Do you feel like you just can’t be productive while working from home?
Countless people across the country are discovering that working from home isn’t as easy as it looks. Without your usual daily routine and commute to help you switch into “work mode”, it can be hard to find the discipline to start your workday. And then there are all the at-home distractions!
Here are some suggestions to improve your at-home work experience:
Have a Dedicated Work Area
Do you have a dedicated home office? Our minds create unconscious associations with specific areas. The kitchen is for cooking and eating, for example. The living room is for relaxing and watching TV.
One of the keys to building a productive routine at home is to dedicate a single spot in your home for work. It shouldn’t be a multi-purpose space. When you sit down with your computer, it should be the focus in that area of your home. Not the distraction of dishes in the sink or the television in the background.
If you can create a “workspace” in your home it will help get you into the work mindset and out of an “I’m at home” way of thinking. If you don’t have a room that you can dedicate to just your office, try to eliminate unnecessary distractions in that space. If it’s your dining room table, make sure the room has been cleared of dishes, etc. before you get down to work.
Build a Daily Routine
To be productive, most people need structure and routine. If anything throws off that routine, it can disrupt your workflow and send you down a spiral of distraction. When you can’t be in the office, you need to create a daily structure and routine in your home.
First, the wake up routine. Rather than sleeping in and leisurely starting your day, take hold of your mornings. Establish a non-negotiable start time when you sit down to work.
If you always take a lunch break between 12pm and 1pm when you’re at the office, do the same when you’re at home. Breaks throughout the day? Keep them scheduled at regular intervals and don’t deviate from the plan. It’s also nice to wrap up your work day on schedule rather than having the work follow you into the evenings.
Keeping a steady routine can require some self-discipline, but once you get used to it, you’ll find that getting into work mode will be much easier.
Try Productivity Techniques
Have you ever tried what people have been calling productivity “hacks”?
The Pomodoro Technique, created by Francesco Cirillo, is a process designed to improve focus and productivity. Here’s how it works:
You set a timer for 25 minutes. This block of time is called a “Pomodoro.” During those 25 minutes, you do nothing but work. No breaks, no checking social media, just keep working. At the end of the 25 minutes, you take a five-minute break, then do another 25 minutes, and so on. After four Pomodoros, you take a longer break, anywhere from 20 minutes to a half-hour.
This method can help create structure to your workflow. It also makes it easier to keep track of what you’re working on at any given time. There are situations when the Pomodoro technique with all of those breaks won’t work, like when you’re in a virtual session with a client. But if you’re having trouble focusing throughout the day, this technique might be the trick you need to boost your productivity.
If the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t work for you, there are many other time
management methods and “hacks”. The MITs (Most Important Tasks list) involves identifying your three most important tasks before beginning your work day. The Two-Minute Rule comes into play when something pops up that’s outside of your work plan. With this rule, you ask yourself if you can complete the task in two minutes or less. If the answer is yes, go for it. If the task will take more than two minutes, add it to your list to do later.
For another interesting productivity method, look up “Don’t Break the Chain,” made famous by Jerry Seinfeld!
Keep Distractions to a Minimum
If you have a home office, keeping noise and distractions outside is easier since you can close the door. If your kids (or spouse) keep opening the door, set some ground rules about your office hours.
If you don’t have a dedicated room for work, you may need to share the space with your partner or even children. To keep distractions to a minimum, you will need even stronger family ground rules. Everyone needs to understand the significance of quiet, focused work time. Your kids (and your partner) need to understand that working hours are a time to focus on their own projects quietly. This can be a big challenge and one that every family will need to work out for themselves. But the effort is worth it for your work productivity, family dynamic, and mental health.
Even if your family isn’t actively trying to get your attention, they can still make quite a racket. You might want to invest in a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones. While they won’t completely block the noise from the “outside,” they will somewhat muffle it.
If you’re still distracted, you might want to try playing some music or white noise on your headphones while you work. It should be as unobtrusive as possible. Try to avoid music with lyrics; instrumental music is best. Basically, you want something to drown out all the noise around you but not add to the distraction.
Be Kind to Yourself
More than anything, you need to be kind and forgiving to yourself during this period. During the pandemic, remember that productivity isn’t everything. The world is going through a challenging time and you need to be realistic about what you can accomplish during the crisis. Some days, you likely won’t be productive, and that’s ok.
Whether you read this during the pandemic or at a later date, we hope that you find Owl Practice’s virtual solutions to be as supportive to your work as possible. With Owl, you can work from anywhere and we hope it supports you for both your in-office and at-home needs.
If you’re new to Owl and you’d like to experience what the practice management software has to offer, book a 14-day free trial or book a demo today. And if you have any questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.