For many of us, working from home has become the new normal.
Whether you're working for yourself or for an employer, there are specific strategies that we can implement to improve our productivity at home without sacrificing our wellbeing.
If you're finding that your work/life balance is a little lacking or if you're struggling with motivation, these tips are sure to help you out!
#1: Create an Inviting Space
If you haven't yet already done this, consider creating a designated space for work-specific activities.
Make this space your own by incorporating some of your favorite things that you love to look at or that add a bit of interest to your space such as color, artwork or décor.
Don't underestimate good lighting and an ergonomic chair and desk.
Invest in a good quality desk chair and task lighting to reduce the strain on both your back and eyes which can both help at reducing fatigue during the day.
While I'm a bit biased, playful stationery always makes work a little more fun.
There are tons of options available online ––from novelties to the classics.
If you're missing out on the outdoors, consider positioning your desk near a window or bring the outdoors in by setting up a vase of fresh cut blooms or a cheery succulent for added Zen.
Lastly, as a pet owner, I have a little nook set up for my dogs to lounge beside me. Bonus: They'll never hesitate to let you know when it's time to get up for a break!
#2: Establish a Routine (and take breaks!)
Flexibility is awesome, don't get me wrong. Nothing is quite as empowering as having the ability to create your own schedule and work at your own pace.
Unfortunately, what we often forget amidst this new level of flexibility is how important structure is to our overall productivity. Without this structure, our brains are in a constant state of "work", even during the most mundane daily tasks. This in turn increases fatigue, decreases willpower and leads to more overall stress throughout the day.
So how can we give our brain a break and feel more up to the tasks the matter? Try creating a set routines and habits (think Morning, Afternoon and Evening) in an effort preserve your energy as you process predictable workflows. Don't forget to add breaks into your routine. Taking several short breaks throughout your work day is like hitting the "refresh" button. It might feel like an interruption, but it actually helps boost your overall performance.
PS: If you're looking to add another book to your reading list, check out 'The Power of Habit' by Charles Duhigg or google "Habit Loops" and how they improve our overall productivity without sacrificing more energy.
#3: Log your Time
This is my go-to recommendation for anyone looking to discover where each hour goes in their day.
You may think you have an idea, but I promise that you'll uncover some unexpected time and energy suckers by keeping a time log for just one week!
Whether you're using an app or a pen and a notebook, time logs are helpful in visualizing where the bulk of your time is being spent (here's looking at you, Instagram!), identifying any opportunities to optimize certain tasks so that you can operate more efficiently (thus preserving your energy) and it also helps in accounting (and billing) for your time at work.
#4: Set Boundaries
Relating to creating an inviting and productive workspace, if you have a spare room, use it!
Whether it be a home office or a den, utilizing a spare room for work-specific activities will help establish clear boundaries between your work and personal life.
If you are limited on space, try consolidating your work and store it away discreetly at the end of the day.
This ensures that you aren't reminded of the stuff that still needs to be done and allows you to thoroughly unwind. Another boundary-preserving technique is to create a weekend or evening auto-reply for your email (Outlook or Boomerang for Gmail are great for this!) as well as creating a DND (do not disturb) schedule on your phone. At the end of the day ––it's you-time! Enjoy it unapologetically.
#5: Utilize a Schedule and Review Your Progress
Relating to both routines & time logs, a daily agenda can help you immensely when it comes to keeping organized. If you're not yet familiar with the origin story of The Collected Planner, it began with discovering just how helpful a daily and weekly planner can be when working from home.
The right planner helps enforce boundaries and also significantly decreases the feeling of being overworked and overwhelmed when working from home.
A huge overwhelm-buster is taking the time to plan your week ahead and sticking to that plan in addition to creating weekly habits to review your progress mid-week (I prefer Wednesday afternoons) and at the end of each day and week while migrating (rescheduling) any outstanding tasks (I like to do this at the end of each work day and on Friday afternoons).
Think of your planner as your "home base" for all work-related obligations and reminders. It helps to keep all of your important to-do's and plans Collected in one place!