It has been over a year of conducting much — if not most — of our lives from home. Some have discovered working from home works very well for them. Many of us have noticed our boosted productivity, increased free time with our commutes removed, and a happy work/home life balance. In time, however, even with good habits established, we can fall into ruts. Given that the past year has been tumultuous, to say the least, a refresher in maximizing the work from home benefits seems a good topic!
Tip One: Getting A Jump Start
First things first. Get a jump start. Perk up your morning routine, taking advantage of daylight savings time to maybe get up a few minutes “earlier.” Studies consistently show that people who rise early and have a morning routine live happier and more productive lives. That can be you! A quick walk with a pet (Bocephus’ dedication is legendary), whipping up a quick healthy breakfast, or simply sitting outside and taking in some deep breaths will get your mind and body in a good place to seize the day.
Pick something realistic that you can do every day and make it your new healthy habit.
Tip Two: Re-examine Your Schedule
Take a second look at that schedule you made a year ago. If you didn’t write it down somewhere, write it down now. Maybe part of that schedule didn’t work, or perhaps you haven’t been working it. Make adjustments accordingly, whether to your actions or to the schedule itself. Keep a positive mindset when you’re examining the schedule and how it’s held up. This is an opportunity to assess and do even better.
Tip Three: It’s Spring Cleaning Time
Give that home office a good spring cleaning. De-cluttering is a time-honored spring tradition and now is the perfect time to remove distractions from your office. Maybe you can even move some furniture around for a nice reset and greater efficiency. Little changes can have a big impact, so consider things like maximizing lighting and minimizing interruptions (e.g., printer placed where you don’t need to leave the room to grab things). If you are sharing space with, say, a furry co-worker, make sure they are occupied so they won’t pester you throughout the day.
Tip Four: Take A Break!
Break for your health! Break for a million reasons, really. Slumping at your desk all day will make you irritable and cramped. Just as you would in the office, take little “water cooler” breaks. Give your back and hips a quick stretch, re-hydrate, fix a little snack, do something you can do quickly which takes you away from work for a few minutes. Breaks boost your mood and productivity.
Tip Five: Keep Work Separate
Keep a separate work number. Personal and work time are easily blended when your cell gets involved, so keep it separate. Your work laptop connected to the office phone system, or free services like Skype should be your office line; your cell phone should be your own. This is a little thing that makes a big difference in a good work/home life balance even when working from home.
Tip Six: Keep Your Connections Alive
Reconnect with colleagues and keep building camaraderie. This is your support system and you’ve been working together apart for a whole year, so encourage each other with messaging apps, that work line mentioned before, and the like. This is also a great moment to step back and examine which modes of communication are working best to keep everyone in the loop on tasks and projects. Are messages overlooked in email but not so much in messages? Make note of which tools work best so you can communicate and collaborate more effectively!
Tip Seven: Check The Attitude
How’s your attitude holding up? Are you sliding into negative thought patterns? Sometimes an act like cleaning can have a nice psychological boost. Purging is good for the soul! Do the same with your attitude, banishing unnecessary self-critiques or unrealistic expectations. From there, take stock of your (and your team’s) strengths and professional successes of the past year. Making a mental note of what you all did well boosts your confidence. Making note of how you accomplished those things sets you up for continued, and maybe greater, success. Honest assessment is key.
Tip Eight: Remember The Good
Take stock of the advantages you’ve noticed since you started working from home. Extra free time is one of the best bonuses a person can get! That’s time with your family or a cherished hobby, time to try something new, or do whatever you want. Taking advantage of, well, the advantages, will make you a happier person. This will also spill over into your work, because as mentioned in 7, a good attitude makes you a better worker.
Tip Nine: Shake It Up
Start or shake up an end-of-day routine. How you close your day has an impact on your evening, your sleep, and your tomorrow! Design a ritual that helps you relax and leave work behind. Clock out and get outside for a walk or a run before dinner, sit in a comfy chair with a good book, try yoga! You get the idea – a definite “work is done – me time” ritual. Remember when you were a kid, homework finished, and you got to go outside and ride your bike or some similar beloved activity? Treat this end-of-day routine like that. Make it something you enjoy that starts your evening on a calm and happy note.
Whether you’re working from home full time or you’re in a hybrid schedule of home/office, take advantage of the work from home benefits! It seems crazy to think we may have somehow stopped taking advantage of the perks to this situation, but we’re human and have a real knack for not making the most of things. Peruse this list and maybe other spring lists for ideas and break out of your remote rut. With summer just around the corner, this is the perfect time to find ways to work more efficiently and free up more time.
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