2020 has just started a couple of months ago, yet we are found in the difficult situation of dealing with the coronavirus - leading many companies to enlist remote work policies. While it is manageable for healthy people in the peak of their strength, we all have loved ones who do not fit this profile.
I happen to work for a software company developing healthcare apps along with technology that assists other sectors such as finance and aviation.
Luckily for those like me who have the opportunity and ability to work from home in events such as this. Now, I am not someone who has the credentials to speak on behalf of health organizations or give advice as to what should be done in the situation to maintain your health.
I am, however, someone who has been working both from the office and from home for a while. So I can offer you some practical advice on how to get your work done while you are taking care of your health.
The biggest issue with home office is the number of distractions and temptations you are exposed to. Your TV, Laptop, Netflix, pets, the dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry you have been putting off etc. I can only speak for myself, but I have a fairly hard time getting into “work mode” when I have all of my usual housework staring at my face.
The other big potential risk with working from the comfort of your own home is just that: getting too comfortable. I have, over the years, separated work from home. Home is comfort, rest and chores. Work is focused and dedicatedly productive.
All that being said I have several ways I have been able to manage those distractions.
Sounds counterintuitive right? Your goal is to set up and get to work to take care of your assignments, so why would you start with the household work. As I said, having the nagging feeling at the back of my head doesn’t let me focus on my work. And in all honesty, if done often house chores shouldn’t take more than 30 min of your time - at least the most pressing ones like dishes, laundry or tidying up. Especially with the added bonus of having the machines do their job while you are doing yours.
Get a bottle of water, make yourself coffee or tea. Grab everything you need to work from your PC setup to notepads pens markers. Whatever it is that you use when you work, make sure you have it beforehand. Go to the bathroom, stretch out. Do all of the things that will get you to get up and interrupt your work.
Unless being available on the phone at all times is a part of your job or you have an emergency that requires your attention you should get rid of your phone while working. Warn the people who contact you the most you will be busy for a while if you need to. Or if you want to still be reachable if there is something ask them to only call if there is an emergency. Then turn off your notifications for texts, apps etc.
I am aware of how uncomfortable you may feel with your phone out of reach, especially if you grew up with tech as a vital part of your life as I did. But this is the best way for you to be able to get your assignments done. And once you get used to working without interruption you will appreciate it and find just how quickly you can get through your work as long as you are focused.
Personally, it is easy to go into rest mode when at home. Either watching some show I like or painting or as silly as petting my cat for thirty minutes. My point is that I have associated the space I live in as the one where I can let loose and relax. And that is great - exactly what home should be. But the first couple of days I worked from home I easily lost track of time and realised I hadn’t started working at 3 pm, leading me to have to work as late as 12 am.
Not to be grim, but if the pandemic spreads more you may have to set up a workspace in your home you can work comfortably from for extended periods of time. So depending on your living space, make arrangements that give you separation between work and rest. Buy a desk, if you can dedicate a room to it, if not, then a corner will do. Make sure to only use this space when you are working focused. Trust me you will enjoy working from it for years once you dedicate some effort.
I realize not everyone approaches work this way. But I have found that taking me to-do list out of my head and on paper gives me several benefits. The biggest one is peace of mind - I used to constantly remind myself that there is something I need to get done.
Ironically, at the same time, I would constantly forget something important. Now I have a weekly to-do list that always has more room to add in tasks as the weak goes. I also have a daily to-do list that allows me to distribute my workload evenly throughout the week. This is true both for working from home and at the office but I believe it is a great way to limit distractions in any case.
All of my tips are based on my work’s requirements and my personal preferences - this is what I found that works best for me. Try some of them as a base and then customize them to fit your own work. And your own preferences. Some people, for example, prefer to work on the couch rather than a dedicated desk. Others prefer digital organizers and lists to the old fashioned planning journal.
Experiment, optimize and stick to practices that work for your process and extract the best results. I hope this was helpful! If you have any other suggestions on how to crush your workload while being quarantined at home share them in the discussion for everyone to see!
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