This article first appeared on Women Love Tech, by Michelle Broadbent.
Just weeks into our new normal and novelty of wearing PJs all day and snooping around our co-workers’ homes on Zoom calls have begun to wear off. The reality is that working from home will be our way of life for a while yet. But with no one to hold us accountable, it can be hard to summon the motivation to be productive without our manager physically breathing down our neck.
I have been working from home for almost four years now – though the last few weeks have been particularly challenging with two small co-workers sharing my workspace!
Here are my tips for tricking yourself into becoming a productivity machine:
Prepare and plan for the day ahead – some days are good, some days go to hell but starting with a plan of how I would like the day to run gives me something to aim for. I admit my plans these days are looser than they were BC19 but my process remains the same:
- Firstly, schedule in all the set tasks across all aspects of life – this includes meetings, meal times, exercise, kids stuff, etc.
- Then schedule your To-Do List – everyone has a To-Do list but most people don’t allocate a set time to complete each task. This is a sure-fire way to ensure that the tasks get completed. Start with your most important tasks and schedule them in first, creating efficiencies by batching similar tasks together.
- Be realistic about the time that you have and the time that it takes to actually do a task. With new distractions such as homeschooled children, do not schedule every minute of your day. Be sure to leave white space for life to get in the way otherwise, you will not achieve as much as you hoped and end your day feeling frustrated.
Dress for success
The temptation to work from bed is real but the best way to start your day right is to get up, have a shower and get dressed for the day. The more casually dressed I am, the less productive I feel so I dress in a modified version of work clothes, put on makeup and do my hair. Being “put-together” ensures you can show up to any last-minute Zoom meetings instead of running around the house trying to find a clean bra while your colleagues wait for you to show up.
Insert a commute
It could be a quick walk around the block or down to the local cafe to pick up your coffee. It could be as short as going outside to hang out the washing but when you re-enter the house you are saying to yourself and your family that your workday has commenced.
Use different zones of your home for different tasks
If you are doing computer-based work, it is best to sit or stand at a desk but other tasks can be done in different parts of the house to mix things up a bit (as you would in a regular office). Go outside in the fresh air to take phone calls, sit on the lounge to read reports. Just be mindful of what is going on in the background if you are on a Zoom call… no one needs to see your partner walk through to the bathroom in his boxers!
To optimise our brain function, we can not sit chained to our desk all day – we need to move our bodies. With no meetings to physically go to, no kitchen or water cooler conversation or lunchtime gym session, we need to incorporate incidental movement into our day. Have micro-breaks at regular intervals and move your body. Need some inspo, check out Lizzy Williamson’s Two Minute Moves
Put an end to your day
The danger of working at home (besides the contents of your fridge and pantry!) is that your work is always with you. To avoid the temptation of continuing to work well into the night, implement a hard stop time. Mark this by doing something non-work related – exercise, phone a friend, have a shower. This transition activity helps put you in the right headspace for the fun part of the day.
Don’t feel like you have to implement all of these strategies today – take one small action and you will, at the very least, feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of your day. Good luck!