In a few short weeks, the global coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, including the way we work. We’ve gone from early morning alarm clocks, hectic commutes, and bustling offices, to sleeping in, conference calls in sweatpants, and homeschooling our children on the side. With all of this routine upheaval, it can be hard to get much work done, or even find the mindset to stay motivated. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and thankfully the world of remote work isn’t new. We’ve put together this guide to working from home in 2020 to help you stay productive, motivated, and successful during these challenging times.
Develop a Routine or Schedule and Stick to it
Whether we know it or not, we need boundaries, routines, and structure to be successful. We need to know what our day looks like and then tackle it in bite-sized pieces. Maybe you’re used to starting the day with 30 minutes of email checking, then a meeting, then 2 hours on a big project, then lunch. This type of schedule lets us feel comforted by knowing what’s coming next, so we can stay focused on what’s in front of us. It also allows for breaks to look forward to in order to switch gears.
It’s a simple thing in theory but creating a work routine at home is not as easy as it seems without a little help. Using a productivity app like Todoist or Asana can help you create tasks, set times and dates, and track progress throughout the week. They’re fun and easy to use and offer free versions so you can get started right away. Set recurring tasks that block out time for things like email, and important projects. Leave time for breaks and lunch, and then add in things like walks, exercise, homeschooling lessons and more. You’ll find that in just a few days, you’ll become a productivity machine.
If you have children, it’s important to apply this to their day as well. For older children, you can simply add the same apps to their phones. For younger children, placing a written schedule on the refrigerator that they can track their day on creates the same type of structure they’re used to at school.
Create a Home Office or Workspace
Anyone that worked from home before the pandemic will tell you that creating a defined workspace is key to being successful remotely. Working from your bed or the couch might seem like the easy way to go, but for efficiency, mindset, and ergonomics, it’s not a good long-term approach.
Creating a home office doesn’t have to be expensive or labor intensive, but it will pay dividends in your work performance, and physical and mental health. Here are some ways you can create a functional home office right now.
DIY Home-Office Desk
You don’t have to break the bank to create a home-office desk in minutes. In fact, with just two items from your local Lowes or Home Depot (or most hardware stores) you can create a streamlined, industrial-looking desk for under $100.
Pick up a two-pack of plastic saw horses like these from Lowes. They’re durable, with a 1000-pound capacity, yet lightweight. Then choose a six- or eight-foot pine board like this to use as the desktop. Find one with the length and width dimensions that work for you and your space. Keep in mind that the sawhorse legs spread out to support the weight, so you’ll need a little extra length to fit your desk chair.
Other items that will help keep you focused and on task include:
If you’re used to reading the morning news with a cup of coffee, do it. If you listen to a podcast during your commute, listen to it during a morning run. Get dressed for the day instead of wearing sweatpants. The more you’re able to maintain consistency of your normal work schedule, the easier it will be to transition back once it’s safe to do so. Remember this is temporary so try not to form bad habits.
Being successful while working at home begins and ends with you. It’s important to understand that only you know what truly motivates you and also what distracts you. Your managers are going through their own challenges and likely only checking in every few days. Now is the time to show your employer your true potential.