Working from home comes with a number of benefits and can be hugely rewarding if you keep your productivity levels high, look after your wellbeing, maintain a healthy work-life balance and keep the lines of communication open with your colleagues.
Here are 15 Top Tips on how to remain productive and healthy whilst working from home.
1. Set a morning routine
When working from home, it’s quite easy to roll out of bed at 8:25am and prop yourself up at your laptop ready to start working. Are you really ready though? Wake up at the same time you usually would, get washed and changed, have breakfast, perhaps in factor in some time to do something that makes you happy before you start work. You’ll find you’re a lot more productive than if you were to sit in bed with your laptop!
An idea to use - At Block Recruit, we each created our “WHY”. This is basically the reasons we go to work every day bringing energy and passion to be able to achieve goals we’ve set ourselves. We each created visuals of these goals, whether that be a holiday, buying a house, providing for our families etc. We then created mood boards with these goals on them, being really specific (e.g. pictures of the places we want to go on holiday, pictures of house interiors, the things we’d want to do with our families) and then printed them out. We start every day by looking through to stay focused, determined and present at work. It’s a great way to start your morning.
2. Dress for success
Get dressed for work! Regardless of whether you’re someone that communicates via video with external parties or not, get dressed! It’s amazing how much this impacts your productivity levels. Sitting in your pyjamas is not going to make you feel like the powerful, unstoppable professional that you are.
3. Maintain your normal hours
If you have the ability to get work done from home, you can sometimes get caught up in it all. Make sure that you set your hours to the same, normal office hours that you would usually work. If you need to set an alarm on your phone to help you stick to those hours, do.
4. Boundary your time & set ground rules with people sharing your space
Leading on from maintaining your normal hours, you will really benefit from putting in boundaries with your time. If you’re successful with keeping to your office hours but you’re sitting in the lounge still talking about work with your family, partner or friends, then you’ve not actually switched off from work. So, when you’re outside work hours, allow yourself to really switch off by agreeing not to talk about work when you’re not in work hours. You may need to leave the room, leave your house, walk around the block, use a 10 minute meditation session or similar to allow you to fully break state (break from the mindset and feeling of being at work) to allow you to fully shut off.
Share these boundaries you’ve set for yourself with those that you live with. That way they can respect them too and may even help to remind you that you shouldn’t be discussing work if you find yourself drifting into conversation. Go one step further and have some fun with it - introduce a forfeit for the person that starts talking about work after office hours!
5. Set up a dedicated workspace
Having a dedicated workspace will allow you to boundary your time and you may find it easier to break out a work headspace if you’re physically leaving the room you’re working in. For some, you might not have the set up to allow you to do that, but the same principle still applies. Set up your workspace with everything you’ll need during the working day so you’re not distracting yourself by having to go and find things throughout the day.
In your workspace you may want to have; a notepad, a pen, your work phone, your laptop / computer, a plant, a nice candle and look into creating a stability board. Guidance on what this is and how to create it here: https://bit.ly/2QEoqAk
6. Schedule and take breaks
Schedule breaks throughout the day and take them as well as your lunch break. Again, it may be useful to set these as alarm reminders on your phone. It’s important to break away from your screen and give yourself the time to physically and mentally process.
7. Use “Focus 30” sessions
Focus 30 sessions are something we use daily at Block Recruit. They are basically 30 minute focused working sessions where you turn off all notifications and distractions, zone out and work to achieve your key actions for the day. These could be used for those bigger tasks that you’ve been putting off or the high priority, urgent tasks that need addressing. Whatever it is you feel will give you the biggest sense of achievement for the day whilst moving powerfully forwards with your workload.
We usually start our Focus 30 sessions from 9am after our team meeting and run them through to lunch time, with 10-15 minute breaks in between where we’ll step away from our desks before going back into the next one. Use the timer on your phone to help time-keep and the alarm will notify you when to break from focused working.
8. Stay in touch & communicate with your colleagues
Whilst you may not be sat in a room with your colleagues, there are a number of ways that you can stay in touch. You can use Zoom Meetings, FaceTime or WhatsApp video to discuss work topics with your team. I’d recommend using video whenever you need to talk to a colleagues, just to give you some human interaction throughout the day. You could also create a group chat on WhatsApp, use Microsoft Teams or Slack to communicate throughout the day and remain social. Remember to boundary your times with these chats to allow you to fully shut off from work in the evenings.
