A little over a month ago, many of us were sent home from our jobs in an effort to flatten the curve of the coronavirus. For us at Dogwood that meant packing up our monitors, laptops, and chairs and making the move to working at home.
We’re incredibly grateful that our job allows us to work anywhere we can find WIFI but working from home does have its own challenges. Jumping out of bed 5 minutes before work and sitting down at my makeshift desk in my pajamas was nice for the first couple of days, however, I quickly realized that my set up and schedule weren’t going to work for long.
It can be a struggle to be productive when you’re thrown off your rhythm and I know I’m not the only one. So, I wanted to share a couple of tips that I’ve found helpful for being productive even while working at home!
Create a Designated Workspace
When we first moved home to work, I genuinely didn’t think this was going to be a long-term situation. I figured we’d work from home for a week or 2 and then we’d be back to normal. Therefore, my original “office” set up was less than ideal.
We set up my husband’s old multi-level desk in a corner of our bedroom, stuck some boxes under the side of one of my monitors to stabilize it because the desk was too small, and called it a day. Honestly, I was pretty proud of myself for making do with what we had.
The issue with this space (besides my monitors not fitting on it) was that it wasn’t designated as a workspace. My desk was just into a corner of a room that is usually a place of rest and relaxation; not to mention it’s a communal space for my husband and our two dogs so on days when we were all home there was always someone coming and going.
We are creatures of habit. So, when you’re in your bedroom where you usually rest, sleep, and hang out your brain thinks that’s what it should be doing. This makes it more difficult to get into the mindset that it’s time to work and get things done.
After 2 weeks of that setup, I couldn’t take it anymore and we created a more permanent solution, in a spare room in our house. Not only could I work more comfortably now because I had more space, but I found that it was much easier to stay on task and not bother the other members of my household or them bother me.
It’s imperative that you have a designated place in the house that is your “workspace.” I know not all of you have the ability to take over one of the rooms in your house, but I’ve seen people be very creative in making office spaces. I’ve even seen one guy who has turned his walk-in closet into an office. Whether it’s a spare room, a closet, or just a corner of the living room, claim a space, make it yours, don’t use it for things besides work.
Set Boundaries While Working at Home
As I mentioned earlier, I share my house with my husband and our two dogs, and I loved the idea of being home with them more. Which is exactly why we had to set boundaries and expectations. When I first came home, my husband and I talked about what my work schedule would look like.
For the most part, my schedule wasn’t changing. I was still going to work from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday. That meant that even though my husband was off on Mondays, it wasn’t a day for us to hang out or do projects around the house together. It was still a normal workday for me.
This is hard to do when you have family or friends who aren’t working at home and want to spend time with you but I promise it’s worth it.
Because we set that expectation early there were no hurt feelings when I didn’t get to join in on a trip to the dog park or an impromptu trip to Home Depot. It also meant that when I was off work, we could spend that time how we wanted instead of me working late because I had things that I didn’t get done when I was supposed to.
If you don’t set boundaries with your family or roommates, it will be too easy to give your attention to other things when you’re supposed to be working at home. This will make you unproductive and make you feel overwhelmed.
Get into a Productive Routine
Besides my office space not being in the greatest area of the house when I moved home to work, the second biggest problem I had was creating a productive routine. Anything can be a routine if you do it enough, but not everything is a beneficial routine.
The first 2 weeks that we were home I was soaking in all the extra sleep I was able to get. If you know me, I love to sleep and would take naps daily if I could. I was sleeping till 7:45 then lying in bed until 7:55 and then finally jumping online to get started with work by 8.
Obviously, that caught up with me quickly. I began feeling more tired and lethargic that I was when I went to sleep the night before and it became more and more difficult to kick it into gear when it hit 8 o’clock. So, I decided to implement a more productive routine.
For me, a perfect morning looks like getting up early enough to do some yoga or light exercise, leisurely get dressed and ready for the day, eat some breakfast and do my quiet time, all with 15 minutes left over to set up my computer and get ready for my morning work.
This definitely doesn’t happen every morning but having something to strive for makes my days exceptionally better. When you feel like you’ve actually accomplished something before 8 o’clock rolls around, it just sets you up for success and a positive outlook for the rest of the day.
Figure out what your perfect morning would look like and write it down. Strive to do that as often as you can and give yourself plenty of grace for the days that it doesn’t happen.
Don’t ever tell yourself that you just can’t be productive from home because you can! It just takes some discipline and a little extra effort. These three simple things have made a world of difference for me as I’ve worked from home over the past 6 weeks.
If you’re struggling with your new work normal, take some time to evaluate your situation. Maybe your working on the couch or in the living room with the kids isn’t working out, or maybe you need to start getting up a bit earlier to start your day off right. Give it a try and let us know if any of these tips made a difference for you.