Maintaining Productivity While Working From Home — It’s Possible!

working at home office

As we all know by now, in order to control the spread of COVID-19, employers have taken steps to transition their workforce to working from home, wherever feasible. Initially, many workers who’d never worked from home before may have experienced feelings of happiness and relief. After all, they were being given a welcome break from a long daily commute and the freedom to work in a more familiar, comfortable setting. But, as time goes on and workers settle into the reality of their “new normal,” many may be finding it difficult to be as productive as they were in their employer’s environment.

Working at home can have many distractions: the kids cry for attention, the dog barks during a meeting, an unannounced visitor comes to the door, or the house is a mess and you can’t stand it any longer, so you burn up precious work hours on cleaning.

So, how do you succeed in your home office? How do you ensure maximum productivity? As a writer, I’ve worked from home long before coronavirus and have developed some tactics that help me maintain my productivity. Let me share some of the tips I’ve learned over the years:

Establish a structure. This may not be easy, especially if you have a family at home with you. However, try to work when you know you’re at your sharpest and most productive. For example, I’m not an early bird and don’t feel fully awake until I have my morning cup of coffee. So, I start writing around 10:00 a.m. and work until about 6:00 p.m., taking regular breaks during those 8 hours in order to give my mind a rest.

Have a designated work area. Your work area should be free from excessive noise or visual distractions and have enough room for your desk and chair, computer, printer, phone, and filing cabinet — really, whatever the tools of your trade are. Try to establish a rule in your household that you’re not to be disturbed when you’re in your work area, even if it’s at the dining room table.

Declutter your workspace. A cluttered desk clutters the mind. Keep your work area tidy and have only papers and files out that are related to the task at hand. Decluttering your workspace will help you stay focused and provide a professional, in-office experience.

Dress for Success. This is especially important for online meetings. You don’t need to wear a fancy business suit, but you should always wear neat and professional attire. Some people say “dress for above the desk,” but I say “dress professionally from head to toe” because you wouldn’t want your client or boss to see your scruffy track pants if you stand up during a meeting to grab your notes. You never know when an urgent, impromptu Zoom video meeting might be set up. Besides, dressing in work-appropriate — but comfortable — clothing gives your mood and confidence a boost and sets the stage for a productive day.

Use breaks to catch up on housework and other small chores. You’d be surprised at how much you can get done in a ten-minute break. When I’m really organized and efficient in getting my work done, I still have time left over to do the cleaning, dishes, and vacuuming — all within my busy workday.

Reach out to people. Sometimes, working at home can be lonely. Take some time to make new connections, reestablish old ones, or keep in touch with coworkers. Watch your time carefully because if you have “the gift of gab” like me, you can easily burn up an hour talking on the phone — like I did today with my sister, but she’s worth it.

Log off at the end of the day. Close all your work-related computer programs to avoid getting tempted to do that “one last thing” before tomorrow morning. Spend time with your family, engage in your hobby, or just simply relax. Then, you’ll be refreshed and renewed — ready to face tomorrow’s challenges.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind when working at home. Above all, if this is a new experience for you, be patient with yourself because you’re learning about, and adapting to, a whole new way of working in very challenging times.

Giselle Mazurat is a Certified Résumé Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. She specializes in helping technical and skilled trade professionals reach their career goals by creating industry-focused résumés and LinkedIn profiles. Giselle is also a gig worker who is never short of work writing technical documentation for Fortune 500 companies and government.

Photo by Elena Batkova on 123RF

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