I have been working from home for more than 11 years now. Not as a freelancer, it was a full-time regular job where I had the liberty to operate remotely. In today’s technology-rich environment, it is totally doable and this lock down has proved it also. Many companies are encouraging this culture, if not permanently then at least a few days in a week even much before the pandemic started. As it is cost-effective, its a win-win situation for both the parties. Employers can save logistics cost and employees can work at leisure and save transit hours. However, management is always concerned about the performance and productivity when working from home. If you are not used to working from home and its a new phenomenon for you, it may seem daunting in the beginning, especially for the parents but with a few mindful ways, you can overcome the challenges. Over the years, I have learned the art of working remotely effectively and efficiently. So, let me share from my personal experience, a few quick ways to boost your performance when working from home. Even if you are not a parent, you will find these tips useful, so read on:
Quick Ways to boost your performance when working from home
Set up a work station for yourself and snacks station for family/kids:
Getting out of your cozy couch may not sound a great idea and you may feel tempted to work from your comfort zone but this is the first step in getting organized. Set up a clean work station for yourself with a proper desk and a comfortable chair. Put some nice picture or flower vase or anything that brings you positivity. Don’t keep anything that may distract you. Working from home needs self-motivation and an optimistic and cluttered free environment does help.
Tips for working parents: When you have kids around, they are always hungry. To avoid getting up in every few minutes and catering to their needs, set up their snacks /fruits/ water stations within their reach. Let them help themselves.
Prepare a to-dos list:
This is one habit I always swear by. Jot down the tasks you have to do during the day, prioritize them and map out your day accordingly. Tick off the items one by one once you achieve them. This habit will help you stay organised and the chances of missing any task would reduce. Use features like calendars, notes etc. that will remind you of any meetings / calls scheduled. Set a deadline for every task, it will help you accomplish them more efficiently.
Tips for working parents: Target to finish the jobs that are most crucial and require more concentration while kids are away. I prefer morning hours and take the maximum advantage during their afternoon nap hours. You can fit tasks like replying to emails, team calls, or any other shorter tasks that require less focus throughout the day.
Ditch your pajamas and get ready everyday:
As you are at home, you may prefer to adorn your comfortable pajamas but I personally prefer dressing up well every day before I start working. Even if I am working from home, getting up on time, following a routine, and dressing up nicely gives me that zing to kick start my day. Pretend that you are going to office and the rest will follow. You need not necessarily wear formals but pick up anything else than yoga pants, it will definitely make you feel more on task.
Make a time schedule:
One of the biggest challenges when working from home is time management. Work from home comes with a bonus of flexible hours but as there is no swiping in /out of the office, people tend to work till late. To avoid this situation, regulate your working hours, set your start and winding up time, and stick to the schedule. Plan your day in advance. Keep your dress for the next day ready, do the meal preparation a night before. Getting up early works best for me as I get some extra time to finish the household chores, cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. Remember the early bird catches the worms.
Tips for working parents: Plan your kid’s activities for the entire day to keep themselves occupied while you are at work. Reserve some special toys / books /puzzles /blocks etc. for those meltdown moments. YES! they do happen and you have to deal with them. Set you meals time and stick to it.
Check with your employer if you can divide your working hours in batches. Instead of 30 minutes lunch break, if an hour breaks helps you, ask for it. Compensate those 30 minutes and end your day a little later or start early. Employers do consider the fact that you are managing with kids and are quite flexible, as long as you are performing and yielding results. So, be proactive and ask for some flexibility.
Establish a boundary and Set the expectations right:
People often don’t take working from home professionals seriously. For them, you are at home at leisure. So, it is very important to inform your family/friends/neighbors about your schedule. Make them understand that these are strictly your working hours and you are NOT available for any other commitments. Whether its a quick chat or phone call or a party, you cannot attend anything during your work hours.
Tips for working parents: Let your kids also know that they cannot have your undivided attention and you won’t be available all the time. My 4.5 year olds know when Mamma is working on a laptop, means she is at work. If she has earplugs on, she is on a call. If the door is closed, she is in a meeting. So, make the rules clear. Also, inform your clients /team about your kids /pets at home so that they can be prepared for any background noise of barking dog or crying kid. Setting the honest expectations is always better than explaining later. Remember, “Mute” button is parents’ best friend during the conference calls.
Taking short 5-10 minutes breaks at regular intervals really help when working from home. Don’t keep seated at a place for a long time, pause, stretch your body, grab a quick coffee /tea or munch on some fruits/snacks. Listen to your favorite music, talk to your family/roommate/kids, play with your pet. Get a whiff of fresh air in your balcony, and rejuvenate yourself for the rest of the day. It not only helps your body move but also relaxes your mind, and leaves you energized.
Tips for working parents: You can utilize these breaks for any pending tasks you may have. It could be anything – putting on the washing machine or dishwasher or helping kids with their next activity or home work. However, try not to juggle much between mom role and employee role otherwise you will not able to do justice to either of them.
Keep distractions away:
While working on a wi-fi enable device, you will be tempted to check who commented on your new profile pic on Facebook or what’s going on in your family Whatsapp group. Social media is the biggest distraction that hampers productivity. Restrict yourself from browsing other sites, switch to incognito mode, if needed. Keep your mobile at a distance on silent mode or mute the notifications. For me, keeping mobile away works like magic and I have noticed significant improvement in my performance. Try this for yourself and you will see the results in no time.
If you are a freelancer and are your own boss, you can be flexible in your schedule and plan things differently, however, if you are employed, you need to adhere to certain timings. In both the cases, planning is of prime importance. So, follow these quick ways to boost your performance when working from home and do let me know if there is any other trick that works for you.
Until next time!