When we moved to southern California for my husband’s further education, my employer granted me the opportunity to tele-work, that is, work-from-home. It was very convenient. We were newly pregnant, and moving and looking for a new job, in a new city would have been a very big hassle for me.
I continued to work from home even after my daughter was born. When she was a baby, it was no problem. But as she grew older and started demanding more time and attention, I had to figure out a way to stay productive during work hours and keep her entertained!
Teleworking can be challenging for various reasons. However, here are some tips that helped me stay focused and industrious during these past 3 years.
Tips to stay productive when you work from home
1. Dress the part to feel the part
I work a very early shift – 5am – 1:30pm PST. I chose this schedule so by the time I completed half of my shift doing office work, my family was still asleep.😊 Due to my hours, I often start logging into my work systems, without changing, brushing, or taking a shower. And, I also notice that sometimes I can go all day without a shower because of how my day had started. Those were also my slow days where I felt like no matter how much work I did, I always felt behind.
However, to feel like I am getting work done, I began to dress the part. As soon as I got up, I made a habit to brush, shower and do the necessary chores including making myself some tea or hot water with lemon/home before I jump onto the computer. This made me feel more awake, alert, and productive
2. Keep a schedule
Even though my work hours are fixed, I pen together a quick schedule for me for the day. I prioritize any office work that needs completing and I do that early morning when my family is still snoring away. That way, I have zero chance of any distraction. I also keep a schedule of things I need to tackle during my breaks.
For example, my daughter wakes up around the time of my first break. I take my break and get her breakfast ready, have breakfast myself, and get her set up for her play with her play materials and books, etc.
Similarly, I keep another task to do during my other breaks and lunches, which helps me tackle things on the home front as well as take a break away from my computer.
3. Designated work space
This is very important! I used to work on my laptop however, my company gave me 2 office monitors since I began teleworking officially. I bought this desk and created a little office space in one of the spare rooms in the house. When we were in the apartment away from Sacramento, my office area was pretty much the living room space. However, after we moved back home to Sacramento, I use a designated room for my office work. Keeping a work space separate helps me keep a work-mode on. When I am in the office, I am working, and that means I am unavailable. This helps me stay productive.
Here are some wonderful home-office ideas.
4. Keep work area clutter free
This is a biggy! As the saying goes, “Clutter smothers, simplicity breathes”. Having a mess-free work space motivates you into getting work done. When you have a messy area, you are either focused on that mess, or busy looking through it, or simply feeling unmotivated to work. Clean space makes room to get other important things done, such as work itself 😊
5. Curb distractions or have a plan when distracted
With a little one always looking for momma, it can sometimes be difficult to focus on work. When she was a baby, I used to create little treasure baskets for her from knick-knacks around the house which was interesting to look through or play with while I did my office work. I also attempted a few sensory bottles and they worked wonders! She would stay busy for quite some time or find something else to do after that, and I was free to do my work.
As she got older, I let her enjoy free play more. I keep all her toys in a designated area where she can play, make a mess, and enjoy herself. For boring days, she has fun painting, blowing bubbles, chalking the pavement with grandpa, etc.
Apart from little ones, another form of distraction can be social media. With Facebook, Instagram, twitter, and emails on phones, it is very easy to get distracted by them. To curb these, I keep my notifications off at all times. This way, I do not get notified when someone messages me on Facebook or Instagram until I go to the app itself. I also use head phones to list to music that plays on my iPod so I can focus better.
6. Step outside
The most important thing to remain productive is to step outside and get some fresh air. Being cooped inside all day can be detrimental to the health. I know this from experience working from home for the past several years. It gets boring and tiring, especially if you have early mornings like mine.
I recently quit coffee also and boy has it been difficult! On days when I feel sleep deprived or have a lot to accomplish, I take very small breaks (3-5 minutes) and step outside with my daughter. She plays in the backyard while I enjoy the sun and some fresh air. When I return to resume work, I feel more energized and ready to work. Those few minutes away from staring at the monitor does help!