With COVID 19 wreaking havoc on the social order, a lot more people are working from home. While not having to commute to work and working in your PJs may sound great, it is not always easy.
As someone who has worked remotely for a significant chunk of my career, it took me a lot of trial and error to get good at it. Below are some tips that help me stay productive, and avoid burnout, while working from home.
Have a routine
It is tempting to wake up and start working from bed (Trust me, I know), but it is very important to maintain a good routine. Get out of bed, shower, get dressed (even if it is your PJs) and have a healthy breakfast before you start your work day.
It is ideal to have consistent set of hours to work. Its best to follow your regular 9-5, even if your company doesn’t require it and make sure you take a midday break for lunch so it keeps you fresh and motivated for the rest of the day.
Do not let your work spill over to the next day, especially over to weekends even if your company allows it. That’s an easy way to feel like you never get a break, and get burnt out.
Know when to switch it off
It is easy to get carried away and keep working beyond your usual hours, especially if you are stuck at a problem, but it’s important to remember to switch off.
You are less likely to fix the issue at hand because you are already drained, and if you keep working late, you won’t be fresh the next day. Instead, stop working when your hours are up, have a relaxing evening and come back at it fresh the next morning.
Try to minimize distractions as much as possible. For digital distractions, I use a Google Chrome extension called block site, which basically does what it says. You can define a list of websites that you want to block while working e.g Youtube, Reddit, Facebook, etc, and it will not let you open those sites.
On the other hand, eliminating offline distractions is a bit more difficult, but not impossible. While having a separate office in your house is not always possible, I recommend keeping your desk in an isolated area in the house, away from everyone.
Using noise isolating headphones is an easy way to block out sounds or voices of family members talking so you don’t get distracted by them. There have been studies that prove that if you hear someone you know talking, you are more likely to get distracted.
Get Comfortable, but not too comfortable
Being comfortable is important, but there is a difference between being comfortable enough to work, and comfortable enough to fall asleep. Make sure it’s not the latter. Have a nice, ergonomic desk and a chair with great back support, and avoid working from your bed at all costs, that is a recipe for disaster and can also affect your sleep pattern.
Create a to-do list for your tasks, apart from your project management software, to breakdown the task into smaller chunks. It helps you stay focused, and it’s very satisfying to tick off the boxes as you get done with things.
Additionally, you can use something like Pomodoro timer to help boost your productivity.
And for the sake of your sanity, keep a clean desk. It’s easy to get messy because no one is watching.
At an office, communicating is easy because you can do it face to face, that is why having good communication skills become even more important when you’re working remotely. My favorite tool to stay in touch with my team is Slack. Use it when you have complex questions that can not be answered through text. I encourage calls among my team, even if it is a 5 minute quick call. A 5 minute call can be way more effective than typing for half an hour.
I hope these tips are helpful. Feel free to share tips that work for you in the comments, I’d love to read them!