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Working in a regular office wasn’t exactly ideal, admittedly. There’d be distractions from your coworkers, lengthy commutes, and a level of oversight that could easily get annoying. But it was practical in a way that working remotely often isn’t. You’d have a dedicated working area, access to relevant resources, and an easy delineation between work and free time.
But most of us don’t get to choose at this point. Due to COVID-19, remote working has become the standard throughout much of the world, and plenty of people who’ve been working from their homes for much of this year will continue to work remotely on an indefinite basis. After all, who knows when it’ll be completely safe to reopen conventional offices?
So if you’re stuck working from home, you need to figure out how to make it work as your permanent arrangement — and how you can get your productivity up to the level you reached in the office, because expectations will start to creep up as the global situation improves. Here are five tips for helping you get more done from your home office:
Assemble an actual home office
For some people, the words can only be placed in quote marks: their “home offices” are just areas of their homes where they tend to perch their laptops and try to get things done. Maybe you fall into that camp, and you’re used to working from your couch. Well, that might sound like a fun notion — lie back and relax as you work! — but it’s a practical disaster.
To get things done, you need an actual home office, or as close as you can get to one. If you have a spare room (or a shed), add a desk and make that your office space. If you don’t, use a divider to make a room corner feel somewhat distinct, and set up everything from a proper desktop monitor to a full-size keyboard. This will help you work so much faster.
Choose good task management apps to lean on
You surely relied on digital tools before you started working remotely, but your options may have been more limited due to the preferences of your employer — perhaps you simply got to use whatever they told you to use. Well, working remotely means having more freedom, and you can draw upon that freedom to improve how you operate.
Think about everything that goes into your daily routine. How do you handle your workload, tracking what you need to get done? That’s what task management is all about — the best task management apps on the market make it vastly simpler to get your responsibilities under control. (If you’re curious, GetBusy’s list of apps is worth checking out.) And that’s just one area. There’s also general automation, graphic design, communication, collaboration… Take the initiative to find new software tools that can help you. You won’t regret it.
Use your colleagues as resources
While you’re hunting down new productivity apps, don’t forget how valuable your colleagues are. It’s easy to forget about them somewhat when you’re not sharing a physical workspace with them, but they have highly-relevant skills — and they’ll help you when you ask for their support. There are surely various areas in which they show proficiencies you don’t possess, so take advantage of that by turning to them whenever relevant.
In other words, stop acting as though you’re a solo operative. You may be physically isolated, but you’re still part of a team, and there’s no sense in spending several hours working on a task if one of your teammates has the skills to get it done within minutes and yield better results. At the same time, they should be passing tasks in your area of expertise to you.
Improve your sleep pattern
Sleep is absolutely essential. When you don’t get enough sleep (or you get low-quality sleep), it damages your health, slows your reaction times, sours your mood, hampers your intelligence, and generally interferes with your ability to get your job done (per Zapier). And though working from home sounds as though it should naturally lead to more sleep (after all, it gets rid of long commutes), it can actually lead to your sleep pattern getting worse.
There are several reasons for this, but the two most notable are as follows: it damages the distinction between work life and home life, leading to you spending more time in front of your computer and less time relaxing, and it causes general anxiety (particularly at the moment) which makes it harder to sleep. You should make a concerted effort to sleep better. Stay hydrated, spend less time at your computer, go to bed earlier, and take up meditation.
Establish healthy food habits
No one should judge you if you’ve turned to comfort eating this year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something about it if you have. It’s hard to see the connections at the time, but it’s always obvious in hindsight that ill-advised eating leads to poor health, bad moods, and reduced productivity. Just making some simple improvements can really help.
Try to make fractional changes. Don’t cut things out of your diet entirely, but scale them back. Throw in some more vegetables. Eat a little less overall. Try to keep your eating to set meal times instead of snacking mindlessly. Even if you can’t cut out the snacking entirely, any changes you can make will allow you to think (and work) a little more easily.
You may also like: Productivity Tips for Remote Workers
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