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by Erin Bates January 26, 2021
Working from home just might be our new normal, even after the pandemic subsides. Plus, being able to work from home offers many luxuries that just wouldn’t be possible in an office environment. You can wear whatever you want, create your own schedule and avoid those typical office distractions. You might even be saving money by having lunch at home or avoiding that long morning commute.
Regardless, the flexibilities of working from home can also pose new challenges. Let’s be honest- being at home can be distracting. It’s way too easy to start laundry or cleaning, or heck it’s even too easy to take a nap when you feel like it! And once you get distracted, it can be difficult to get back into work mode.
To help you stay in that “work mode”, we’ve compiled a few tips to help make your work day easier and more productive. Read on to see how you can apply them to your own WFH lifestyle.
Ever catch yourself emailing someone at 8pm, or answering phone calls on a Friday night? One downside of working from home is that oftentimes we make ourselves too available, especially outside of work hours. To avoid this, make sure you set your own expectations for working, and make it clear to coworkers.
Establish when you’ll be working (for example, 9-5) and then hold yourself to this schedule. Once you’re clocked out, there is no need to think about work, let alone continue communications after this time. It can be easy to just quickly answer one email, but that can turn into a slippery slope of feeling like you always have to reply right away. Setting these expectations can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, rather than having the two meld together.
As mentioned earlier, working from home can be a distracting environment too. You might be bombarded by other people, like roommates or children, which can make focusing difficult. You also have electronic distractions, like your phone, tv or just web browsing. And generally, you just have all those other distractions, like making food, taking a nap or doing laundry.
Avoiding any and all distractions will make it much easier to stay productive. If you aren’t able to have your own office, find a small space you can claim as your own work zone. It might help to have this away from your bedroom, as working in your bedroom can create other issues.
While this might seem like a simple step, oftentimes our daily and ongoing work tasks can become overwhelming. Creating a to do list can be a simple solution to help you stay prioritized. This to do list could be weekly or daily, depending on your needs. Get yourself a planner that works for you and start planning.
If you don’t like paper lists, using an app like Evernote can be a convenient place to create and store these to do lists. You can sort by date or keyword, and you can create multiple folders to organize different note categories. They even have an app you can download so you can access your notes anytime and anywhere you need them.
And not just a lunch break- taking breaks throughout your work day can actually be beneficial. How? A 2011 study found that the brain essentially can’t stay focused on one specific task for long periods of time. By taking small breaks during tasks, you’re actually helping your brain to refocus and retain information.
However, not all breaks are created equal. While some might be to grab lunch or coffee, work breaks should also focus on boosting positive emotions. These emotions actually help reverse the negative effects of working, and they also increase blood flow to parts of the brain that we use for focusing. Some breaks that support positive emotions could be meditating, going for a walk or chatting with a friend.
So you’ve got your distraction free spot at your house, now how do you turn that into your ideal workspace? First, you need to make sure you’re comfortable (but not too comfortable). Make sure you have a flat surface or desk to work from, and a supportive chair to sit on. You might even want to consider a standing desk to avoid sitting down all day. Natural light is another important element that offers numerous benefits while working.
Now that you have the essentials down, make sure to spice up the space so you can feel calm, collected and cozy (yes, we definitely recommend having a super soft blanket nearby!) Houseplants or flowers are a great option for bringing energy and brightness into your space. Scented candles are also a great addition because they can help improve mood and induce a sense of calm.
Here are our top picks for WFH essentials to help you stay focused and organized!