some tea/coffee
- Lay a mat on the floor
- Sit on it and fold your legs
- Keep your backbone straight
- Close your eyes
- Meditate for 5-10 minutes
Tada! It's done. Now you can kickstart your day off with a clear mind.
Likewise, meditation is a wonderful thing to end your day with. After a long day of work, both your body and mind are tired. You crave for some relief at the moment.
Excessive work often leads your mind to close down. It even makes you anxious.
In that case, the only thing you need to shut down, is your working device. Once it is past your work hour, you should put your system away immediately.
The next step is to reduce your distress caused during work. Meditation can also assist you with this.
The clock strikes 6 pm- assuming that is when you get off work. And it is a time-out!
- Be clear of your work desk
- Drink some water
- Wash your face
- Sit on the yoga mat
- Meditate for 5 minutes
And you are good to go!
7. Prepare a To-do list/Planner
You are surely familiar with the term To-do list. What is it exactly?
It is nothing but an index of tasks to be finished on the following day, organized in order of priority. A planner is more or less the same thing.
Both are two sides of the same coin.
Working remotely recommends you to keep track of how you spend every hour of your day. Self-tracking lets you understand when you are more productive and also, where you are wasting your precious time.
Creating a to-do list would allow you to keep track of your progress efficiently. You can then choose to do the more critical tasks in your precise productive hours.
You can design the list as per your preference. The critical task is to be treated as the highest priority and should be worked on, at the earliest.
And designate the highest amount of time to the most difficult one.
While you construct your list, think about long-term goals- finishing a big project, as well as short-term goals- the tasks which lead to that big goal. As you are completing one goal after another, check them off the list indicating that you are making progress.
This keeps your focus intact, thereby improving your knowledge and makes the work seem doable. And you look forward to accomplishing the rest of the duties.
Similarly, a planner or a calendar is an accountability tool- to keep track of meetings, deadlines and appointments. This way, you do not have to devote headspace to constantly remembering your office chores.
All this information would be in the record of a planner. It reminds you about which task is to be delivered on which date and schedule of your meetings & appointments.
The planner can also take your availability into account. It should include your other commitments too so that you are able to work accordingly and your colleagues & family members know when you are available for their work.
Be it work or non-work activities, a to-do list and a planner are essential for positive reinforcement.
- Write or type in your To-do list & a planner/calendar because remembering so much can give you a severe headache
- Create it systematically so that it is easily understandable
- Share the planner with your co-workers to notify them of the time you have blocked out on the calendar for official work
Remote work demands you to hold yourself accountable for every minute piece of work you are assigned and prioritizing & scheduling your work can give you the best results.
8. Exercise regularly
One way to increase your performance at work is to be proactive. And regular exercise can help you be that.
Adopting the habit of doing exercise is beneficial for both your personal and professional life. You increase blood flow to the brain while you workout, which further helps to sharpen your mind and keep you alert.
The whole concept of work from home has given rise to social isolation which has affected mental health of people to a great extent. In such a case, staying fit should be considered as a topmost-priority.
Exercise heightens your endorphin levels which boosts your happiness, enjoyment and interest levels- all of which are important for producing good results at work & life.
Maintaining a great posture is an added necessity which comes from stretching regularly.
Try to take some time out and exercise, even if it is for 15 minutes. Move your muscles or go for a long walk, whatever sounds feasible for you.
Begin your day with an exercise, in a non-chaotic environment. It prepares you to take on the challenges throughout the day.
But making it into a habit would give you immense benefits that you would be grateful for in the future. You would start seeing the difference it makes.
- Wake up early in the morning
- Choose a proper wide spot so that it’s not congested
- Exercise for 15 minutes
- Repeat the same routine on the next day and increase the time duration
Generally, when you work from home, you might not get the motivation to exercise daily.
What you need is a push from yourself for your physical wellbeing.
9. Take a few Breaks
When you are in office, it is really common to yearn for breaks for your mind to relax. But at home, the structure is different.
You are more of working in a break situation, yet you are not taking breaks. This means a home is a place we go to, after work.
But when you start operating from home, it becomes messy.
Your work-time can get tangled with your breaks. This is why you should set precise time for breaks.
Do not drain your brain muscle by constantly sitting in one place for work. The stress can get hold of you anywhere.
Just move around and keep yourself active throughout the day.
