Tips for Working From Home in 2021
A year into the coronavirus pandemic, it seems that the work-from-home lifestyle is not going away anytime soon. Even as companies are inviting employees back to physical offices, many are choosing to remain at home. We have become accustomed to a new type of workday - one was lounging in pajama pants with our "Zoom shirts" on top and making several Target runs a day is normal. For many, the fluidity of working from home makes productivity much more difficult, and prior effective working routines have fallen apart since the beginning of the pandemic. Try out the following tips to revitalize your WFM lifestyle:
- Establish or (re-establish) your workspace
At the start of the pandemic, many people were cast out of their offices last minute and didn't have a proper workspace in their homes. Some people opted to fully commit and purchased desks, dividers, and monitors to help them work...and gradually have gravitated towards their couch or bed as the months wore on. Others immediately embraced the opportunity of working from their bed. No matter where you began, establishing a workspace is crucial to productivity and your mindset when working from home. By separating your relaxation and living space from your desk and laptop, you ensure that your mind understands the difference between taking a Netflix break on the couch and participating in a zoom meeting. No elaborate setup is necessary - just make sure that you prioritize completing your work at a specific station set aside for productivity.
- Get in the Mindset
Once you have a dedicated workspace, it's crucial to get yourself in a workday mindset. Prior to the pandemic, we all would wake up, perhaps shower, wash our faces, have a coffee, and begin a commute - all of which would provide a routine that helps our mind understand "it's time to work!". Now, it's tempting to roll out of bed (or even stay in it) and hop on a Zoom meeting, still groggy in PJs. Getting yourself in a morning routine is easy and can do wonders for readiness to work. There's no need to wear the same formal clothes as you would in the office, but making the effort to put on a new set of clothes (athleisure and sweatpants still ok!), wash our face and brush our teeth, and have a coffee or breakfast provides much-needed structure to a WFM day.
- Mindfully Divide Time
The best way to stay on task and maintain motivation is to schedule yourself - not just your work and to-do list, but your entire day. In the office, you might normally arrive at work and spend your first half hour catching up on emails, and then have a dedicated lunch break, and take a walk in the afternoon. At home, it's too easy to slip into procrastination or side tasks when you have less supervision and peer pressure to constantly remain working. When you WFM, maintain your typical work schedule and intentionally write it out. Block out your Google Calendar with "email response", "lunch break", or "afternoon walk" in addition to your to-do tasks and meetings. To prevent Zoom burnout, factor in breaks every 45 minutes or so, and take a longer break every few hours to reset.
- Incorporate (safe) Social Interaction
After a year of working from home, we all know how tough it has been to maintain friendships, relationships, and family time while balancing social responsibility and the risks of the virus. Luckily, as the vaccine rollout continues to progress, most states have begun lifting restrictions, allowing for more social activities. Make an effort to prioritize safe social events (we all need it!) and schedule a walk with a coworker, an outdoor dinner date with friends, or a night in with family. Face-to-face human interaction will boost your mood and your productivity!
Overall, keep in mind that with the right mindset and routine WFH can be as productive - if not more productive - than working in the office! Without extra-early wakeups and long or delayed commutes, you might have more time than you think to get all your work done, on your own schedule. It's been almost a year of this new normal, and getting back on a real schedule can help your work success move forward. Even as we (eventually) head back to the office, many workplaces might maintain a partial work-from-home schedule, with employees only going in a few days of the week, so prioritizing a healthy WFH lifestyle will be crucial to your future career success! Keep your eye out for even more tips from Bringing It Home With Heidi as we navigate the year ahead.