If you’re like the millions of Americans who have found themselves working from home in the last few weeks, you might be having a hard time staying focused and productive without your normal workspace or your daily routines. With the Omni team all working remotely, we’ve had to learn some helpful new techniques ourselves. Since we’re in the business of productivity, here are five helpful tips for staying productive while working at home.
(1) Stick with your routine
When big life changes happen, it’s important to find normalcy and stability where you can. While it may be tempting to sleep in or sport your pajamas while working from home, sticking with your usual routine is key to maintaining balance. Get up when you normally get up, eat breakfast, and get dressed in work clothes (or, at least, non-sleeping clothes—you don’t have to wear a suit and tie in your home office). Following the typical steps you’d normally go through in your day will help you stay focused, because it prevents your brain from having to make too many extra decisions. You’ll also feel more like your normal Monday-through-Friday-self.
If you typically have a long commute and aren’t sure what to do with the extra time, consider that some free time you can use to develop new, healthy routines. Spend the time you’d usually be in a car or on the bus exercising, reading a book, meditating, or listening to a podcast—anything that helps you maintain a sense of calm. Not only does this give you some extra “me” time, but it also gives you a break between waking up and work time, which helps your brain set up boundaries between work and play.
(2) Have a dedicated workspace
Speaking of creating boundaries, don’t forget to set up physical boundaries for your workspace. Having a specific area to work will help you get more done during working hours and be able to unplug at the end of the day—just make sure you don’t spend too much time in your new workspace during your free time.
Wherever that space is—your desk, kitchen table, or a corner of your couch; anywhere that isn’t your bed!—make it your own, just like you would at the office. Make sure you have everything you need, from pens or staples to your favorite water bottle. Setting up shop like this will also help establish the physical boundaries of your workspace for the people you live with and ensure they know that when you’re there, you’re in work mode.
(3) Take breaks
No matter where you’re working, it’s important to take breaks. Your brain needs time to process, rest, and reset. Similar to sticking with your routine, make sure you build in the same breaks you would take at the office while you’re working from home. Go for a walk outside, stretch, grab a cup of coffee, or have a five-minute dance party—whatever you need to feel recharged. Most of us don’t move our bodies as much working from home as we would while at the office, so it’s important to stay active.
Don’t forget to take your normal lunch break, too (and, of course, to stop and start work at normal times). Eat a healthy meal (and healthy snacks throughout the day!) and drink plenty of water so your brain has the fuel it needs to help you do your best work. If you normally eat with coworkers, try setting up a video chat so you can still share a meal with others.
(4) Stay connected
On that note: Video chatting with your coworkers, friends, and family will help you feel connected even if you’re alone at home. Working from home can feel isolating, and it’s important to reach out and stay linked to both your work and personal communities. Even if you just need to chat with someone for a minute, call a coworker—they’re probably feeling the same way.
Seeing your coworkers’ faces will help everyone remember that we’re all in this together. (You can also set up a virtual happy hour to get the whole office together at once.) The most important thing is to remember you’re not alone.
(5) Check your infrastructure
Being able to work from home is entirely dependent on having secure access to the internet, so now is a good time to make sure your WiFi and router are running smoothly. Check to see if your router’s firmware is up-to-date—if you’ve had your router for more than five years, you might be in need of an upgrade. And if your network is being used by multiple people working from home at the same time, you especially want to make sure your connection is strong enough to handle all the extra traffic. If it needs a boost, call your ISP to negotiate a new service plan.
If you have the means to do so, it may also help to buy a USB dock, additional monitor, and accessories like a keyboard and mouse. Having the proper tools will help you stay on task, comfortable, and productive at home.
You may be in the comfort of your own home, but don’t forget about security. Check all your at-home devices to see if you’ve downloaded the most recent updates, which contain the latest security patches. And be sure to check your antivirus software to determine if it’s up to date, too.
Bonus tip: Stay organized with Omni
Everything we do at Omni is about helping you be productive, and our task management tool OmniFocus was designed to help you get things done. Add Actions (to-dos), group them by project, and use Perspectives to plan your day so you stay on track. (And since a little levity helps during stressful times, we won’t tell your boss if you use the app to organize things outside of work—like when it’s time to take the dog on a walk or plan a pillow fort with your kids.)