Navigating the changes we’re being asked to make in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is new territory for all of us. Most of us have no choice but to adjust to a “new normal.” For some, that means working from home for the first time and/or managing their teams remotely.
Whether you’re new to working from home or just need a refresher on how to stay focused with the confusion that’s taking up precious mental space in your brain lately, the following five tips will help you stay productive and connected in isolation, as well as set boundaries to maintain a healthy balance between your work and home lives.
Set designated work hours. When you work from home, it can be difficult to keep personal and professional tasks from blending together. On one hand, it seems perfectly reasonable to throw a load of laundry in between conference calls but setting boundaries is the only way to ensure work tasks take priority and are completed on time. It’s important to maintain a separation between work hours and home life.
Schedule your workday ahead of time. After you’ve decided on the hours you’ll be working, the next step for optimizing your productivity during the workday is to figure out what tasks need to get done and when. Make a list of everything that must be completed by the end of the day and prioritize each task so you can meet essential deadlines.
Eliminate distractions. We’ve all done it…the plan is to send a quick reply to a Facebook message and before you know it, you’ve spent 45 minutes scrolling through a friend-of-a-friend’s vacation pics. The good news is, silencing your phone or temporarily disabling notifications during work hours eliminates the urge to respond to every bell and whistle that temps you away from the task at hand. If you have to use social media for your job, make sure to set a timer so you don’t find yourself getting sucked down the rabbit hole.
Use online platforms to stay connected with your team. Working from home can leave you feeling isolated and alone. And these days, with social distancing being required to reduce the spread of coronavirus, many of us are craving connection now more than ever. Luckily, platforms like Skype, Zoom, Free Conference Calling, and Slack allow us to work together remotely; most even have free options.
Schedule regular breaks into your workday. You don’t have to be chained to your desk all day to boost productivity. In fact, taking regular breaks throughout the day will leave you feeling energized, refreshed, and better able to focus when you get back to your to-do list. So, go for a walk, meditate, eat your lunch outside–whatever takes your mind off of your work for the time being. Just make sure to schedule time out as you would any other important task.