Due to Covid-19, we have found ourselves in unusual circumstances and situations. We are now trying to stay alive by social distancing, washing our hands, wearing masks, and avoiding any physical contact. Most of us have even found ourselves working from home. Something we never thought we’d ever do. So how is it taking you? Is it strange, weird, hard, and tiresome? Is it fun, simple, easy? Well, if you have never worked from home, things can be challenging and it might take you a quick minute before you get the hang of it.
Over the years, I have found myself working a lot from home and have somewhat perfected my own routine on how to work effectively and be productive. Here’s how;
Have a positive mindset
We are currently going through tough uncertain times and as a friend always tells me, we all have low-key anxiety. We do not know what tomorrow holds but all we can do is keep the faith and be positive that all will work out okay. Positivity, in all aspects of our lives, is important.
Having a positive mindset will help you easily get into the reality of working from home. Remember that your professionalism needs not die because of your environment. It should cut across everywhere whether you are in the office or not. When you wake up and will yourself to be positive, then things tend to be easy for you. When you wake up and look at the whole situation in a negative way, your productivity levels will be low. Your attitude and morale play a huge role for you to be able to work from home.
You can boost your positivity and morale by listening to some encouraging music, exercising to get you pumped up, praying, dancing, etc to get you going. Being happy also plays a role in your positivity mindset. Strive to be!
Choose where you will concentrate best
The house has a lot of distractions ranging from members of the family especially kids, the TV, the bed, the fridge, etc. So how best do you find a cool, quiet place to work from? If you do not have an office or a workspace in your home, check out the best room to work from and set it up. You can work from any room in the house as long as it has zero or very minimal distractions and temptations. If you are disciplined, single or don’t have kids, it is easy for you to work in the living room, on the dining table, or couch where you can switch off all electronics or just have some soft background music and work. If you have kids, you can work from the bedroom, a balcony if it has no distracting view or noise, or outside in a garden or backyard if it is cool and quiet.
I use my bedroom as my work office. I start my day at 9am and end it at 5am or thereabouts. For this to happen, I made a schedule with my house manager where all house chores are done by 9am. Previously during school days, I would wake up to prepare my son for school and after he left I would take care of other things like breakfast and spend time with my daughter. (Oooh, it is during this time that whenever I was ready to go to the bedroom to work, I would actually pretend to leave so that my daughter thought I was gone, then my housie would zubaisha her nahuko nyuma kwa balcony then I’d quietly get back in the house and dash to the bedroom and lock myself inside. Hehe) Nowadays, she is grown and understands that mama has to go to the bedroom so I don’t have to do that anymore.
Currently, we wake up at around seven, during that time, my housie is almost done with most chores. After breakfast, we sit down and do homework with my son on google classroom, something he is really enjoying coz he doesn’t have to write on a book anymore. hehe. Then at nine, sometimes later, I am off to the bedroom. During this time, my SO is also through with either getting ready to leave for work, or if he is working from home, he joins me in the bedroom and might I add that it was very difficult to begin with, 😉😉, but now we have found a good rhythm to work without distracting ourselves.
Schedule your work
It is important to schedule your work, just like in your actual office. This gives you discipline and routine. A work schedule will help you accomplish your work more easily and effectively. If you are single or dating or married without kids, then it is easy to schedule your work since you do not have to worry about tiny humans. You can plan when to work and how to work.
If you have kids and have a housie, then let them know it is business as usual. Set out a routine where you can all adapt to and stick to it. If you are parents with kids without a house manager, you can schedule your work where during morning hours, one parent can look after the kids while the other works then in the afternoon the other parent takes over. If you are a single parent, and have smaller kids especially, you can try to figure out a routine that is less distractive, and although tough, work around your child’s routine or during the night when they are asleep.
Scheduling your work also involves the time frame in which to work. I work in bits of one hour or 90 minutes. That means I will work for one hour straight before thinking of something else. Then I can take a few minutes break then get back to work. This is important because you are working in a new environment and need to adjust. Soon enough you will be able to work for longer hours without breaks if the environment is right.
