Top Tips For Staying Productive While Working From Home
How to Stay Productive While Working From Home?
As social distancing and business shut-downs change the way we work in 2020, we are all facing new challenges with working from home. If you are struggling to find ways to stay productive while working from home, you’re not alone!
Working from home in Australia while also homeschooling the kids is an unfamiliar experience for many parents. If you need advice on how to juggle work and home obligations, we have the best handy tips for staying productive while working from home. With the important reminder that you need to do what works for you, we offer some strategies to help you survive working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remember - Don’t Compare Yourself With Others!
The most important piece of advice for surviving these unplanned changes to your work routine is not to compare yourself with the Instagram mums killing it online. Searching online for inspiration on how to work from home effectively with kids will show you all sorts of people doing what works for them. You need to do what works for you! There’s nothing to say you have to work from home in the same way you would normally work while in the office. While setting a routine and sticking with your usual work methods might work for some, there are many reasons why you should get creative with your working from home ideas.
You might be trying to juggle your work around a partner or the kids – or maybe you have some doggos who are enjoying your company! It’s definitely possible to be productive with work and still connect with your family and make time for your own mental health needs.
While every work situation is different, our guide to working from home is aimed at inspiring you to find creative ways that will help you to work from home regardless of your personal situation. We want you to get the motivation you need to stay productive while working from home, and juggle that essential work-life balance we all need to stay happy.
6 Tips for Staying Productive While Working From Home
1. Create A Dedicated Workspace
The first step in starting out with working from home is to create a space you can designate as your work area. If you are your own worst enemy when it comes to distractions, this is essential. A dedicated work area will help you to mentally and physically separate your work from home life. Keeping distraction-free is the best way to stay productive while working at home.
Keep your desk or work area uncluttered. Don’t bring distractions into your work area. And don’t be tempted to wander around the house with your clients’ work files! They’ll end up in the kitchen or on the coffee table under the latest supermarket sales catalogue (that you don’t need anyway) and you’ll never find them again!
A proper office space with an in-tray, document holders, and whiteboard might help you to stay organised and work efficiently. If you need to work on multiple screens or you use your phone for work, a hands-free phone holder might make your workspace more user-friendly.
For parents who are working from home with kids in the house, a dedicated work area or even a separate office will give them a physical boundary to help them learn when they can and can’t interrupt you. This will help to make working from home less stressful for everyone.
If you’re trying to improve your productivity while working from home with young children in the house, you might need to get more creative. Moving a bookshelf to create an imaginary line between ‘Mum’s Work Space’ and everywhere else in the home will not work for kids under 5 who just want to hang out and give mum a hug. Remember to be flexible – a traditional office space in your home isn’t necessarily a requirement. Find what works for you.
2. Change Your Scenery
If you’re working for home and looking after the kids at the same time, being portable with your work makes it easier to do multiple things at once. Sure, trying to balance the budget or plan next week’s sales objectives while also homeschooling the kids at the same time is the quickest way to insanity, but there’s likely to be occasions when simply being present while your kids are doing their own thing will work for you all. Take your laptop outside while the kids are playing in the yard. Join the family in the lounge room while they are playing a board game or building lego. An iPad iBed or cushioned lap desk makes it easier to work while sitting outside or on the couch. Often, the kids will just like having you around. Remember that they might also be feeling isolated from friends and extended family. So, just having a parent involved in their day can be reassuring.
Changing your scenery throughout the day and moving your work space around with the kids is totally okay! Don’t feel locked into too much structure. And don’t be frustrated at yourself or your family if it’s not possible for you to work as productively at home as you might be able to while in the office. Setting realistic goals and working steadily towards achieving them will, in the long run, help you successfully work from home.
3. Make a Plan
We’ve all heard the saying, “Make a plan, and stick to it!”. That’s not going to work in this situation. While a plan is absolutely crucial for improving productivity while you work from home, you need to allow some room for flexibility. A daily work schedule along with a weekly family plan that the whole family can work around is important. Shuffling your work commitments around the needs of your partner or the kids might not allow you to be as productive as you would like, but compromise and patience is essential.
Becoming frustrated because you can’t maintain an overly strict or unrealistic work schedule is the fastest way to tank your productivity. Stay positive, set achievable goals, work to a schedule. If there’s more than one adult in the house, a workload-sharing plan will help you both work as productively as possible.
A good journal or organiser will be your best friend! If you’re used to having your personal assistant on hand to juggle your day, a good work planning journal will make all the difference to boosting your productivity. There’s a range of options when it comes to work planners. Depending on your work habits, a block planner or a goal setting journal might work for you. If you like to list your daily, weekly, or monthly goals and check off your progress, then a goal planner is a great way to maintain productivity. But, if you prefer to schedule your day with dedicated blocks of time spent on specific tasks, then a block planner is a better option for staying on track. Writing the family schedule on a whiteboard in the kitchen lets everyone see what’s going on and keep track of what time has been put aside for work or play.
4. Take a Break
You’ll work better and more productively during your work hours if you clock off at the end of the day. It’s important that you take time for yourself and your family without stressing about the work that is sitting in the next room. You need time to unwind in order to keep your brain fresh. Avoid feelings of guilt over your need to step away from the work to clear your head.
If you need a life-hack for how to stay productive while working from home, you might find a time management system like the Pomodoro Technique will help you. It works by making a schedule of tasks with regular breaks. Setting a timer and working in blocks of focused activity with short, frequent breaks followed by a longer break to clear the head is one of the best productivity boosting methods for working from home. For people who struggle with procrastination or staying focused, this is a good way to get into a work routine with regular breaks.
If working from home is getting too much, it’s time to spend a few hours de-stressing. Maybe watch a movie, treat yourself to a relaxing bath, go for a walk, plant something in the garden, play a board game with the family. Reconnect. You’re not in this alone.
5. Reward Yourself
Set goals and reward yourself for successfully completing each project or task. If you work better with external motivation or with a deadline, then a reward system can help you to be more productive. The more you get done, the bigger the reward! If you finish a modest task by the end of the day, you get that block of chocolate you’ve been eyeing off in the back of the pantry. If you submit all your scheduled tasks by the end of the day, open that bottle of wine! If you tick off everything on your to-do list at the end of the week, order yourself something special online!
Extend the same system to your partner and the kids. If everyone helps out with following the family workload sharing plan, and if the kids remember to work on their own projects without interrupting you during your scheduled work hours, they get a nice gift as a reward as well. You can even choose a fun family reward together at the start of the week so you all know what you’re working towards if everyone chips in and helps.
6. Don’t Forget To Laugh!
Keep your sense of humour! Jump on Zoom or Skype with a friend. Give yourself an hour of free time to search out funny cat memes on the internet. Have a lip-sync battle with the kids. All of these little breaks to have a laugh and clear the head will result in greater productivity and a renewed sense of purpose when you do get back to your work. If all else fails, and the interruptions keep coming, your boss keeps calling, the kids are asking for snacks, your partner wants to know if you’ve seen the TV remote, and your clients are chasing you for last week’s report… it’s time to say ‘no!’. You’re only human. Stick on some noise-cancelling headphones, mount a NO button on your desk, and just keep working. They’ll soon get the message.