Productivity doesn’t have to suffer because you’re stuck working from home.

Before COVID-19 hit, it was merely a dream and afterthought to think: Wouldn’t it be great if we could work from home? We could sit in our PJ’s, drink coffee, and get our work done in peace without having to deal with that annoying coworker or neighbor who chews their food too loud during lunch breaks. While this sounds amazing, there is something to be said about “choosing” to work from home versus being “told” to work from home. 

Regardless of your situation, that work-from-home dream has become a reality for most of the population. 

For the time being, working from home appears to be here to stay for the near future. With most companies creating new policies and guidelines on allowing their employees to work from home, the landscape has completely changed. Our time is now occupied with Zoom meetings, virtual happy hours, and moments of utter chaos for the working parents who may have children attending school in the adjacent room. Working from home can and should provide advantages, but ground rules must be implemented to have this seed bear significant fruit. 

Why Setting Boundaries Is The Key for Success While Working From Home

As a result of the pandemic, Zillow, Twitter, Square, and many other companies have implemented long-term policies to allow employees to work from home indefinitely. In April, IBM conducted a study of 25,000 working adults in the US and found that 54% of the workers surveyed stated that they would prefer to work from home forever, if possible. 

The freedom, flexibility, and convenience of working from home are appealing for most, but that doesn’t mean working from home doesn’t have its consequences. Many find it challenging to take time away from their work because there is no dividing factor between personal and professional life, like leaving the office and heading home for the day. Having constant access to e-mail, phone, and instant messaging is a slippery slope because it’s easy to fall into the trap of finishing that last e-mail, putting the final touches on the project, or checking your messages to see if the sales pitch came through. 

While these problems seem to be a “normal” part of business life, people need to realize that there need to be boundaries to facilitate productivity and peak cognitive performance. 

Set Healthy Boundaries

If you want to maximize productivity and efficiency while working from home, you need to set healthy boundaries around your work and home life to create the right state of mind. 

The first thing that needs to happen is for you to set your work hours. While this may seem trivial, it’s quite crucial because it will provide the structure for your workday and give you permission to start and stop any projects you’re working on. It will also allow you the mental flexibility to take time away to check out for a break when needed. 

For those who are parents with children at home, how will you manage your time commitments with family and work? Is lunch always going to be at noon? What activities can the kids do without bothering you during your upcoming national conference call?

Planning your day before the day has started is vital for success. It doesn’t matter how closely your day resembles the plan, as things are always going to change, but it at least provides the structure and backbone for you to be mentally set up for success.

Determine How and Where You Want To Work

The second step is to determine how you want to work. Are you going to be working straight through the morning with no interruptions for the first few hours? Will you choose to have meetings in the morning versus the afternoon? Where do your priorities sit with getting tasks done throughout the day? Don’t forget about the power of using various tools like the Pomodoro technique to get down to business and maintain maximum productivity. 

These are important to consider, especially if you don’t have a set structure for your day, because structured days will equate to productive days. 

And while it may seem easy to set up your office in the corner of your room or on the couch, realize that you will be investing your 40 hours a week in this new location. Find yourself a comfy chair that can ergonomically support your back, neck, and body. Grab a desk or table that fits your body and posture for working on a computer or tablet for extended periods. Choose to work in a location that allows natural light and the potential for fresh air. 

These outcomes will have dire consequences on how you physically, mentally, and emotionally feel, so be sure to take some time to determine how you want your office to look and function to maximize your productivity. 

Find Time To Exercise The Mind and Body

Physical movement can be one of the most beneficial ways to combat work-related stress, along with improving our physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s easy to take this for granted, which is why scheduling time for taking a walk, working out, or merely moving your body can be so beneficial in helping you fill your cup and regenerate your mind to maximize productivity. 

Exercise is one of the most potent anti-depressants out there, and if we could bottle it up into a pill or drug, it would be the most efficacious and profitable blockbuster drug to have ever hit the market to date. 

Physical exercise is also one of the quickest ways to change your mental state, allowing you to perform greater levels of parallel processing and cognitive thinking, which is why so many people have their greatest ideas while walking, taking showers, and performing mundane physical activities that require little to no mental effort.

You must move your body to help you move your career forward! 

Enjoy Working From Home

We have no idea how long the country will be locked down, so why worry about it? Embrace the opportunities that lie ahead of you and know that you are the only person who can decide how you choose to handle our current state of affairs. 

And always remember… This too shall pass!