Set the mood and get ready for work
So now that you have already identified your workspace and set up a schedule for you or your family, it’s time to get working. One thing I learned the hard way is that if you don’t set the mood for work, you will not be productive. Try not to work in the same clothes you woke up in. Your workspace should also be clean and neat as you embark on this process.
Since I work in my bedroom, I started off on the bed where if I left the bed unmade, and still had my pajamas on, I would find myself right back in it and end up sleeping making me unproductive. Soon enough, I realized that it is important to have discipline and self-control and take my work seriously.
So when you work from home, it is advisable to take a shower when you get up and wear different clothes, not necessarily official wear; just something different to get your mind in the work mood. Smell and look good just to put you in the work-mode headspace. Being fresh goes a long way in your productivity. I mean, I don’t think you head to work without taking a shower and looking your best on normal days, do you? But if you are able to work without getting your head in the work mood, then rock on!
Ensure that your workspace is clean, cool, and fresh just like the office. If you work in the bedroom, make your bed and make it neat or avoid it completely if you have a desk and chair. If working from your sitting room, dining area, your balcony, or outside, ensure it is clutter-free and has minimal things that can easily distract you.
Say no to temptations and distractions
Folks, this is the hard part! Avoiding distractions and temptations! It is difficult to work from home because of a million and one things that can tempt and distract you. You might be working on your laptop and you remember you need to catch up with the latest music, movies, and TV shows, etc. and end up binge-watching things and before you know it, the day is over! I am a culprit when it comes to this. It takes a lot of willpower to avoid temptations. If you are working online on your computer, close all unnecessary tabs and leave only the ones needed to work.
Do not be tempted to go hang out with your partner or kids in the other room. Do not be tempted to go try out a new recipe in the kitchen or go out to the parking and see how your car ‘is doing’. Do not leave your work and go chill in the balcony and start chatting with neighbors.
And the worst, your phone! You can put your phone on silent mode and keep it away, then work for maybe 90 minutes straight without looking at it. Avoid calling or picking up phone calls that are not work-related. Avoid social media at all costs until your break time or when through with work. The moment you indulge in social media, and you are not holding yourself accountable since your boss is not around, it is hard to get back to your work. Discipline and accountability will go a long way in this.
For outside noise that you have no control over, e.g. kids playing and screaming in the neighborhood, cars hooting and blaring on the roads, etc., teach your brain to drown out the noise. Soon enough, you will learn to live and work without ‘hearing’ any outside noise.
Let your family members know that you have to work
Let your parents, children, boy/girlfriend, spouse, etc. know that you have to work and you need their support and cooperation. When you let them know that you have to work and show how important it is for you, it becomes easier because no one will want to distract you. Respect for each other’s work and space goes a long way in your productivity at home.
Clearly state that unless it’s urgent or very important, it can wait! During your lunch break, you can check on them and get back to work.
Consider working at night
Above all this, if you can work at night, I highly recommend it. This is because there are minimal distractions, especially with noise. Everyone is asleep around you and you can think more clearly and do a lot more.
I work at night when need be and it is the best time to work. If you can avoid the bedroom, please do so. You will easily get distracted because those around you are asleep and your mind can play tricks on you and convince you to sleep too. Everything applies for night time too. Take a shower when you are just about to start working so that you are fresh to begin. Avoid distractions and have a schedule.
All in all, working from home is something we have to get used to if we want to be productive and also keep our jobs. Hehe. Remember to stay positive, have a schedule, be disciplined, and have self-control. Once you get the hang of ‘working from home’ it becomes pretty easy to do!!
Do not forget to take some time off during the day to just go outside of the house and chill, relax, take a walk, exercise, or do a short drive to the store. Getting out of the home environment will help you feel recharged, help in your physical and emotional well-being, and is an excellent way to end your day.
What are some of your working from home experiences? Do share! Cheers!