Waking up, showering, changing clothes, saying goodbye to the family and going to the office. These activities are so routine for those who work outside of the home that no one realizes their importance for concentration and productivity throughout the day.
The simple fact of moving from home to work helps you to disconnect from the family environment and to enter with body and soul into your work activities.
But what to do when the office becomes merged with the dining table? Or the corporate phone become your own personal number?
In times of home office life like the one we are living in now, many people who were not used to working at home have been looking for ways to stay productive and creative.
Creating a routine is one of the secrets!
Discover practical ways to establish an effective routine for the home office:
1- Build your office environment
The separation between workspace and family/leisure space is essential for a productive routine during home office hours.
If you have a room at home that allows adaptations, choose it as your office and prepare it in order to guarantee that you have everything you need during working hours: internet access, computer, water, telephone, comfortable table and chairs, silence, away from distractions.
But, if you can't separate an entire room for that, no problem.
The important thing is to have a fixed place that you recognize as your home office. A table or desk already helps.
It is also essential to talk to your family members and communicate that this is your place of work and ask everyone to respect schedules and space.
This will help you to have the same notion of transition from home to work, disconnecting from personal issues to focus on professional activities.
2- Work objects vs house objects
Resist the urge to turn on the television, go to the fridge more often, work from your bed or sit on the couch during work hours.
It’s important to stick to a routine and be strict from the beginning.
Changing your clothes to something more formal and work related can also help.
It doesn't have to be fancy. Just take off your pjs, wash your face and maybe put on shoes. Removing and putting away your work clothes and slipping into something comfy will help turn the key around at the end of the day as well. And you will understand how this turnaround matters even for your mental health.
It's about avoiding the feeling of working all day and associating your home with just that.
If you are going to spend weeks basically at home, you will need to have a multi-space there, which provides concentration, but also relaxation and pleasure.
3- Drink tea or water!
Self-explanatory tip, but it can’t be emphasised enough: a change of routine can unsettle your routine- so remember hydration is key!
Your concentration, as well as the entire functioning of the body will thank you for being well hydrated.
Bring your favourite water bottle or even better: your favourite teapot and mug to your desk and use apps and alarms to remind you it's time to top up!
You can also use your breaks for keeping a track of it. Each break, a cup of tea!
4- Take a Break!
Working in a welcoming and familiar environment make taking regular breaks all the more important. They are vital to keep creativity and productivity high, even when you are in the home office.
Set an ideal period for breaks - 15 minutes, 30 minutes, you choose - and be sure to take them. At that time, get up from the table, have a quick snack, look out the window, drink your favourite cup of tea while stretching a bit or even do our amazing tea meditation.
In company, we naturally walk more during the day, either to go to a colleague's table, to a meeting or to have a cup of tea or water.
So also take a few minutes during the day to stretch your legs, stretch your arms, shoulders, fists.
In addition to preventing pain, this practice helps you stay focused and avoid fatigue.
But be careful! Checking your emails, accessing social networks or cruising the news channel doesn’t make for constructive break taking. After all you want to feel refreshed after this break; and not as if you have merely postponed your tasks.
5- Make a daily to-do list
A minute spent on planning can save an average of 5 to 10 minutes on execution, according to productivity experts.
So stopping to think about what is a priority and planning what you are going to do can be the most important activity of your day.
This is essential when you are at the office too, but at home it can be the difference between hanging around until you start or staying focused and getting straight to it.
It's simple: just make a list of everything you need to do and ask yourself (or align with the team or leadership) what is most important. And start there without further ado, repeating the process at the end of the day.
6- Shorten your list of tasks
Don’t be sad, it's not just you who makes that huge to-do list and gets frustrated because you couldn't stick to it.
Humans in general are terrible at calculating the time needed for tasks. We tend to err upwards or downwards, unless we are very used to realistic lists.
In terms of home office for beginners, it is necessary to take the task list as more than a pile of obligations. To do this, try the ABCDE Method, which proposes the hierarchy of tasks from most to least important. With that, you can cut the least important ones off the list and leave them for the next day or for a gap in the schedule.
7- Work with blocks of similar activities
90 minutes is the magic number for concentration.
It is the recommended time to gather a group of activities and do without interruption.
90 minutes is not so short that you are unable to do what it takes or so long as to let you get distracted or tired.
So when you are organizing your schedule, you can group similar tasks into 90-minute blocks.
What matters here is to understand the logic of "blocking" activities.
Writing: a block.
Reply messages and e-mails: a block.
Meetings: one block.
The idea is focusing on tasks which look similar so you decrease the amount of interruptions and increase concentration.
Here I usually write during the mornings, when I am more creative and let the administrative tasks for the afternoon where I am more focused.
8- Take a break!
Yes, I know, we talked about it on number 4 but that’s how important this is!
Taking breaks to move the body helps increase your productivity.
Try to stretch for a few minutes every 90 minutes. Also a quick 10 minutes bringing attention to your breathing is also an elixir for a full day!
What I do: I meditate in the middle of the afternoon if I feel that I have become distracted or agitated, or at the end of the working day, as if it were a preparation for the post-work.
9- Technology is your friend! Use it!
Some companies require that the employee, even working in a home office scheme, be connected for a specified period. Others maintain more free hours, provided that deliveries are made within the agreed time. In such cases, it is important that you take charge of yourself and create mechanisms to control time and productivity.
Last but not least: Don’t take work home
Yes, you read that right.
Although your work is your home during home office periods, it is important to be even stricter about working hours. Extrapolating the boundaries between home and office can create mental fatigue more easily, which sometimes leads to stress.
Therefore, determine the time to close the notebook, get yourself a well-deserved cup of tea and take a break from professional activities. And strive to give your break time your full focus.
If any demand is not urgent, avoid exchanging emails or messages at night or on weekends.
Another amazing tip is :
Don't have breakfast or lunch in front of the computer or stay up working late just because you've earned a few hours without commuting around the city.
Remember:Your brain needs rest for better productivity !
Productivity is not about been busy but been able to delivery quality work :)