3 Ways to Stay Productive While Working from Home
The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the world works, shops, eats, and spends time with family and friends. We’re spending more time online browsing and shopping, we’re ordering more takeout and delivery to keep our favorite restaurants running, and we’re homeschooling our children even as we work remotely. If you’ve been running your business from your home, the chances are you’ve encountered some distractions and obstacles along the way that challenge your productivity. If this is the case for you, there are a few things you can do that may help boost your productivity and stay on track while working from home.
1. Limit distractions.
As with any work environment, it’s difficult, and maybe even impossible, to completely eliminate all distractions in your home workspace. With the kids home from school, the cat walking all over your laptop, and the dog constantly begging for a walk, it can be difficult to tone out the noise and focus on the task at hand.
A good place to start is to simply let household members know that you’ll be working — not just when you receive an important call or have a video meeting. If possible, it may be a good idea to work in a more private area in your home to eliminate distractions as much as possible and create a quiet and peaceful environment for you to get some work done. Of course, this isn’t always possible for everyone. If needed, you could also institute “quiet times” in your home, where you can try to schedule all important calls and meetings within that time frame, with the understanding among your household members being that you’ll need limited distractions during this window of time.
2. Stay consistent.
Being out of your normal work routine and schedule can harm your productivity and throw off your creativity. While working from home, try to keep as much about your daily office routine the same as possible, like keeping 2pm snack breaks or 9am coffee runs part of your daily schedule at home. If you and your employees have pre-scheduled meetings every week or month, be sure to continue these virtually! Remaining consistent will help you stay in “work mode” and separate your home life from your work life.
Don’t forget to take breaks! Even though you’re working from home, it’s still important to take a lunch break to recharge your mind to prepare you for the rest of your day. Get takeout or delivery or make your favorite lunch at home, and spend your allotted break time relaxing! If you typically eat lunch in the break room with a regular group of people, try eating lunch together virtually on Google Hangouts or Zoom to keep some of your normal routine a part of your work from home life.
3. Remain organized.
When you’re out of your regular work environment with limited supplies, it can be hard to keep up with your previous organization processes. However, it’s important to be sure that you’re maintaining the record-keeping and filing processes that are vital to your business operations. Look into secure online file storage programs, like Google Drive, or create a local drive on your password-protected work computer to store important documents, files, and contracts. If you’d like to continue keeping records on paper, be sure that you have file folders or even specific drawers dedicated to those files, and keep them as secure as you possibly can. If needed and appropriate for your business, you could even add a lock to these drawers to maintain security.
Apart from securing your files while working from home, make sure you also stay organized with digital calendars, to-do lists, and even project management tools to ensure you’re working as productively as possible. It’s easy to forget to add calls to your calendar, pre-schedule Zoom meetings, or add a quick task to your to-do list. Having these programs up and visible on your computer will remind you to keep a note of it, and will also help you to not forget them if something else more urgent or pressing comes up. Calendars are available natively in many email platforms, like Google and Outlook, and there are multitudes of online to-do list apps available to keep you organized. Find what works best for you and stay consistent!
Running your business from home can present unusual challenges for startup and small business owners, coupled with the uncertainty that the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic brings to both our nation and our world. It can be difficult to remain as productive as you would in an office environment — however, there are measures you can take to increase your productivity at home, like keeping your schedule consistent, finding a way to make your work area as quiet and private as possible, and keeping your files organized. By developing a work from home strategy that works best for you and your household, you’ll be able to stay as productive and organized as you would in the office!