If you are like many executives, COVID-19 has turned your world upside down. You now find yourself working from home for the first time—and you realize that although you have often fantasized about it—it is not as easy as you thought it would be.
The reality of working from home vs. the version you had in your mind (comfortable jammies, flexible hours, and a huge coffee mug in hand at all times) are totally different. Sure, you are in your pajamas—nice! But, getting the work done is an entirely different story.
GRAPPLING WITH THE NEW NORMAL: WORLD OF WORK IS NOW AT HOME
Before COVID-19 hit the USA and forced us all into lockdown at home, getting your work done productively was a lot simpler. You showed up to an office, and from start to finish, you dedicated yourself to doing what is expected of you. As a matter of fact, as a leader, you didn’t just do what was expected of you; you went above and beyond every day. So, what gives?
It is not your fault. It is very easy for many of us to get distracted—even high performers—when the scenery changes.
Yes, working from home introduces a myriad of distractions, from neglected household chores you should have done over the weekend; the temptation of continuing to binge watch that you show on Netflix; or, your little ones, who are participating in remote learning at home, need you every five minutes. And, let’s face it; they can be so cute!
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE?
How can you avoid becoming more distracted while you are at home working in your pajamas?
Your workspace may be as small as a corner desk in your bedroom or walk-in closet (maybe?). It also can take up your entire guest bedroom (I know. No one will be visiting for a while, so it works).
Whatever your personal-work space, the following two tips will help you become more productive:
#1. CLAIM YOUR SPACE
Create a bubble by choosing a fixed place in your home dedicated to work only. When you designate a work-from-home area, personalize it to match your work tempo. Because when you create a vibe that mimics your job environment, you will find yourself mentally more focused.
Some thrive in clutter, which I personally like to call ‘organized messes.’ Despite that stack of files and untidy papers, they know exactly where everything is, and that is how they best operate.
Others might prefer organization and will adorn their walls with corkboards, whiteboards, color-coordinated calendars, sticky notes, and the like to keep themselves on track.
Some professionals might be computer geeks and feel they need two monitors to work efficiently instead of only working from a laptop.
The same way you would design a cubicle or an office, feel free to do the same in your home workspace. Remember to keep it sanctioned as ONLY for work.
#2. DON’T BLUR THE LINES
Set boundaries, limits, and stick to routines. In the same manner you would leap out of bed to travel to work, employ the same urgency to walk to your home office. Try to keep a consistent schedule. Once your hours are set, stick to your schedule as much as you can. A 9 a.m. start is 9 a.m. PERIOD!
On the other side of that coin, if 5 p.m. is quitting time, wrap up and put everything away once 5 p.m. hits.
There will always be a reason to continue to work—work is never done. Leave it for tomorrow because it is vital that at home, you call it quits.
Allow yourself time to relax and unwind. Although work life and home life are merging for many of us right now, we should still do everything we can to keep those two lives separate; especially if others within our home are counting on us.
Get everyone in the family on board. Communicate your need for boundaries to your family members. They may think that you are available to cater to their every whim at the drop of a dime because you are physically home. That line needs to be drawn accordingly.
Let your friends and family members know in advance the hours you are not to be disturbed unless it is an emergency. No phone calls and no house visits during that time. If it is not work-related, don’t engage.
After all, if you have been blessed enough to still have a job during this challenging time when so many others have lost theirs, you must continue to safeguard your position and income source by maintaining efficiency and productivity.
If you are looking for resume writing and job searching advice, please see this post.