Raise your hand if you are still in the working from home group, or what I like to call the WFH group. Well, that makes (at least) two of us. In fact, it’s been nearly a year since I cleared out my office down in the Med Center – and moved it all into the dining room in our old house.
I traded in my human co-workers for my furry ones.
At the time, I thought that I would be working remotely for the maximum of a month. But, it makes sense that I’m still working from home almost a year later. I work at a cancer hospital and our patients are among the world’s most vulnerable if exposed to the coronavirus. In fact, when we are able to go back to work in the Med Center, it’s going to look completely different than it did before we left. I’ll probably be down in my former office only about one time each week. So, it’s safe to say that working from home is here to stay.
Since that Friday last March when I packed some of my stuff up, Aaron (my husband) and I bought a new house that separate office space for the both of us. Before we bought our house, I was setting up shop on our dining room table because my husband was working in our dual office space, and we kept talking over each other. So, my office was one of the first rooms we furnished in the new house. I’ll go over my office decor at some point, but I am thrilled to finally have a functional space to spend my Monday through Fridays.
This brings me to tip No. 1 about maximizing your WFH productivity.
Create a Functional Space
My dining room table was far from functional. The chairs were uncomfortable, it was right near the window where the landscapers would come (right in the middle of meetings and calls), we weren’t able to use our table because I had my work things spread out all over the place. It just left me with a really unsettled feeling- and it contributed to my stress. It wasn’t completely an office, and it wasn’t completely a dining room table.
Now that I have my own office space, I have everything I need, and I have I have it all in one spot. Printer? Yep, in my office. Pens, paper and notepads? Yep, right in my desk. Chargers? Yep, easy to find in my desk drawers. The point is, I was so spread out across my former house, nothing I needed was in the same location. Now, I have it all easily accessible. I also have the desk I need to work off my larger monitor, which is a huge upgrade from my laptop screen. I have a bookcase and shelving to keep hard copies of books I reference frequently, and it just really works for me. My husband and I aren’t on top of each other during calls, so we can both Zoom in peace.
Make your Home Office Cozy and Comfy
I spend about 40 hours per week in this spot – sometimes more. I did spend some money on the space because I knew I’d be spending a lot of time there. It’s also one of the first rooms you see when you come into our house, so it needed to be nice. In fact, my husband sometimes gets asked to speak on webinars, and he asks to use my space as the backdrop.
The point is, I’ve made my office how I like it, so I don’t mind spending my most of my days there. Now, I think I’m more productive when I’m comfortable in the space I’m in. So, I’ve added candles to make my office cozy, and I’ve got no hesitation lighting them during my workday. It feels like a treat because candles are a big no no when I’m in my real office.
If it’s cold outside, we will turn the fireplace on in the living room, and it just makes the whole house feel nice and cozy!
I’ve also got a foot massager in my office. Hey – let a girl live, okay? It was a housewarming gift my uncle and his girlfriend, and it has a hot and cold setting, and you better believe that I put that bad boy right under my desk. This is the one I have.
I also upgraded to nicer at-home desk chair. If I’m being honest, any chair would have been an upgrade from my dining room chair, and we were using some old chairs (see pic above – while an upgrade from my dining room chairs, still not quite ideal for sitting all day) that Aaron had for some of his staff – and they just weren’t cutting it. So, Aaron and I invested in some decent office chairs that feel nice on the ol’ back.
Take your Lunch Break (or Any Break)
This might be the most important tip to maximizing my working from home productivity. When I was in the office, I had a group of girlfriends who I would go out to lunch with a couple of times of week (at that seems like an eternity ago). Those lunches got me up and away from my computer. Now, a year ago, I felt the need to demonstrate I was being productive working 100% from home, so I was working more than ever. And, there wasn’t much else to do….
I was headed toward burnout, and coupled with the stress of a pandemic, it just wasn’t a path I wanted to head down. So, I reevaluated. What were some ways I could incorporate some time away from my computer into my days.
Some days, I just eat lunch away from my desk. Or, I’ll go outside and do a workout in my backyard. I might take a walk around my neighborhood or go on a run. Sometimes, I’ll take a walking meeting. The time away from my desk doesn’t have to be long, and I always do it within normal lunch hours in case anyone needs something from me. This has been such a game changer. I feel renewed and ready to tackle some projects when I hop back into my office chair.
Implement No-Meeting Time Slots
We have implemented a no-meeting time slot on Wednesday afternoons, which is fantastic. I know that I can work pretty much uninterrupted by Zoom most Wednesdays. To know that I have that chunk of time to set aside to work on some of the more challenging projects, is a lifesaver. Give it a try!
What are some tips that have been helpful for you?