Working from home can be great for productivity. You don’t have to deal with traffic. Healthy food, outdoor space and other comforts are close by.
Many people, including the author of this New York Times article, note this rise in productivity, particularly for workers without children. Being removed from the daily distractions of office life has its benefits, after all. But even if we are productive, that doesn’t always mean we’re content.
If loneliness was a growing problem before the pandemic, now it could mean burnout from all the productivity with none of the engagement. If you’re working from home for the long haul, you should take proactive steps to up your productivity and improve your state of mind.
As many of us continue to work virtually, it’ll become more and more important that we’re intentional with how we approach our work. If you’re finding that your current work routine and space isn’t as fulfilling as you would like, it might be time to try something new—or in some cases, something old. Here are the ten rules we try to follow that keeps us both productive and happy.
Make an Encouraging Workspace
Different office environments have different impacts on morale. There’s no reason to believe that your home office doesn’t have the same impact. Set yourself up for success by choosing a spot with good lighting that you can easily keep clean and try to pick a quiet room or invest in noise-cancelling headphones.
Prioritize Your ONE Thing
What is the ONE Thing you can do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary? Often, it’s the hardest thing, but that’s what makes it the most important. Psychology Today says that if you can accomplish the task that intimidates you the most, you’ll feel empowered to move on to everything else.
Just because something is difficult to achieve, doesn’t mean you have to take the most difficult path toward achieving it. Your brain will feel less overwhelmed by your big goals if you break them down into small steps. Be as granular as possible so that you can still make progress (and feel good about it) when obligations at home take your attention away from work.
Build Habits, Not Willpower
Willpower is a limited resource. If you try to force yourself to accomplish something big when your brain and body aren’t interested, you’ll burn out. In contrast, if you practice a small, manageable behavior for 66 days, it will become a habit that you’ll default to when life at home is unpredictable from one day to the next.
Make Multitasking Your Enemy
It’s impossible to do two things at once. When you give yourself permission to focus on one task at a time, you can get that one task done more quickly than if you also tried to do three other things alongside it. This is important to remember when you’re tempted to do housework and business work at the same time.
Learn to Counterbalance
Prioritize what matters most, whether it’s personal or work-related. If there’s a pressing issue in your family, give it the attention it needs, then counterbalance to focus on work in turn. When your attention isn’t divided, you’ll do better at both.
One of the benefits of being home is that you can get more done…at home. The psychology behind frequent breaks is well-suited to a home environment that periodically needs your full attention for kids, cooking, laundry or even just watering the plants.
Make Home Life a Reward
Coupled with the importance of a good work space is the importance of a good living space. When possible, make your living areas a retreat from the areas where you work. Start your day with your favorite coffee in the kitchen or end it sitting on your patio. Even though you’re working from home, home doesn’t need to be work.
Stay in Touch with Your Team
One of the key ways to combat isolation is to stay in touch with your team. Spearhead consistent meetings, both for work and for fun, to help employees feel connected to what’s going on. When possible, organize socially-distanced meetups to reinforce that the team are still in this together.
Keep Track of Progress
It’s easy for your achievements to get lost in the responsibilities of home life and the distance of digital work, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t accomplished anything. Keep track of your wins as well as your goals and share them with your team and your family on a regular basis.
Working from home is easier (and more productive) for some people than for others, but we can all set ourselves up for success. For encouragement and new suggestions for a stellar work-at-home life, join our ONE Thing community.