Someone once told me that working from home is both the best and worst of both worlds. When my kids were little, I agreed completely. Instead of getting into my nice clean office, I was in the middle of happy kid chaos! I loved being with my happy kids. I hated the chaos. Getting work done, feeling isolated from others, and seeing laundry, dishes or dust was a surefire way to maximize my stress.
After working from home for the past five years and coaching many people who work from home as well, I have learned a few tricks that might make your days easier, happier and more productive.
- Separate – physically and mentally – work life from home life: Find a quiet spot and remove anything that might distract you. That includes games on your phone, anything that might tempt you to clean (it takes a LOT to tempt me to clean, but…), whatever.
- Set a schedule and get working: Studies have proven that most of us experience peak productivity earlier in the day. Work on the hard stuff first – and commit to getting it done before you take a break or allow distractions.
- Create a GOLDEN HOUR: Did you know each time your email notification goes off, your functional IQ goes down 10 points? If you smoked weed, it would only go down four points. I’m not saying you should get high… but if you have a major project (whether you’re working from home or in the office), shut off your email for a little while.
- Take a BREAK: Actually, take several. Every hour or so, get up and walk around the house. Run up and down the stairs a few times. Whatever! Just get moving.
- Take a REAL LUNCH HOUR: This is essential. Studies have repeatedly shown that we are significantly less productive when we work through lunch. At the very least, take at least 30 minutes to do something that is not work related. Call a friend. Get outside.
- CALL instead of emailing and texting: We are all going to feel the pinch of social isolation while we’re practicing social distancing. And that means we’re going to be more likely to read a negative tone into other people’s emails and texts! Call instead. It’s friendly and there’s less chance of your intentions being misinterpreted.
- STOP multi-tasking: Our brains are designed to process ONE thing at a time. When we try doing too much, we are less productive… and we’re draining our energy.
- Smile, laugh and find some joy: Don’t be surprised if you’re feeling overwhelmed. We need to hear THREE positive things to counteract ONE negative one. Actively seek out humor. Watch some comedies, find skits from your favorite comedians, read a funny book, whatever works for you! Also, read the stories of goodness in the world.
- HELP one another: Whether it’s a big project for work, your mental health or the extra stress, ask others for help if you need it… or offer it if you think someone else can benefit. Studies have shown that when we help each other, we are happier. And happier people are more productive and more successful. It becomes this amazing circle of positivity.
- Set an END TIME: Stop working at a specific time every day. Close down your computer and limit the number of times you check your email (unless your job requires it).
If I could boil it down to one thing, it’s to take care of yourself by creating balance. Our brains need rest and positivity as much as they need work. Give your brain both.