While many people aspire to work from home, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought everyone to a stark realization that focusing at work when you are home is a lot more difficult than it is if you were in the office.
For one, your brain is not programmed to work at home—there are all these nuances of comfort and entertainment that prevent you from concentrating. Add to that the encumbrance of having children, doing the chores, and you find yourself in an environment that is not work-friendly.
Today, I will share some tips about how you can stay productive while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we all hope that this goes away soon, it still makes sense that we start changing our lifestyles to fit our current situation.
Create Your Own Space and Stick to It
You need to designate a space in your house where you can work on a regular basis. If you have a den, you can use that space. In an apartment, you can use the kitchen table, or stay in your bedroom.
This space should be prepared as a work environment, which also doubles for home use. If you use your kitchen table, remove everything that is on it, and get it set for work. Empty it out, so your brain does not get confused between the idea of having a meal or working.
If you have a huge living room, you can set-up a small desk and a small cabinet if you need to keep some files. A small chair or wooden sofa will also do. You can DIY your desk, or you can buy those folding ones that are readily available in IKEA or in big box stores.
Stick to a Schedule If Possible
The most common error that people do in telecommuting is they work when they want to work. This is especially so if they have a job where they have no set schedules. If you do this, you are prone to procrastination, and you will never get things done.
Set a reasonable schedule to work and stick to it. If possible, choose a schedule where everyone is already asleep. If you think working at night is difficult, think again. Working at night from home is one of the best things to do since everyone has gone to bed.
You will not hear your neighbor’s noises, there are no cars on the streets, your children and spouse are asleep—every possible source is reduced to an ideal level.
Develop a new sleeping habit, wake up at the right time, and get to work at your chosen schedule, and you will be amazed at how productive you can be.
Stay Away from Your Phone
The mobile phone is one of the major distractions you can possibly face while working from home. Your mobile phone has games and apps where you can pay, browse your email, call friends, or browse social media apps.
All of these are distractions that you do not need. Put your phone away—put it in the living room if you are working in the kitchen or vice versa. Do not put it in silent mode. You should still be able to hear it if someone calls.
What you have to do is to check your phone during your break time. Also, it makes sense to assign different tones for apps and calls. This way, you know if you have to take your phone or not if it makes a sound.
Sounds from game apps should be ignored, while sounds from your work email must be attended to.
Start a Good Habit before Working
One of the best things you can do to stay productive is to prepare your mind and body before going to work. What I recommend is to start a daily habit before you even get to work.
A great example I can provide is a cup of coffee after waking up. Eat your breakfast. Take your time, you will never be late for work.
Drink your coffee in a quiet space. Do it outside and breathe in the fresh air. If possible, avoid human contact. What you want is a serene or calm environment. Think of your day ahead, and plan how your day will go.
Think of your priorities, what projects you want to complete today, and try to stick to that plan. Make this a habit and your brain will naturally be in work mode after this activity.
Learn to Balance Work and Life
The people in your house will never realize how hard it is to work from home—they will continue their daily habits and their lives. You cannot change these rules—a house is a home and people should behave in ways that they should in their house.
If you set strict rules, you are going to strain your relationship. What you have to do is to change your perspective, and stay patient all the time.
You have to balance your work and your life inside the house. If your job does not require a video call or you do not work based on a 9 to 5 schedule, then you can certainly find ways to be productive as a member of the family while also being productive for your job.
If the baby needs a diaper change, do it if you can. If your children need some of your time, make a practical decision to play a little while or turn it down. As a parent, you cannot be at home but not at home at the same time.
Get a Break Regularly
No one is watching you, so take a break if you feel tired or if you are overwhelmed. Go outside, drink more coffee or water, and breathe in the fresh air.
The beauty of working from home is that you can take a break from work and refresh anytime. Your break time is completely up to you. Take a nap if you must. You have to be at your best while working. You will find yourself more productive if you are rested.
Resting and taking breaks when they are due are both necessary. Working while tired or while you are out of focus impacts the quality of your output. Take some time to take a break and think things through. You may even have Aha! Moments during these breaks.
Separate Work from Home Life
One of the most important things you need to do to be productive is to separate your home life from your work life. If you are working, try to avoid invitations from your neighbors.
You have a job to do, and you need to fulfill your duties. The same goes for your family. While you can eat lunch and dinner with them, you need to set some boundaries.
Work on Your Blog and Grow Another Income Stream
Many online businesses are thriving now while most world markets are crashing because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
While some website traffic has dropped for a short period, many sites are back and booming. Not all of them though. If there is one thing I have learned during this crisis is that your niche is important.
For examle, due to travel restrictions, a blog in the tourism niche will suffer.
At the same time, businesses in a niche where people need supplies, entertainment (Netflix subscribers are skyrocketing along with their profits) or education from home are growing stronger.
If you are a blogger or are looking to start a blog, you can find success even in adverse circumstances, but only if you have chosen the right niche.
It’s never been more important than now to promote appropriate blogs or start new ones in order create new income streams for future when the pandemic becomes a distant memory.
The coronavirus has changed the world. Even once this is over, we can expect telecommuting to be the new norm. For one, many companies may now have realized how much money they can save if they allowed their employees to work at home.
As such, it is a great idea to start getting used to it from now. Set a working space in your own house, no matter how small. Change your schedule if you can, and you can make the best out of balancing your life and your work at the same place.
If you have been dabbling in blogging, then start thinking seriously about ramping up the number of blog posts and taking your blog seriously as a long-term income source and not just a hobby that you work on in your free time.