#1 Create a designated working area
Clean up the area where you will work every day and make it free of distractions and interruptions. Try to reserve this area for working only. This creates an association in your brain to this place where work gets done and nothing else.
It also separates work mode from relaxation mode. If you were to sit and work on the couch, you’d probably be less productive because your brain associates the couch with relaxation.
No separate room available?
Try creating a physical barrier around your part of the dining table with a curtain or a binder. You don’t need to be completely separated from everything and everyone, but it should set a mental barrier to cancel out distractions and make yourself more focused.
#2 Cancel out the noise
In case you do not have a separate room, a good pair of noise cancelling headphones can act as a mental barrier as well as preventing distractions that are happening around you. On the other hand, it also makes sure you are not the one distracting other people in the household with your music or podcasts. Listening to your favorite music helps you get energized and keep your focus.
#3 Set boundaries
Make sure to agree on boundaries with your household in order to prevent interruptions. For example, make sure to inform them about your meetings and set up quiet times in the house. This way you are creating a quiet and distraction-free environment when it is necessary.
Of course, we can’t work for eight hours straight in pure isolation, so schedule your breaks upfront and together with your household to do something fun.
#4 Out of sight, out of mind
When done with a day’s work, put your laptop out of sight and mute your phone. It helps you to distance yourself from work and be more at ease.
No constant reminders of your to do’s and no pressure to work all the time. This will help you feel less stressed about working from home, because it acts as a mental way of leaving the office and checking out, when there is no real office that you are leaving.
#5 Fun virtual events
No small talk at the coffee machine and no chit chat with your colleagues at the water cooler. In order to make up for this, organize some virtual events instead. An online game night with Jackbox Party Pack for example , or a virtual afterwork where you can just chat with your colleagues while having a snack and a drink. This will bring up the morale and people may just feel just a little bit less isolated.
#6 Try starting early and immediately
Create your own routine by waking up early and at the same time every morning. Your brain likes routine because it doesn’t need to spend energy on deciding when to get up and what to do first. Wake up, get ready, set a pot of coffee (or tea) and take a short walk as moving gives energy.
Then start working! It makes you more productive and efficient, and if you hit a wall, you can reset your brain with breakfast.
Additionally, starting earlier will make you avoid the frustrations of slow internet by avoiding the times that most people are online. Since everyone is online right now, just like regular traffic during rush hour, internet traffic gets really congested at certain hours too.
Not a morning person? Set your own working hours. Creating this schedule will help you not to drag out tasks throughout the whole day and will make yourself less efficient. When your work schedule is done, stop working and relax, as if you just came home from the office.
#7 Try the Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique is a time management method by Francesco Cirillo and it uses a timer to increase your productivity. You work in pomodoro (tomato) increments , one pomodoro is usually 25 minutes, but you can decide on that yourself. Here are six simple steps:
- Choose a task that you would like to get done.
- Set your pomodoro timer
- Work on the task until your timer is up
- End work until the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper (1 checkmark= 1 pomodoro)
- Take a short break: grab a coffee or tea, stretch, just take your mind off work
- Repeat the process until you reach 4 Pomodoro’s, then take a longer 15 to 30 minute break and reset your Pomodoro count
Are you tech savvy and don’t like paper? Try the online version of the technice or download one of the free apps available for your smart devices and don’t forget to turn off your notifications!
#8 Don’t forget, we are all human
At the end of the day, we are all in this situation together. It is not the greatest time, so in order to make most out of it, have empathy. Calls are interrupted by children, background noise is a fact but this is outside of your control. Best thing we can do, is to be patient with each other. This creates a space where it is mutually understood that we are all human, we are not perfect, we need to take breaks, we cannot be online 24/7 and that is okay.