Yay! We all get to work from home. But it’s not summer, and it’s not the regular WFH Fridays that most cool companies give their employees. This is, well, how things are right now. You now have to figure out how to remain productive since your office is now your house/apartment, and it’s not just one day, it’s a bunch of them. Or, lucky you, your new job!
It takes time to get used to working from “not an office” and being able to finish and deliver on all the things you still have to complete. There are some things that you must do to keep up productivity and protect your sanity.
1. Get out of Bed… That Also Means Not Relocating to the Couch
Yes, it was fun the first few times to just hang out and have a casual Friday because most of the work is done and everyone else is taking off early for their long weekend. That’s not what we’re doing now. So, your mindset must change.
2. Get Dressed. It Doesn’t Have to Be Formal, but Pants and a Shirt Are Helpful.
Do you know what’s embarrassing? Forgetting that your camera is on as your web conference is starting and having a large group of people seeing you A – with your shirt off and B- in your really messy bed. It leaves a bad impression. Besides, if you stay in your PJs, you’ll likely feel really lazy in a few hours.
3. Set up a Comfortable Workstation That Doesn’t Involve Your Bed
Typing on a laptop is kind of crappy. Especially if you are going to be away from a regular office desk for an extended period of time. Do you know how to fix that? Sit at a table and get a wireless keyboard.
From personal experience, I strongly recommend the keyboard. It makes life easier. Also, just being in the right position to work on a computer will keep you functional longer.
4. Don’t Forget to Take Breaks or More Specifically, Don’t Forget to Work Real Hours
Yes, you have things to get done. Yes, they will take some time to complete. That does not mean do it all at once. Give yourself regular hours. Like the ones you’d keep if you were going to an office. You just have a little more time now that your commute time is out of the mix. Take a lunch break. Take a walk. Do something that is not just sitting in your home working non-stop. You will quickly find that you have cabin fever and be very unhappy with the whole WFH situation if you have no balance.
On the flip side, let’s talk about actually doing work….
Do your work. You’re still employed, and you still have deadlines, so keep moving forward with the projects you have and meeting those deadlines.
5. Use Online Tools to Facilitate Regular, Productive Conversations… or Conversations in General
You don’t always need to be face-to-face to accomplish something or solve a blocker issue. Likely, your company uses communication tools like Slack, Teams, Hangouts, etc. Those tools can be used to have one-off conversations that would normally be done in person.
Sometimes you need to talk to someone to get work done and sometimes you just need to talk to someone because it helps you feel less isolated. Both are good reasons to reach out, and both can help you be productive.
6. Your Calendar Is Your Friend, Use It Wisely and Use It Well.
Most people live off their calendars for work and personal lives. That calendar can also help you manage your WFH days. Be especially aware of the time that is not in meetings. It’s in this time between meetings that you need to accomplish tasks. Schedule them. Most of your colleagues (I say that with the most sincerity) will honor your schedule. That means you can schedule in time to work on the work for today. And use that moving forward. Give yourself the time to be productive.
Don’t waste your day. Be mindful of your time and that of others. Don’t completely shift your schedule because you forgot how to be a human during daylight hours. Get up early enough in the morning to give yourself time to do all your morning things before you sit-down (fully clothed) and start working. Then follow your schedule and end your day at the times you normally would.
7. Set Boundaries!
Most importantly, set boundaries for your co-workers and for yourself. It is easy to fall into very unsustainable habits when you WFH. If you make it clear when you are working and can accomplish what you need to get done, you’ll feel very productive and normal (whatever that is for you). Then go outside. It’s nice out sometimes. Stop buying toilet paper. You’re going back to an office eventually
8. Lastly, Snacks Aren’t Your Friend! Don’t Fool Yourself
Maybe the hardest part of getting past day-one of WFH, especially if you just went grocery shopping, is the urge to take snack breaks. It’s kind of like all the free snacks in cool tech company offices, but you paid for these. Keep in mind, you need them to last through a week or two. Resist the urge, launch into a project. Once you’re focused on your tasks at hand, you’ll likely forget about your snacks.
Use this as your measuring stick: If your snacks are still around by the weekend, you’ve likely actually gotten some work done. HIGH FIVE! You’ve successfully adapted to working from home.