By Anne Peters, LMFT
Working from home brings its own set of advantages, but also so many challenges. For most of us, home is a place that is separated from work – both physically and mentally. We try to leave work at work, and focus on home at home. For many of us, the worlds have now collided with little to no notice for proper planning. How do we continue to be a productive worker during our designated hours, but then also allow ourselves to turn work off when the day is done? It’s easier said than done, but I’ve compiled a list of five tips to be productive when working from home.
1. Make a designated work space: This is perhaps one of the MOST important tips. We cannot expect ourselves to work without distraction if we are sitting on the couch with Netflix on, like we do on Saturday mornings. This doesn’t mean you have to invest money in a brand-new home office. We can work with what we have! Reposition your dining table, dust off your old desk, or even set up a TV tray somewhere quiet. Keep the distractions to a minimum in this space, and put out some things that will help you focus and want to be in the space. (For me, it’s my essential oil diffuser). Use this space for work only, and there we have it- a work space!
2. Set a schedule and stick to it: Designate a start time, lunch break, and end time for each day. Make these achievable (for example, don’t tell yourself you’ll start working at 7 a.m. if you aren’t an early bird). Hold yourself accountable to this – it’s for your own benefit! When 5 p.m. (or ending time) comes, it’s important to close that laptop, sign out of your email, and “log off” of work. Now it’s your time to care for yourself.
3. Stay connected: One major benefit of having a place of work is the social interactions. When we are working from home, the feelings of isolation can start to set in. Reach out to your manager and coworkers regularly. Still form that community, ask questions, and check in with one another. If you’re feeling a little isolated and needing to feel connected, odds are your fellow coworkers are too. Blogger tip: My supervisor organized a weekly “check- in” with our team. We visit via video chat. There are some agenda items we cover, but the rest of the time is used to just check in and process. I look forward to it each week!
4. Be organized: After the first week of working from home, I knew I needed to set my organization into high gear. I had sticky notes all over my desk and different lists in different notebooks. We get a lot of information from a lot of different people electronically when working from home. This puts us into overload (which tends to make us either work extra hard or not work at all due to overwhelmed feelings), which is not helpful. Have a central location to keep all of your “to-do’s.” A large monthly calendar has also been helpful for me to lay out the big picture/long-term goals, along with my short-term goals in a list. Being in an organized space also has the ability to make our minds feel more organized and calm. Win, win!
5. Give yourself grace (and a break): Working from home is not easy. Give yourself grace in knowing this. We are currently encouraged to be staying home, which is now where we live, work, eat, exercise, shop, sleep, etc. This is unprecedented for us! Some days will feel easier. Some days will feel hard. Both are OK. Get up, make yourself a cup of tea, and take a deep breath. You’re OK.