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3 simple tips to get better at working from home

jackmarchant profile image Jack Marchant ・3 min read

Working from home has been thrust upon those lucky enough to still have a job. Many aren’t sure how to cope, some are trying to find ways to help them through the day. Make no mistake, this is not a normal remote working environment we find ourselves in, but nonetheless we should find ways to embrace it.

These three tips will help you get the most out of yourself in productivity, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance (in whatever way possible in our current circumstances).

I have worked from home regularly for a number of years, however it’s only since it became a full-time situation that I put these tips into practice and it has helped maintain my sanity, if nothing else.

Set a start and end time

There’s no better feeling than clocking off at the end of a work day and while we probably don't have much more than a bit of exercise to look forward to, having a set time that you finish up work and check out for the day means you brain can adjust and get into the habit of switching off.

Especially now as we’re confined to our homes, it’s important to distinguish a time when you’re not “at work”.

Equally, starting work at a predictable time gives your brain a chance to clock on to work mode and focus. I have fallen into the trap of not having set a time to start, only to watch the clock fly by without getting anything meaningful done.

It’s easy to say, much harder to do and continue doing, but just like anything else, practice makes perfect. I set specific times that I must start and finish by, and I try to be realistic with those times.

Have a break (particularly lunch)

Just as important as setting times to start and end your day, it is worth your time to take a short break from your work to eat and drink.
Sometimes when you’re in the zone you forget about taking a break and you realise 3 or 4 hours have gone by without you leaving your seat.

A lunch break is like rebooting yourself (much like your computer). Your mind has probably been running around all morning and has a thousand things to think through. Taking time to step away from your workspace gives you the control to regain focus on what can be done in the afternoon.

I find that taking short, frequent breaks is beneficial to my own productivity and helps me to finish tasks more easily. It’s difficult for me to switch between different things, but when I finish something, I walk away and come back ready to go on the next thing.

Dedicate one room to being your workspace

A workspace has to feel comfortable and suited to your individual needs. If you can, it’s ideal to have a single room you can make your own so that when you’re in this room, it’s work time and perhaps more importantly, when you’re not in this room, work time is over.

Being able to leave a work environment makes it easy to separate work from the rest of the day. It also comes in handy when you’re on a video call and need to shut off the rest of your home from whatever noises may occur. This "home-office" also gives the people you live with the indication that you're working, meaning you may not want to be interrupted.

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These little tips can make a big difference in your own wellbeing and productivity while working from home. I have become stricter with these boundaries as I’ve made the transition to doing it full-time and I’m so glad that I did because it has allowed me to get the best out of myself at work, while still being myself at home.

There are loads of great resources out there to help you with working from home, here are a few that I have found useful:

Originally published at jackmarchant.com

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Jack Marchant

@jackmarchant

I'm a Software Engineer who writes about writing code.

Discussion

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I'm going on week 5 of WFH and I'm still getting used to (read: "still not") taking regular breaks. I don't mind if I'm getting caught in the zone and I'm productive, but the minute I get kicked out of it I need to get up and stretch my legs. It's different when I don't have the water cooler at the other end of the office.

 

It’s really hard to do without having a physical cue like someone approaching your desk, but the water cooler you could replace with grabbing a drink from the fridge, filling up your water bottle as you might do.

 

I need a smaller water bottle 😅