Take breaks at definite intervals, walk around, play with your pet or maybe listen to some music. It is purely scientific, your prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) needs breaks to avoid decision fatigue and maximize production capacity along with amplifying your creativity.
You may also take short naps or do breathing exercises to be more mindful and efficient throughout the day.
- Add a proper break-time schedule to your planner
- Specify how much time duration is assigned to each break
- When the clock strikes the specified time, stop with your work instantly
You can launch a timer on your device’s screen in a way that would lock you out of your computer during breaks.
10. Take a stroll during lunch break
When you are working full time from home, it can be really exasperating for your mind to keep your attention in one place.
In-office, you get tea breaks, lunch breaks and your colleagues to have small talks with. But the home office life is totally different.
You work alone and try to focus on your goals for the day and there is no certain planned break. If you are a workaholic and your workload is high, you tend to put all your efforts into the work.
Doing so, you may, at times, skip lunch and short breaks. Faced with such a situation, instead of missing out on meals, you ought to get some air and calm down.
On any other normal day, the best suggestion would be to go out or take your pet for a walk. However, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, that would not be very wise.
What you can do, in place of that, is take a stroll in the lawn, home campus or your terrace.
You are free to go outside, provided you take the required safety measures, maintain social distancing and avoid crowds. All you need is your body to move, in order to prevent laziness.
A fresh mind can help you become active and productive.
Lunch breaks can come in handy when you have no purpose to go out. You can put those one-hour long breaks to some use by running some errands for the house.
Ask your mother if she needs groceries or look around and check for yourself if you are short of something.
For a doctor’s appointment or any other casual meet too, always make use of those lunch breaks. That way you get a good reason to head out without hampering your work.
The natural light and fresh air outside are refreshing- something we all call for, amid a hectic work schedule. Besides, your family members would also want you to take a break and not be grumpy and stress out.
- Walk away from your workspace
- Put on some casual wear
- Grab the essentials (mask, sanitizer, gloves, etc.)
- Head out
It is as simple as it sounds.
11. Make Ground Rules for Family Members
Remote working is easily misunderstood by people, especially those who are not really used to it. Today’s generation has clarity about the entire notion of work from home because they have either experienced it themselves or witnessed someone else.
On the contrary, the older generation is not that familiar with this idea. To your parents, work from home is more of a work without any strict routine.
Due to which, they do not really understand the gravity of it. Therefore, it is your responsibility to make them understand how it will work.
There might be days where you do not have much work and you would just come out of your room to feed your pet or help your mother chop vegetables for lunch. That should not send signals to the people in your vicinity that you are available everyday to do other household chores.
Suppose you are attending an online meeting and your mother barges in, all of a sudden, to tell you something. Your mind is distracted, even if you don’t want it to be.
Or what if you have younger siblings coming from school during your work hours? How do you work while being in a chaotic environment? You cannot, right?
Ergo! You need to set some rules with them.
Have an open conversation with your family members and explain the expectations of the work from home culture. Set clear rules for the kids telling them what they should do and what not.
Once they acknowledge this, you would be set on your way. Otherwise, it can often lead to various hurdles in your professional life.
Here how it goes,
- Ask your elders to join you for a small chat
- Tell them about how you are planning to work from home
- Mention your estimated work hours and how you should not be bothered during that period of time
- Hand the responsibility of controlling the kids, if any, to the elders
This would definitely work!!
12. Leverage Social Media
Social media not only snatches your time, but also teaches you about attention deficiency. ~Neeraj Agnihotri
Admit it or not, there is one common thing all of us can consider as our guilty pleasure- Social media.
What is the first thing you do after waking up in the morning?
Even before you know it, you would find yourself turning your data on and logging on to one of those apps- Facebook & Instagram being two of the most widely used worldwide.
By the same token, your last activity for the night also involves you looking up various posts and updates on social media.
Be it interaction with friends, commenting, or reading news and articles, social media can be highly addictive and time-consuming, if not handled with care.
It is regarded as one of the top-level distractions from work.
Telecommuting is already accompanied by lots of distractions and you do not need further addition. Overall, if we see proper stats, we would observe that people spend more time on social media than on any other activity.
In between work, if you cannot help but check your cell phone every time a new notification pops up, a moment of interruption appears.
What can you possibly do to prevent this!!?
You either bring self-restraint, which is not easily attained or detect an alternative means to achieve this.
