It’s been a very stressful day at work and your colleagues were frustrating you. Your clients were also upset about a particular issue. To top it off your productivity is down and your boss just kept piling on the work. It’s almost as though he wasn’t aware of what was going on! You started your work day quite early and it seems like you’ll be at it for a while longer. So you grab two measly slices of bread, slab on some peanut butter and call it dinner. You look at your phone and realize that there are quite a few missed calls. But they’re all personal, they can wait. You didn’t get to fit in your evening yoga/run session. That’ll also have to wait until tomorrow because this project is more pressing. Is that what working from home looks like for you?
If any of this hit home, I feel you, we are the same but that that does not make it ok. We have a serious problem on hand. Working from home has its perks and it’s downsides, but it is not supposed to be more tiring than being in the office. If you are constantly missing out on things you would otherwise be able to do, sacrificing calls you feel you can’t take and feeding yourself worse than a picky-eating toddler, here are some tips to help you to improve your productivity and make your working experience more pleasant.
Designating a ‘work only’ zones to boost productivity
One of the most important things to do when working from home is to set physical boundaries. Even though your ‘office’ may be in the middle of your living room, you still need to treat it as a professional space. This way, the rest of your house can be considered your comfort zone. This doesn’t mean you need to wear a suit to ‘the office’ – although you can if you’d like – what I’m referring to are the little nuances that are specific to a workplace. Feel like watching series, having long personal conversations with your friend or researching vacation spots? Move away from your desk and sit at a non work-zone. Also, remember that wouldn’t be able to do so at your desk under normal working circumstances. So make sure that when you are at your workstation, you’re actually working.
Most, if not all offices have very harsh, bright lights that keep all the mice away. Have you ever wondered why this is? It’s science! Our bodies produce serotonin (the feel good hormone) during the day and melatonin (the sleep hormone) at night. A big red flag would be to in an environment that lets in very little natural light and has poor lighting. This will have a significant impact on your hormone production which in turn also impacts your mood. When setting up an at home work-station, you need to keep in mind that cosy isn’t the vibe we’re going for. Cosy puts you to sleep! What you need to ensure is that your room is comfortable, but still practical for your productivity.
Set boundaries to enhance your productivity
Being at home with your laptop doesn’t mean that you have to use it in bed. You also don’t have to answer work calls after hours just because you’re technically still in ‘the office’. You also don’t need to start before you’re required to, just because there is no longer a commute. The corporate world isn’t really forgiving, we know that. But we need to set our own rules to avoid clocking in thirteen hour workdays and finally crashing when the burnout hits. By the same token, it is also important to set aside time for lunch and take regular breaks. This is extremely important to stay sane while still producing quality work.
Invest in a comfortable chair to boost your productivity
Have you heard of the word ergonomics? If you haven’t, take a look because there is so much science that backs the shape of your keyboard, the height of your desk, the lighting of the room and the design of your chair. One of the main reasons that offices spend so much money on those fancy, swivel chairs is not just because they look cool and go with the decor. It actually has more to do with how effective you are because of the chairs! Investing in a well designed and comfortable chair will make a big difference when you are spending hours on end typing away at a keyboard – and no, your dining chair or bar stool are not the best option for this. Trust me, I know!
Set the thermostat to your optimal temperature
One thing that my colleagues and I always complain about is the temperature of the room in the office. It’s really the thing that bothers me most about working from there. Now that I have spent close to nine months working out of the comfort of my home, I finally understand why that little bit of torture made us more productive. Although my theory goes against the popular vote, I do believe that I am more efficient when the room is set to a comfortable temperature or just below that. It definitely trumps to working in a stuffy and uncomfortably hot setting!
If you search on the internet, you will find several arguments that counter cold rooms for productivity. However, you’ll be surprised to see a few others that indicate a gender divide in preference. According to studies, men prefer colder rooms whereas women are less productive in the cold. Whatever your preference is, make sure to adjust the room for comfort before you sit down, not after, so as not to have a brain fog.
These are just some of the things I have implemented in my routine for a more productive and pleasant working-from-home experience.
What are some other things that have improved your productivity while working from home?