Making the transition to working from home can be challenging if you are used to office life, but don’t get too stressed just yet. Research actually indicates that working from home can make you more productive, because you don’t have to worry about waking up early to commute or leaving early to pick up your children from daycare.
That being said, working from home does expose you to a whole new category of potential distractions. This week, we are breaking down how to set yourself up for success when you are working from home.
1. Create a dedicated workspace
One of the biggest challenges that people face when transitioning into a WFH environment is drawing a line between work and home life. One great way to do this is to create a dedicated workspace in your home. Research indicates that recreating the physical boundary of an office by designating certain areas of your house as your “work area” is key to the productivity of the most successful teleworkers.
Find a tucked away corner of your home and set up shop there, however is most effective for you. As a rule of thumb, wherever you are working you should be able to keep your laptop off of your lap i.e., you should be at a table or desk. While it is tempting to try and do work from the couch or your bed, you should make an effort to separate work from these locations where you relax and sleep. Your workspace should ideally be a room with a door you can close to block out the noise of children or roommates, but if you don’t have that luxury, try to find a low traffic corner of your home.
Forbes recommends keeping your work-related materials confined to one spot in your home so your work doesn’t start to permeate the rest of your house. For maximum productivity, it is best to clearly separate your workspace and your living space. If you are checking email, taking calls, doing a Zoom meeting or checking in via Slack, do it in your designated workspace and not on the couch. This will make it much easier to check out of work mode at the end of the day.
2. Try some noise cancelling headphones
If you don’t have a luxury of a home office, you might struggle to focus amidst the noises of any loud neighbors, roommates, children, or pets. Now is a great time to invest in some noise canceling headphones. You can also try playing some ambient music or white noise to help you stay concentrated. According to Forbes, a blend of soft music and nature sounds has been shown to activate the calming part of your brain and help you concentrate.
3. Establish a clear schedule
Humans are creatures that love a good routine. Without a good schedule, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to be productive. Try to make yourself wake up at the same time every day and work for a set number of hours. If you usually leave the office at 5:45, pack up your work materials at that time too. Studies indicate that clear time boundaries are key for creating a division between working and non-working hours, which in turn will help you maximize your productivity when you are trying to get things done.
4. Dress for success
Working from home can be challenging because what is stopping you from hopping on a conference call in your pajamas? Nothing! However, getting dressed properly can be key to helping you maintain your focus throughout the day. Empirical research has found that what you are wearing does have an effect on your behavior. When you wear pajamas, you are preparing to relax. When you wear a suit, you are prepared to be professional. If you try to be productive while wearing pajamas, the likelihood is that this mental association with relaxation will impede you from getting as much done as you might like. That being said, you don’t have to be walking around your house in a full suit. Even if you just toss on a pair of leggings or jeans, changing your clothes will help you shift your mindset from relaxation to work mode.
Also, physical changes in what you are wearing can help you distinguish between work time and leisure time when you are staying at home for the whole day. Moral of the story is, whatever you do, get out of your pajamas. You can throw them back on once you have finished a solid day’s work.
5. Do work during work hours
It can be tempting to use your time at home to throw in a load of laundry or finally get caught up on the show you are watching, but you should stick to keeping those personal tasks to outside of work hours. It will be a lot easier to keep focused and be productive if you think of yourself as “at work.” Anything you can or would normally do while you were in the office, that’s a go during the work day. Anything that would typically need to wait until you got home, avoid doing while you’re working.
On the flip side, make sure you let yourself switch off during non-work hours. Some studies have found that people who work from home actually end up working more than they would otherwise because of the accessibility of all their supplies. It can be tempting to answer calls and emails outside of working hours when you are at home and have access to all your work stuff, but research indicates that to be most productive when you are working from home, it’s important to maintain the boundary between work and non-work hours. This means turn off your notifications and send your phone to voicemail if you are getting alerts outside of work hours.
6. Take breaks
Do not forget to take regular breaks. Research indicates that taking brief breaks from the task you are working on actually dramatically improves your ability to focus on it for a longer period of time. If you aren’t sure how to structure your day, you can try the 52/17 method. This is based on research that found that the most productive employees work for 52 minutes straight and then take a 17 minute break, which allowed them time to rest their brains, and actually helped them finish their tasks faster. If you prefer more even numbers, try working for 45 minutes with no distractions and then taking 15 minutes to check your phone, get a snack, or get up and stretch your legs.
7. Get outside
Spending time outdoors can be key for maintaining the headspace to be productive when working from home. Studies have found that proximity to greenery can help reduce stress. They have also found that interacting with nature might help improve cognition. Some studies have even found that spending time outside could improve your short term memory, help you stay focused, and help you concentrate better. Try to get outside at least once a day to get some fresh air. If anything, it will offer a welcome change of scenery after weeks of being inside.
8. Make human contact
Working from home can be lonely! You may find yourself missing your day to day interactions with your coworkers. Luckily, in this age of modern technology, you have the tools at your fingertips to stay connected even when you are out of the office. Testing out an internal messaging platform such as Slack lets you communicate with your coworkers without the formality of an email.
Don’t be afraid to use video meeting platforms such as Zoom to communicate with your team. You may find the face-to-face contact with your coworkers comes as a welcome social interaction, and helps make the meeting more productive. If you have a regular happy hour or coffee break meeting tradition, keep it going over video chat! And remember, you are most likely not the only person feeling a little lonely these days.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to overcommunicate. Sometimes when relying on technology, the meaning behind a message can be lost in translation. If you have a question, ask for clarification. You won’t be able to drop by that person’s desk or grab lunch with them, so don’t be afraid to give them a call or Facetime if chatting over email isn’t working for you. Try to be as clear as you can in any messages you send out to your team or your clients, and be ready to field any questions they may have as well. Communication is the key to productivity, so taking the time to do it properly will never go to waste!
9. Take your supplements!
This section comes from our blog on how to stay focused at work, but applies just as well when you are working from home!
If you are trying to improve your ability to focus, there are a number of supplements that can help. Make sure you are getting your DHA or fish oil with Omega-3/6/9 fatty acids. These support mental sharpness, fatigue, vision, and inflammation. Studies have shown that DHA is also linked to improve thinking skills and memory.
Next is your B vitamins, which are super important for maintaining and improving cognitive function. Specifically, look out for B6, which can increase alertness, and B12, which is critical for fighting chronic fatigue and providing energy throughout the day. Your Binto daily supplement packs come with all the DHA, B6, and B12 vitamins you will need to stay focused, so if you haven’t taken our personalized survey yet, get started here!
We are here to help!
Adjusting to working from home can be challenging, particularly with everything else that is going on in the world. We hope these tips will help you be productive and stay focused. And remember, our health experts here at Binto are only an email or a chat message away. If you have questions about your health, supplement routine, or just want someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to reach out to us at [email protected] or through the chat portal on mybinto.com!