To get rid of such distractions, many new mobile apps have been introduced in recent times. These applications reveal to users the quantity of time they spend on each social media app.
Furthermore, some apps also help you set a fixed duration for each of the socializing apps and once your limited time usage is over, you are locked out from that app for the next 24hours.
So you decide to assign 30 minutes to Instagram. Whilst you are using that app for less than the mentioned time, you are cool. The moment it is 30m:01s, Instagram automatically shuts you out until the next day.
If you exhaust your time-limit at night itself, those apps would be disabled for you to use them in the daytime. Hence, It is the most feasible solution.
- Install the time-revealing & time-setting apps
- Observe how much time you spend on each social media app
- Decide on a specific amount of time you want to dedicate to each app, in a day
- Develop some self-control and log into those apps only during breaks or post-work schedules
In short, social media can be rendered as a boon and a curse.
13. Interact with the Team
Having work-life merged with your home life can get pretty confusing. At the office, you are surrounded by people who are working in a similar setting as yours.
While at home, it is just the opposite.
Teleworking can get pretty lonely, especially if you are in isolation. Even in the presence of your family members, it is no better as there is no interrelation of your work with them.
In a home setting, everyone works differently, from your teammates to your managers. Therefore, sharing information and getting everyone on the same page is often difficult.
You all might have different work schedules, and it might give rise to some bumps on the road. Under such circumstances, communication is the cue to steering through these bumps.
You need to talk it out with your manager about how the system operates- how often you are supposed to check-in or convey your messages and progress to one another.
This rule applies to every other colleague of yours. Lack of communication can make you feel disconnected.
You ought to figure out how much interaction is required for you to feel connected.
Act accordingly. Do not hesitate to turn to your co-workers for any kind of favor.
The good part is that several tools are created to take care of this problem. There are several chat channels and FaceTime applications which enable you to connect to your teammates, conduct group meetings and stay updated.
It is, however, not mandatory that you have to talk about work all the time. A normal chit chat is fine as long as it breaks the social isolation one suffers while working from home.
Video call is a great way to stay connected and to have some fun at the same time.
If you are an introvert and are not fond of socialising, take part in a few interactive sessions to be familiar with the team. This helps you to avoid any kind of awkwardness that may initiate among the teammates in the future when you start going to office.
You have to be more proactive about nurturing professional relationships.
Few of the video chat applications available today are-
- Google Hangouts
- Google Duo
- Microsoft Teams
Also, Zoom’s screen-sharing feature can help everyone be on the same page, give feedback, and share ideas.
Once you are well-equipped with one of these apps, you could end up spending half of your day on video conferencing with your team. Make sure you are in a well-lit room as these would enhance the quality of your chat sessions.
14. Create a Stress-free Zone
What does it feel like to work from home?
As you know it, working in an office can get pretty wearing. But it would be wrong to assume that working at home is not, for it is not a cakewalk either.
It takes serious concentration to work a full-time job from an unconventional space. Your attention can drift apart, all the time.
You might start having some irrelevant thoughts, out of the blue. However, this is not something to worry about. Cut yourself some slack. It is absolutely okay to take your mind off work for a few minutes, intentionally or not.
You need not beat yourself up for that.
Oftentimes, it is seen that when people go into full-on work mode, eventually they get absorbed in their work in a way that they lose touch with the outside world.
Being hardworking is one thing and stressing out is completely another.
Be it for meeting deadlines or finishing the piled work, the main mantra is taking it easy. Stressing out can pose a mild threat to both your mind and body. Your thinking capacity is slowed down because your brain cannot process properly, in stress & anxiety.
Balance your efficiency with self-care- if you are not mentally well, you cannot give your best. There might be a lot of work to do in a short schedule or maybe some previous work is left undone.
For this, you have to know how to manage your time and set achievable targets**. Do not take on responsibilities if you cannot accomplish them in the stipulated time.
Adding too much on the plate can make things hard. All you require is to-
- Create a task list for the day
- Estimate the required time to finish each task
- Take a tea/coffee break in between to stimulate your mind
- Work until the end of your working hour
- Make a note of the tasks that are yet to be completed
So Relax & Chill!
To all, who are working remotely, we hope the above tips really help you boost your productivity. Also, do mention the tips and ideas that motivate you to keep going, in the comment section below.