You’ve envied the digital nomads traveling the world, living that #vanlife, and setting up shop wherever their laptop is. Now’s your chance. You get a taste of working in your own home office. And working from home can be wonderful, convenient, even luxurious . . . until your home life comes crashing in on your “office.” Screaming toddlers, noisy neighbors, overextended Wi-Fi—all of these can ruin your productivity at home.
For those of you suddenly longing for the seclusion and privacy of your cubicle, here are some tips on how to maximize your productivity from your new home office.
Select your new spot.
Don’t give in to the temptation of home comforts: Working from your bed may seem like a convenient cheat, but don’t be seduced by the coziness of your sleep space. Set aside an area away from distractions (family included), buy a desk if space permits, and declare your new corner your own work oasis.
“Mess” is a four-letter word.
Messes of any kind distract you from what you should be focusing on. Keep your area as tidy as possible with file organizers and wipe your desk surface to ensure your workspace is decluttered and sanitary. Less mess = more focus.
Posture is key.
High-class conference rooms don’t have futons, bean bag chairs, or couches. Sofas and beds are for lounging and bingeing Netflix. Filing reports, discussing budgets, and interfacing with clients calls for a higher class of furniture. Find seating that will keep your posture in check, thereby enhancing blood flow, improving breathing, and reducing lower back pain.
Just another workday.
A lot has changed now that you’re working from home. But your workday can—and should—still have the same structure and schedule. Treat it just like any other workday, sans the commute. “Clock in” at the same time you always do. Plan out your daily tasks in the morning to give your schedule the structure you need to stay focused. Most importantly, step away. According to research scientist Jennifer Deal, “Taking breaks from work is important for recovery—and adequate recovery is critical for top performance.” So take 10-minute breaks to stretch, grab some water, and recharge before diving back in.
Boundaries are crucial.
You love them, but your family is not welcome in your workplace. Communicate your schedule with your family and/or roommates to set clear boundaries and avoid distractions.
Control your digital space.
Ok, you’ve got your corner of your home cordoned off for work. The kids are in another room playing quietly. Your desk is tidy and clean. Now what? Surely you deserve a quick 30 seconds to scroll through Twitter, right?
Wrong! This is your workspace; you need to eliminate ALL distractions. That includes what’s on your phone and/or laptop. Hide or delete your social media apps; relegate that kind of personal time for your lunch hour.
Aside from removing the problematic apps from your digital space, there are many tools you can add to your workflow to improve your productivity. Video conference calls on Zoom and chatting over Google Hangouts or Slack are just a few options a step above traditional phone calls and emails.
Come home from . . . home.
Part of why you sectioned off part of your living space for work in the first place was to maintain that distinction between work life and home life. When you clock out, exit all work accounts, turn off your laptop, and “come home.” Work will be waiting for you in the morning.
Working from home can be liberating if you have the discipline to create a productive workspace no matter where you are. Give these tips a try and remember to work hard AND play hard. Stay safe out there and wash your hands.