Before the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home has never played an important part in my everyday life. I’m used to getting ready in the morning, having breakfast and driving to the office, where I spend 9 to 10 hours before heading back home. Home office days were rare, so I never considered thinking about a certain routine when working from home.
This suddenly changed with the spread of the Coronavirus. Since a couple of weeks, I work exclusively from home and it’s unclear how much longer this new way of working is going to continue. Like so many others, I had to get used to the new circumstances first and then set up new routines that get me through the day. It hasn’t always been easy, but now I embrace the current situation to learn more about myself, my working habits and productivity.
Because this topic is relevant for so many people out there, I want to share my personal tips for working from home for lasting productivity and for keeping a healthy work life balance. I got so many questions regarding my new work place, so I’ve also linked all my WFH essentials in this article.
My tips for working from home to actually get things done
1. Get ready as if you are going to the office.
I know, for some people this might sound silly, because why even bother about your clothes, your hair and makeup when you’re not even leaving the house? For me, it really makes such a difference and helps me to get in the right mental state. When I’m doing work in my pyjamas, I’m honestly not mentally there. I need to feel like a real person working in a real office to be productive throughout the day. Putting on a little bit of makeup and my favourite clothes not only boosts my mood in the morning, but also makes me approach the day more ambitiously. So get up, get out of your PJs and put some pants on to start the day. Nice side effect: You are always ready for the next spontaneous video call.
2. Never ever work from your bed or your couch.
We’ve all been there: Checking mails in bed and working from the couch is pretty tempting when working from home. At least it’s way more comfy than sitting on a desk for 8 hours a day, right? If I could just give you one piece of advice, it would be this: Under no circumstances, work from your bed or your couch! When working remotely, it’s hard enough to separate work from your regular life because you relax and work in the same place. Working from bed makes it even worse: You completely lose boundaries between sleep, work and relaxation – it simply all blurs together. You start to feel like you are “always at work”, your brain gets confused, you will have trouble sleeping and your quality of relaxation will decrease. Better find a space in your home where you can get into the working mode, e. g. a desk or – if you don’t have a specific work place – your dining room table. This leads me to my next tip:
3. Have a designated work space.
I highly encourage you to create a distinct work space, where you have everything you need in order to keep your productivity high. This might be a designated desk or table or a specific area of your home. I have the luxury of having a separate room, where my working space is facing away from the rest of the flat. This way I don’t get distracted and am able to shut the door in case I need more silence. If you are working in the same room as your partner (like I do), make sure to agree upon your time schedules throughout the day. Thus, whenever possible l do video calls on my dining room table. It’s not only a compromise but also a nice change of location throughout the day.
When it was foreseeable that we would have to work from home for some time, I also wanted to create a workspace where I would love to spend my time. So without further ado we completely redesigned our office and adapted it to our individual needs. And what can I say? I love working from my new home office and that’s half the battle, isn’t it? Below, I’ve linked you all my WFH essentials:
4. Establish a daily routine.
When you start WFH, there’s the temptation to live life one day at a time. But actually it’s so crucial to have a daily routine that includes a fixed starting time, lunch break and a designated end to your work day. If you don’t structure your days, every single one turns into a blur and gets mentally very heavy. When starting to work from home, this was quite difficult for me to implement: In the mornings, I started at different times, I often worked through my lunch breaks and checked my mails even after calling it a day. You can guess the outcome: I wasn’t able to relax, was stressed out and overworked myself.
So make sure you set your boundaries and work the hours you normally would, set a designated time to start your work day and take proper breaks from work (without your laptop or phone). Get outside, open the window for some fresh air and include coffee breaks to your day. Otherwise, your are sitting non-stop and lose track of time – and that’s not good for your productivity either. At the end of a work day I now have a simple rule: Once my laptop is closed, I stop working, get into comfy clothes and do whatever helps me to relax and refresh for the next day – according to the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality.
5. Turn distractions off.
Working in an open-plan office can sometimes be overwhelming. So in the current situation I enjoy the peace and quiet I have at home. But let’s be honest: At home, there are also plenty of distractions that can disrupt your productivity – above all househould things, that jump into your vision throughout the day. My simple but effective tip: Clear away all the clutter in your home the night before, so you won’t get distracted during your work day. Thus, you also make sure you don’t do things you wouldn’t do at work. Postpone things like cleaning and laundry to the evenings to keep yourself in the mental work zone during the day.
Another tip that helps me to stay productive in general, is to clear my digital workspace, too. Quite often, I get stressed out by just looking at all the unused files and apps on my laptop. A clean digital and physical workspace always helps me to stay focused on what’s important during the day. Use whatever helps you to stay in the zone. May it be some background music, complete silence (for this, I recommend noise cancelling headphones) or your phone on airplane mode. Find out what works best for you!
6. Make a list of priorities.
I admit, I’m a huge advocate of lists and structure – especially in working life. So making a list of priorities is part of all my working days. This is something you probably do as well, no matter where you are working from. For me, there’s a simple power behind to do lists: It helps to clean out my brain, because no matter how small the task is, it’s getting written down. I then prioritise my to do’s and create an overview of the tasks I need to focus on. The best thing about it: You can cross out tasks on your list throughout the day and have that sense of accomplishment. This also helps you to end your working day even at home without further checking your mails and notifications. Important to keep in mind: You’re not going to get everything done. Lists are unending. This is why it’s so important to schedule the time for the tings you would like to get done on that day.
I hope these tips help you to stay productive even when working from home. Honestly, it’s a weird time we all have to get used to. So take it easy on yourself and try to make the best of the situation. In my opinion, it’s the perfect time to self reflect your ways of working and to implement new habits. How did your ways of working change during the Covid-19 pandemic and what are your personal tips for remote working you collected along the way? Leave me a comment here or on my latest Instagram post.
I hope your have a great workday today!
With much love,