More People than Ever are Working From Home — This is What Separates Success
The pandemic has changed everything, and many individuals who used to go into the office are now working from home.
My graduate school has moved entirely online and I’m also working three remote writing jobs. Thankfully, the writing positions I’ve had for years and they have helped me learn how to be productive at home. But nonetheless switching to school online has certainly be an adjustment. I’ve had to learn how to structure my time in an unstructured environment. If I didn’t, things simply wouldn’t get done.
Failure couldn’t be an option.
I suspect that the individuals who loved their office are being just as productive at home without it, no matter how much they may be missing those four wall. But those who didn’t thrive in an office space (like me) are now on one side of the spectrum or the other. They are either the ones now thriving from home. Or, they’re just as lost as they were before.
Here are some reasons productivity may have been lost (or found) for those now working from home, as well as some insight into how I’ve managed my time in this new environment.
Why We Lost Productivity
1. Camouflaging the Transition
Maybe you tried to replicate your office environment as closely as possible. Maybe this worked for you (if it did, that’s great, keep doing it). But the fact of the matter is, your home is not your office. There will be differences, and you can use these differences to your advantage.
It’s not all bad.
Don’t lock yourself up in your cubicle if that is not the way in which you’ve ever reached your full extent of productivity.
2. Caught in the Web of Distraction
Let’s face it. The human brain can find it hard to maintain focus. The whole idea of an office cubicle wasn’t just to be space efficient. It was literally designed to minimize distractions.
Working from home means easy access to your technology, snacks, to-do list, and more. I recently wrote about how to minimze mindless snacking while working from home. It’s just another form of distraction to be honest with you.
How I Stopped Mindlessly Snacking While Working From Home
It starts with not buying snacks you’re prone to mindlessly snack on.
Even the most productive individuals are sometimes caught in the web of distractions. It doesn’t mean you’re not a good employee. It means you’re human.
Some Ways to Find Success
1. Do What You Did Before That Worked
Although a lot is different being at home as opposed to an office environment, not everything is. It’s possible to maintain the productive habits that you had formed in the office which are transferable the home.
- Maybe you thrive when you take a walk during your lunch break and stretch your legs, maintain that.
- Maybe you operate best meeting in person. Use Zoom or FaceTime to talk with your colleagues instead of a phone call or email.
- Maybe you love hand written to do lists (I do too). Maintain that. (The article below articulates more of the specifics on how I create and complete to do lists).
Things Don’t Get Done Unless You Do Them
How I started actually crossing things off the to-do list, even when I wasn’t motivated.
2. Do What You Didn’t do Before
Use working at home to your advantage. Figure out in what ways you could have worked more efficiently in the office, and find ways to implement those in your new environment.
Use this freedom of change to your advantage.
- Maybe you work better outside in the sunshine and you couldn’t do that before in an office.
- Maybe you work better when you have a cup of tea to sip on throughout the day, and now you have your tea kettle readily accessible.
- Maybe you hate working at a desk, and need to stand up and stretch every 15 minutes and can now do so at your leisure.
What I Do
Here are some of the things I’ve found that help me personally focus in a home environment.
I work when I’m actually most productive
For me, my brain is most on fire first thing in the morning. I understand some jobs don’t allow you to alter hours. But if they do, and you think you would thrive off of a change, try it!
I change up my work space
I definitely work best with a table and chair but I get bored sitting and staring out of the same window all day. Sometimes I go sit at the dining room table or work on the couch and put my laptop on the coffee table.
I find when I switch up my space, I am able to maintain focus for longer periods of time.
I stand and stretch
I try to stand and stretch at least every hour and every few hours I go and take a few steps around my backyard to feel the sunshine.
I check in with colleagues
Checking in with my fellow classmates and colleagues is one of the best ways I’ve found to hold myself accountable. These are often spontaneous check ins. I reach out when I’m feeling myself lose productivity.
Sometimes we all need a reminder or a nudge to get up, and get going.
I bought an under the desk bicycle
I’m one of those people who focuses better when I’m moving. I bought a little bike pedal that I can put under my desk. When I’m feeling distracted, I’ll slowly pedal. For 30 bucks, I think it was a great investment.
I established my workspace
Although I don’t always work from my desk, I’ve ensured I have all of the materials I need there. I finally bought a second monitor and a printer which has amplified my speed and thoroughness. I also bought a new pack of highlighters and a brand new planner.
I ensured that I had all of the materials I would have had in my office at school to be successful at home.
The Context and The Takeaway
There are other reasons productivity may have been lost during this time that I haven’t addressed here. That is the physical and emotional strain of the pandemic which have impacted all of us.
But as the crisis of the pandemic fades, many traditionally “office positions” will maintain their at home status.
It is possible to be productive both places, but it does take introspection, self-reflection, and action. Find what was holding you back in an office space, strategize on how you may improve on those things at home, and implement them within your new space.
No matter what kind of worker you are, the advantage of working from home is that you can structure it in the way that works best for you.