I’ve been getting requests from co-workers and peers in information technology to share my personal work from home habits. I thought I would put together a quick list of my top ten habits for working from home during COVID-19.
Pick a Space for Work
This one sounds simple but it can be complex. I find a lot of people with their iPad and laptops will work all over their home. For me, I built an office and put a desk with monitors in there. When I go into my office I treat it as if I am physically at the office. When I am in my office it is time to work, not watch TV or surf twitter. For those people who do not have an office pick a room in the dwelling and label that your office and when you are in your “office” it is time to work.
This one is important because sometimes I have to get up and clear my head. These breaks are typically 15 minutes every other hour to every three hours. I set a timer on my phone and when it goes off I stop what I am doing and get up and walk, listen to music, sit on the back patio, or something to clear my head. When my timer goes off I wrap up what I am doing and break. Otherwise, you could end up sitting at your desk for endless hours and it will turn counterproductive. FYI; these breaks shouldn’t be for hours because work still needs to get done.
To Do List
Everyone has active tasks as part of their day to day job. It helps me to keep a running list of these items and plan out my week. I leverage my calendar to keep track of time I schedule for each task. My keep this degree of organization it gives me purpose for tomorrow and doesn’t allow anything to fall through the cracks. This is also a great way to create a 3-5 list. Three things you plan to work on next week and five things you accomplished this week.
Learning & / or Career Development
Think about how many hours you spend a day driving to work and coming home from work. Think about how many hours a week you spend on lunch breaks. If you add that up then like me you now have potentially 15+ extra hours a week freed up from working from home that would otherwise be spent on auxiliary tasks associated with going into an office. Leverage these hours to focus on new training to improve at your job, obtain a new certification, development a new skill, or anything that will make you more profitable.
Be You Most Productive Self
I find if I begin my day by waking early and running my treadmill is when I am at my best and most energized. Following my morning run is when I go into my office and begin my work day. Later in the day when I notice I am beginning to tire as anyone who begins their day early will. I will have myself a 15-30 minute power nap and awake recharged. Following my nap I will log back into work and pick up where I left off. Everyone is different, maybe your best is after a morning coffee, an evening workout, listening to pump up music or something else. Find out when you are at your best and begin your work day at that point and come out of the gate strong.
I meal prep for the entire week every Sunday. I understand this is extreme for some so meal prep the night before. It is tempting every day to spend cycles preparing food and spending energy on these tasks. However, if you perform meal prep the night before it is easy and requires less energy to warm up your food. Plus, you will also allow yourself to schedule out your meals knowing how long it will take to prepare and return to your desk.
Learn to Unplug
This one is difficult for me because during these trying times it feels like there is more work than hours to get it done. You have to pick a time when you will call it a work day and end the day. If you don’t learn to unplug from work and call it a day your right hour work days will easily become twelve or fifteen hours. Those extra adds up and take their toll and after a couple weeks you will be burnt out.
Ignore Household Chores
Working from home it gets easy to want to tackle dirty dishes that are stacking up, dusting, sweeping, and cleaning so it is one less thing to do in the evening after work. However, that is a distraction you can tend to later after work is done. The less distractions from the household items the more you can focus on work so you don’t feel like you don’t have enough time to get work items done. FYI; I’m not saying to become a messy person and allow your home to become a wreck. There is a difference between rinsing a dish to wash later and doing a full load of dishes.
Dress for the Day
This can vary depending on the person. If you think you need to the psychological trigger of dressing up for work while at home to be your most productive, then dress up. My personal habit is the more comfortable I am the more productive I am. I can wear sweats or a hoodie and be more productive than if I wore slacks and a polo. I also acknowledge there are those that if they wear sweats then they will have less energy and take more breaks in a day.
Acknowledge the Home will be Crazy
In my house I have a toddler, wife, and two dogs. It can get loud and asking your child to be quiet while daddy is on a con call is laughable. I have acknowledged that at times my home will get loud which will make reading emails, taking calls, training, and other items challenging. Once you accept that the noise level in your home is out of your control it will hopefully allow you to not get frustrated when the volume level goes up. If you have an important call that day try and schedule two places in your home you can take it from in case option 1 has a child painting while singing.
These are just 10 personal habits of mine. Some people may only need two or three and others may need thirty or fifty habits. It varies from individual to individual. Who knows you better than you do. The goal is to just take some self-reflection time, understand what best suits you and begin to organize your day and week by that understanding. As always, I hope this help y’all.