During the pandemic, working from home called into question the ability to keep productivity up without sacrificing the work output or quality. Whether you’ve always worked remotely or had to adapt to home office life. In this post, we share easy-to-implement tricks to optimize for productivity in a remote work culture.
Continue reading to learn more about our thoughts.
The Quick Pivot to Remote Work
Whew! Where do I start with this?
I’ve always had a love-hate with remote work. No matter how you feel about it, you can’t deny the obvious conveniences that come with working from home. If we learned anything during this Pandemic, we saw how quickly schools, businesses, and organizations changed or adjusted their business model to support remote work.
Us millennial women were no different.
Working from home is quite a nice luxury when we aren’t juggling the regular demands of life while also trying to remain a semi-productive employee in the workforce. This sentiment was amplified if you had tiny co-workers (aka kiddos) sharing your home workspace. The lightening speed adjustment to remote left many of us scrambling to create acceptable work quarters. We found any nook or cranny to shove a makeshift table and that halfway broken folding chair to meet with Zoom colleagues. If you were anything like me, your bedroom double as an office and your pillow moonlighted as a desk.
It was rough times.
Settling into this new norm was a story that was all too common everywhere.
You Aren’t Alone
Aside from the non-WFH everyday heroes and heroines that worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, so many of us struggled to remain productive. The lines between work and home were blurred more than ever and mental health concerns began to take front and center of many workplace conversations. Although, we are a bit removed from kids learning remote, we’re still playing catch up from a year plus of remote learning. Many organizations have began to evolve by supporting hybrid work modes. My workplace, for example, has taken to allowing some positions to be performed from home—including mine.
Whats more is the sheer amount of moms who are also managing a household while also working from home full time.
I am one of them. To be honest, I’m not sure how I survived it! During the height of the pandemic, we were living in a tiny apartment. We were super cramped with four humans and one big fur baby. We had two kids who were learning remotely. One kid is crazy brilliant and has far exceeded by academic ability years ago. The other kiddo required a bit more hands on attention. My honey was one of the unsung heroes that still needed to go into the office.
Guess what did that meant?
Your girl was working while it by herself, and IT WAS HARD!
The littles are now back in a school building, but I still work from home. We’ve since moved into a much larger home where I now have a dedicated home office that I was able to pimp out to my liking.
How to Make it Work
I’d like to say that after working remotely for that past few years, I’ve figured out a thing or two to make it work. I took a purposeful approach towards creating an office space that worked for my family and I. Everything from the use of space, to the design and aesthetic. To help me create the vision I was pursuing, I used Upwork to hire a virtual interior designer to create a mockup. With her I was able to execute a vision that worked for me and my work needs.
I don’t want to share too much above, taking away from the list I created.
So, let’s jump into how to optimize for productivity while working from home.
1. Figure Out What You Need Now Vs. Later or Never
At the start of the pandemic, we were all just trying to make it! See my anecdote above about my working from my bed. We all created short-term solutions just to make it through what we thought would be a short time. That was a pretty extreme example of what worked for me, but I know other people had similar situations. If you haven’t already figure out what you need to at least be comfortable, this is the time to do it.
Is it time to finally clear out that corner with the treadmill that hasn’t been used in three years? You may have adjust to “leaving well enough alone,” but think about whether not it’s time to make the investment in allocating a dedicated workspace.
If working from home has become a mainstay in your life, start to figure out what’s missing to make working more comfortable. Assess the current area, your equipment, or tools and adjust as needed.
Additionally, find out if your job offers some sort of reimbursement or stipend to soup up your home office. I’m fortunate enough to have access to an Amazon Business account which allows me order pre-approved products and have them delivered straight to my house. It’s a total game changer. Obviously if I were to ever leave the company, I would have return everything.
“Total bonus points if you can figure out a way to separate out a work space from living space.”
2. Design your Work Space to Get Sh*t Done!
It’s time to put away the folding chair and table and upgrade your work area, seriously. You may not think the way your work space looks impacts your productivity, but it does. The more you can organize your main area of work and place structure around it, you’re doing yourself a true service. Notice I didn’t mention anything related to how large your workspace is, it’s more important that you’re using what space you do have effectively.
If you share a space with a roommate or your significant other, a great Zoom background and high-quality noise cancellation headphones are going to be your best friend. You may want to consider a dual desk set up if you have the space. Go the extra mile and toss up a some wall decor for an extra morale boost.
3. Organize Your Time Within the Day
Okay, so the same way you would allot time for travel or lunch (which you may or may not take), you deserve the same protected time at home. The time that you would have use for travel can now be used for maybe a quick breakfast, a workout, mediate, or shower. Whatever. The point is not to jump immediately into work and instead use it as a means of purpose. Take it as ‘you’ time before plugging away at the work. Creating an efficient and organized morning routine will also help out immensely.
Save your time and sanity by building in protected work blocks created for deep undisturbed work. Google Calendar has a really neat feature where any open availability defaults to focus time. I highly recommend enabling this feature if you have it open for use.
Another great productivity tip: cluster your meeting days as much as you can to build up to a “no meeting day.” Some teams within my organization have implemented no meeting days and I hear how amazing it is. I try to do with more informally, but I have yet to reach the meeting promise land.
4. Close Your Laptop & Shut the Door (Literally)
One of the best things about being able to work from home is the convenience, however, the convenience is also somehow the curse. You may find your productivity skyrockets because getting to and from the office isn’t as complicated. But don’t confused the extra hours with that being more time to work. It’s incredibly easy not have boundaries or you gray the lines.
Stop that, right now…
You still have core working hours where you should close the laptop and walk away entirely. Yes, I know how hard it is to want to send that one last email, but I promise you sending it the next morning isn’t going kill you.
Figure out what your boundaries are and stick with them. Once you’ve outlined those boundaries, make every effort to hold yourself accountable. If you can’t, I’m sure you can employ a close friend, family member or colleague to keep you honest.
(make sure you really shut whatever door you have, even if it’s just the laptop screen—you have my permission)
5. Get Your Family in Alignment
Alrighty, this may not be applicable to everyone. I’m thinking of moms out there who are juggling work and kids. I know the littles are back in a school building for the most part, but I have a unique situation where I’m located on the East Coast, but I actually work West Coast hours. What this typically means is that while I have lots of free time in the morning to make the most of, my work day is just getting started when the little trickle in from school. I cannot tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where the house is in total chaos while I’m involved in some pretty intense conversations—it’s nearly daily.
While my family and I are still working out the kinks here, for the most part, my littles know when and how they can interrupt me when I’m working so it’s not too disruptive to my productivity.
I recommend building in ten minute buffers in your day where you can check in on household matters if you’re the main parent at home.
You’d be surprised how much yelling you can do in ten minutes…
These tips may be things you’ve implemented but perhaps you’ve gotten away from them. Let this serve as a reminder there’s still things you can employ to increase your productivity while working from home, no matter how small they are.
- Figure out what you need now vs. later (or never)
- Design your workspace to get sh*t done
- Organize your time within the day
- Close your laptop & shut the door (literally—you have my permission)
- Get your family in alignment
Hopefully you’ve found some of these helpful as you go forth and be great.
Drop down below and let me know if you’ve tried these, and if so, how did they work out for you.
I’d love to hear from you!