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While work from home seems to be ideal to increase productivity and improve work-life balance, research says otherwise. This 2017 study by the United Nations discovered people who work from home report higher levels of stress compared to their office colleagues.
With an increasing job intensity and higher reliance on mobile devices for communication, you may find yourself ovewhelmed with a plethora of stressors while working from home. It can eventually push you towards burn-out if you don’t become aware of its alarming signs.
Prepare yourself to manage the newfound work-from-home stress with these 12 tips and improve your productivity and overall well-being.
The transition from your pillow to your desk may not be as refreshing and smooth as the transition from home to the office.
Getting started with your work early in the morning can help you check morning blues from wearing away your motivation.
Moreover the earlier you start, the sooner you’ll be done with your important work. You can log off from work early as well.
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This may be one of the most under-rated tips for your productive work-from-home routine.
It may seem silly to you but Blake Ashforth of Arizona State University had stated in his classic paper how certain activities help us transition from our non-work to work roles.
These activities are referred to as “boundary-crossing activities.”
Dressing up or getting ready for work is one such ‘boundary-crossing activity.’ You obviously don’t need to dress up formally as you might for work, but simply changing your clothes can signal to you that its time to work.
Take a Fake Mini-Commute
Commute, along with dressing up, is another of boundary-crossing activities for many.
Pretend you are going to the office and take a walk around a nearby park or inside your apartment before sitting down to work. This will signal your body and mind to get ready for work.
Once you arrive at your desk, follow the same ritual as you would in your office; freshen up, get your coffee, etc.
Plus you’ll get to treat yourself with some fresh air and sunlight.
Designate a Workspace or Home Office
Just because you are not at your office doesn’t mean you should work on your bed. Or the couch or any other space associated with leisure time. This can hamper productivity a lot.
Design your workspace similar to the one you have in your office.
It doesn’t have to be a separate room. It can be at a corner in some room as long as it feels different from the rest of the home.
Make your workspace comfortable with the right furniture. Allow as much natural light as possible to keep it bright.
Your workspace should help activate your work mode as soon as you get down to work.
Also, try to perform any work-related activity inside your workspace. This will help you maintain a healthy separation between work and your home life.
Structure your day like you would in the office
Before getting started with work, you must design a schedule to segment what you’ll do and when over the course of the day. Communicate with your boss and colleagues to ensure your schedule is convenient for the rest of your team.
You should be clear about the times when you’ll be working and when you’ll not.
To clearly define your working hours, begin with your regular office hours, make room for a couple of extra hours if necessary.
Working extra hours must not feel like an obligation to you. Be responsible and establish time boundaries beyond which you will not let work interfere. Tell yourself it’s time to put work away, recharge, and pick up with a fresh mind tomorrow. The work will still be there.
Plan and Maintain a To-Do List
Prepare a definite to-do list before you get down to work. This will help you save time from figuring out what to work o throughout the day. You must be flexible in reorganizing your schedule with changes in your work agenda. But having a clear to-do list will help you stay committed to your work and track your progress.
Preferably design the to-do list for tomorrow at the end of today. Know exactly what you have to work on can also motivate you to get up in the morning and get started with your workday.
Save Important Work for Your Productive Hours
No one stays super productive throughout 24 hours in the day. It’s only natural for your productivity to ebb and flow in the course of your workday.
There are specific times when you will reach peak alertness levels both mentally and physically. Once you identify your peak productivity timings, plan your schedule around it.
Save your hardest or most important tasks during peak productivity hours to ensure you perform well at work that matters the most.
Take Healthy Mini-Breaks
Make room for minibreaks as your work. It’s important to break the sedentariness of work.
Use as little as a 5-minute break every hour to get away from the desk. Drink some water, and do some stretches or simply walk around the room.
Resist opening social media for digital stimulation. That will only overload your mind with distractions.
The key is to relax both mentally and physically.
Research has shown that taking mini-breaks boosts your productivity levels and overall performance.
Maintain Distance from Distractions
It’s human to get distracted.
But that doesn’t mean we should let ourselves get distracted whenever possible.
For most of us, the biggest source of distraction is the news at our fingertips. And it doesn’t take much time to scroll ourselves into an anxious mess.
Keep all sorts of anxious distractions at bay during your work hours. It can not only affect your attention levels but reduce your performance as well.
Schedule time after work for checking out news and spending time on social media.
If you find yourself attending emails, calls, text messages, and video calls non-stop all throughout the day, when are you getting the time to get work done?
Communication becomes critical during work-from-home but beyond a necessary limit, it can also become a major distraction. To protect your productive hours, convey clearly to your manager, and direct reports, your work schedule for the day, and how often you should check-in.
If possible, collaborate with every member to schedule any important meeting at a mutually convenient time. This will help you minimize distractions when you work on important assignments.
Set Ground Rules with People at Home
Set clear ground rules with members in your house about when and how much involvement they can expect during your work hours. They must not assume that you will always be available for giving a hand in every household work.
Communicate with your spouse how it will be convenient to divide the housework so that it doesn’t interfere with your work. Lack of communication early on may make you feel taken advantage of and affect your productivity.
Keep Up the Chit-Chat
When you shift to work-from-home, lots of casual socializing opportunities inside the office get cut off. You may have started to realize that those social interactions used to make you feel less lonely and helped to break the monotony of work throughout the day.
Make it a point to continue these chit chats with your co-workers during mutual breaks.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a coworker just to check in with them. Maintain conversations as usual.
Even better if you can talk to a colleague and set aside time after work to catch up with them.
You should not underestimate the mental aspect of socializing. Lack of it may affect your productivity and overall morale in the long term.
Like everything else, working from home has its pros and cons.
By knowing how to manage the hidden stressors, you can enjoy all the added benefits of a work-from-home situation.
Without the constant stress of managing work, you will be truly able to enjoy the amazing sense of freedom and flexibility that you were looking forward to from your work-from-home lifestyle.