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Staying Productive at Home: How to Improve Productivity
I thought that if anyone knew how to improve productivity, it was me. I’ve been working from home full-time for just over a year. Working from home seemed like the answer to all my problems – until I had to do it. Then, I wasted precious time wondering what time OrangeTheory offered classes today, what the dog was barking at, or whether the mail had arrived. I had a hard time settling into my work day and an even harder time extracting myself from it.
Regardless of whether working from home was ever part of your plan, you are likely now working from home as a result of the coronavirus. Here are nine tips for those of you looking for how to improve productivity and optimize your work from home game:
Change your mindset.
You can decide right now to shift your mindset from “have to” to “get to.”
You don’t have to work from home, you GET to work from home. There are plenty of ER doctors, police officers, grocery store clerks, and waitresses who WISH working from home was an option right now.
You don’t have to teach your kids. You GET to teach your kids. Remember how excited you were when you found out you were pregnant? You need to channel that excitement right about now.
You are fortunate to have the opportunity to keep your family healthy, keep your career on track, and keep your kids learning.
You got this.
Claim your space.
To work from home most efficiently, you need to have the exact same set-up at home as you do at the office. I have two screens, an external mouse, a scanner, and a printer within arm’s reach in my home office. I have pens, folders, binder clips, paper clips, scissors, a stapler, tape, tabs, sticky notes and hand cream – all in two small drawers. I have pictures of my loved ones, rocks from favorite beaches, crystals from my grandmother. My home office is my favorite room in the house – so I’m happy to spend time here.
And, I always stock all my favorite daytime beverages – coffee, fizzy water, + tea – just around the corner in the kitchen.
Keep Your Routine
What do you normally do in the morning to prepare for your day? Do all those same things.
Even the commute.
Your commute serves an important function as the container in which you hold your work day. Integrate the ingredients of an enjoyable commute into your day at home.
Work regular hours so your clients know when they can reach you and so you know when to shut it down.
Set Ground Rules
Family and house work can be huge distractions when working from home.
Let your family know your schedule. Shut your door. Be firm + kind.
If you are facilitating distance learning, be sure you build this “teacher time” into your day.
Performing small tasks around the house can be one of the bonuses of working from home, as long as you throw in a load of laundry while walking to the restroom <as opposed to folding a load of laundry while watching Love is Blind!>.
Focus on what must get done first. Working from home <especially with children underfoot> can be unpredictable. Do the most urgent tasks first while you are least likely to be distracted and have the most energy.
Stop Eating Lunch at Your Desk
Step away from the computer for 30 minutes to eat lunch. There is science to support the fact that you eat less and make better food choices when you don’t eat in front of your computer. Plus, taking a true break will improve your ability to focus and increase your creativity. Plus, it’s more sanitary and more sanity-saving to eat in the kitchen.
Make sure that you get outside to exercise, take a conference call, or stretch. Spending as little as 20 minutes outside in nature has been proven to improve short term memory, reduce stress, increase energy, fight anxiety, reduce blood pressure, and improve your ability to focus.
One of the great dangers of social distancing is loneliness. Combat loneliness by scheduling virtual coffees or virtual happy hours with your friends and colleagues via Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. Humans are relational by design, so be sure to set aside time to connect with friends + colleagues.
Embrace Good Enough
None of us are going to be perfect moms, perfect teachers, perfect bosses, perfect employees, AND perfect spouses during this time period. Do your best and have confidence that your best is good enough <even if your kids are spending hours watching other kids play with toys on YouTube instead of playing with toys themselves>.
I hope these nine tips give you your game back. Do you have more suggestions on how to improve productivity?
Remember, anything or anyone who doesn’t light you up is too small for you.
Business + Leadership Coach