How to Stay Sane and Productive While Working From Home: A Guide
If I had a nickel for every time, someone said, “weird times” this past week. I’d be …
We’re all being potentially thrown into an unfamiliar situation with working from home (WFH, in case you’ve seen this acronym floating around and were too afraid to ask what it means), increased isolation and potential sickness floating around, all while still trying to remain sane and productive. As much as we’d like to completely check-out, that to-do list isn’t going anywhere, and business is still happening.
Wondering how to make the best of this situation?
We compiled a checklist of tips and items to keep top of mind to make your (hopefully short) WFH experience less stressful.
Creating an Office Environment at Home
Your new office:
As you probably already guessed, having a separate space dedicated to focus on work will pay off. The distractions that come with working from the kitchen table, or worse, the living room couch with Netflix calling your name, are too much for even the full-time WFH-ers to avoid. By creating a work spot, it’s easier to slip into a familiar productive mindset vs. being distracted by the pile of dirty laundry urging you to clean it up.
Even better, stack the deck in your favor with a door that you can close. You get bonus points if you can position yourself close to a window to catch a few glances of the outside world.
Setting up your workstation:
Transporting your monitor and desktop to your house and expecting it to work just like it does at the office might be setting yourself up for a harsh reality. Check out this article from our friends at SafetyNet on how to move your machine the right way.
You’d be surprised at how much you take for granted the background hum associated with your usual office setting. Start by trying some focus-generating playlists from your favorite streaming services. Top of our list is the Spotify Brain Food or Lo-fi Beats playlist on YouTube that keeps distractions at a minimum.
Set a Schedule:
Make public and share the time you’ll be “in office” and available, both to your family and your colleagues, and communicate when you’re not. Public calendars can take the guesswork out of whether or not your coworker got that email.
Consider Daily Check-ins:
Just because you’re remote doesn’t mean that you can’t say hello. Over-communication is a myth, and connecting with your colleagues a few times during the day will help with the physical disconnect. We hear that virtual coffee chats and virtual lunches are the new big thing.
Take Healthy Breaks:
WFH can present some new unhealthy work practices. Make sure you still set a designated start and stop time for focused work. And take that walk around the block to refresh and get inspiration when staring at a computer screen isn’t proving to be productive. Research shows that even a 15-20-minute walk will stimulate your creative spark more than any amount of caffeine.
Video Conference Software:
We probably can’t stress enough that having some familiarity with a video conferencing service will be very important. It comes as no surprise that Google searches for Zoom Conference are only second to the coronavirus (COVID-19) itself.
Things to remember:
1. Good Lighting – Keep your computer camera at eye-level and be mindful of your background. We can’t save you from the Nickelback poster on your wall, but you can save yourself from grumbles from your colleagues.
2. Conference Etiquette – The same as if you were in person, be mindful of having applications open during a meeting. Make sure to mute yourself when in large meetings but keep the mute button off when in smaller brainstorming discussions.
3. Keep the Video On – Facial reactions to comments are social cues that we need during a conversation. Staring at a black screen can lead to some pretty awkward pauses.
We hope that using a chat software like Slack is second nature at this point. But for those less familiar, you’re going to need some way to communicate that’s quicker than email and more convenient than the phone. Think of all the times when just turning in your chair to ask a question works while in the office. Chat software keeps conversations moving.
Using a different machine at home might present some immediate roadblocks. Simple technology hiccups like not having login credentials can drive you insane. Trust us. Take a simple step to use a password manager to make your new logins a breeze. We find even the free version of LastPass works perfectly.
Remember, You’re Working From Home Just for Now
The best way to stay sane and productive while we’re all working from home is to remember that it’s just temporary! Most of us work better in an office environment and will return to normal life soon enough. At Oneupweb, we’re lucky to have a flexible work-from-home policy so we’re better prepared for this than most.
While you’re stuck, you’ll enjoy perusing our Knowledge Hub. Stay healthy!
Tips From Oneupweb on Working From Home
“My biggest tip for working from home is being flexible with your time. It’s easy to feel like you’re goofing off because you took the dog for a quick walk or chatted with your spouse for a few minutes. You’re spending time doing things like that at the office, too, so don’t stress about it at home.”
“I try to work from my desk – not the couch or my kitchen table. It helps me disconnect when I’m done working because I’m not associating my work to-do list with other places in my home. If you don’t have a desk / home office, designate one space for work and preserve the rest of your home for living!”
“I have to get dressed like I’m actually going into the office – it helps put me in a work mindset. If I were to stay in my pajamas, I’d just feel like laying on the couch all day.”
“It’s important for me to be available to my family when needed. With my kids I let them know up front that I am working from home and so I will have to be focused on my work, but if they need anything, they can ask me. Taking a brief moment to hear a story, solve a problem, or praise an accomplishment is something we do with our coworkers in the office all the time, so why not with my “little coworkers” at home?
Also, I announce specific moments like phone calls and meetings, so everyone knows I’ll need space for a little bit.”
“Pump up the jams or listen to background noise like rainforest sounds. It will make your home feel “busier” like an office.”