9. Keep meetings booked in and show up with energy
We have a team meeting every morning which we use to set our priorities for the day. We do these over Zoom Meetings at the moment. My advice would be to use video meetings with your team if you’re a company that usually would have a company catch up at different points throughout the day. You then need to show up with energy! Remaining positive, upbeat and focused will not only improve your own productivity and energy levels, but it’ll be a great way to boost morale within the team during meetings too.
10. Prioritise your workload and stay organised
You may already have processes and preferred software in place that you use to stay organised, efficient and have high output levels. If you don’t, Asana is a really good one to use. It allows you to prioritise tasks, create projects, assign tasks to either yourself or your colleagues and works as an electronic check-list throughout your working day.
11. Training / CPD Opportunities
A benefit of working from home is less office distractions. As long as you’ve also put your boundaries in with people if you’re sharing the same space at the moment, you also shouldn’t have distractions at home. You can use the breaks you have set yourself throughout the day to read a few pages from a personal development book in each break or revise the syllabus for the IRPM exams. It’s a great chance to look into some CPD opportunities.
12. Stay active
It’s important to remain active whilst working from home and you have so many options for things to do here! During your lunch break or one of your breaks between Focus 30 sessions, you could walk your dog around the block, do a 10 minute yoga class on YouTube or download one of the 7 Minute Workout apps. Do whatever you can to stay active as it’s not only great for your physical health but your mental health too.
13. Eat nutrient-dense foods
What we put into our bodies not only affects our mental wellbeing but it impacts our energy and productivity levels. To be able to perform to the best of your ability, remember to stay hydrated and eat nutrient-dense foods – and remember to prioritise taking a lunch break! Working through your lunch and not taking the time to refuel your mind and body will negatively impact your ability to perform at work in the afternoon. Some key things to note:
Vitamin D – Decreases the risk of fatigue, improves brain development, promotes healthy bones and boosts immunity. Sources of Vitamin D include salmon, tuna, mackerel, egg yolks and sitting outside for 15 minutes per day.
Vitamin B12 – Reduces risk of depression and stress, helps with production of neurotransmitters and it’s great for your energy, mood and immune support. Key sources include: meat, salmon, tuna, cod, milk, eggs, marmite and vegan supplements.
Zinc – Builds new cells and enzymes, processes carbs, fats and protein, boosts immune support and improves your mood. Sources include meat, brown bread, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cashews and white mushrooms.
Omega 3 – Supports your mood, reduces depression and anxiety, improves eye health and reduces inflammation. Great sources include ground flaxseeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, pistachios, oily fish, chia seeds and squash.
Magnesium – Promotes better sleep, improves mood and memory, improves learning ability, promotes relaxation. Key sources include green leafy veg, pumpkin seeds, salmon, avocado, nuts, brown rice and whole wheat bread.
14. Remain positive and look after your mental health
It’s a key time to ensure you’re looking after your mental health and wellbeing. Doing so not only for your own sake, but it will also have a huge impact on your productivity levels whilst working from home. There are so many simple, free things that you can be doing. Apps such as Breethe and Headspace are great. We do also have a number of wellbeing exercises on our website that you can download: https://bit.ly/2UtWCzM
It’s also a great idea to follow positive, wellbeing friendly accounts on your social platforms. In an age where we’re connected heavily through social media, having these accounts in front of you throughout the day will give you a boost when you may not have known you needed it.
Recommended Instagram accounts include: @themindtribe, @urban_wellness_uk, @jonathan_hoban, @shereenhobancoach, @themantraco and @maison_du_mantra
15. Don’t punish yourself
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or punish yourself for not achieving everything in one day. You’re only human! At the end of each working day, write down 3 things that you’ve achieved and be proud of achieving them – no matter how small! You’re adjusting and you’re still achieving. Allow yourself time to figure it out and you’ll find that just by doing so, your productivity levels will increase.
Zoe Southwell, Client Development Manager at BlockRecruit.