HOME SWEET OFFICE How to Boost Productivity While Working From Home
With the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, it’s unclear when many employees will be able to head back to their places of business and resume regular work again. Until then, many are working from home, possibly for the first time. In recent years, studies have shown that once proper practices are put in place, employees who work from home can get more done per day on average than those who work in an office atmosphere. But if you’ve never worked from home, how do you know where to start?
FIND SOME QUIET
This might seem obvious, but it’s so important that it’s worth detailing. Find the quietest room or corner of your home in which to set up your office space. While some people need background noise to work, most find that any noise at all can be incredibly distracting. Find a space that’s free of television, preferably has a door you can close, and isn’t shared with roommates, kids, or spouses. Fewer distractions naturally lead to more productivity.
KEEP A SCHEDULE
If you’re new to working from home, the change might feel so drastic that you don’t know how to start. That’s why it’s important to create a schedule or a to-do list for yourself, just as you would normally. Break your day down into small tasks that you know you’ll be able to complete. Work in planned breaks at designated times. Make your lunch ahead of time, just like you would if you were bringing it to the office. Start and end your work day at distinct times so your business and personal lives don’t warp together. Whether you work from home permanently or your situation is temporary, it pays to be prepared. Giving yourself a space to be productive is the first step in maintaining the routines that give our lives purpose. Don’t let the current state of the world steal that sense of comfort from you.
Studies have shown that workspaces with just a little bit of vegetation, like a potted plant or a vase of flowers, can boost productivity. Greenery creates visual variety when your eyes need a break from the screen, and its presence has been shown to improve mood and creativity. As an added bonus, it can even increase air quality in the room. If you don’t trust yourself to care for a plant, place your desk facing a window to reap the visual benefits of the outdoors.
Constantly swimming through piles of papers and supplies is an obvious delay to progress, so it’s important to recognize what you need and don’t need nearby. Keep important documents close but organize them using folders and store them in a designated corner. Having random items across your desk, like half-full cups of coffee or multiple pads of sticky notes, will distract you too. You don’t need to make your desk completely empty, but the fewer items on your workspace, the better.
This is a big one when it comes to productivity in an office environment, and it’s just as important at home. Take several short breaks and a longer one for lunch. Step away from your desk, give your eyes a break from screens (including your phone), and get moving with a short walk. Only take a break when it works well with your schedule and make sure you don’t lose track of time! It’s amazing how much productivity can soar after stepping away for even 10 short minutes.
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