More or less, we have all worked from home due to COVID since March 2020. I hope that you’ve read my previous blog post for some tips to enjoy working from home. This post is meant to be the ‘second dose’ to boost your work productivity, just like how the COVID vaccines work. ^_^
OK, if you haven’t found your ‘rhythms’ from working from home or you want to further improve your work productivity when working from home, then some deep understanding about human brains can come to help.
(1) Partition your day and build a routine. In a morning pre-COVID situation, you daily routine is like: wake up, get prepared, eat (or not) your breakie, commute to your office, work till 6pm (or later), commute back home, then enjoy your after-work life. If you work from home, the most noticeable difference of your new daily routine is still the same but your ‘commuting’ part is gone. This is quite a blessing because you may save quite some time and use it for other purposes; most people simply enjoy sleeping in!
This is also an issue for some people!
When you remove the commuting part of your daily routine, your brain cannot easily build up a new routine because the ‘space’ in which you are going to work is still the same as last night; in other words, you are still home. If you are lucky enough to wear your PJ for the whole day while you work, then it’s even worse. If you are not lucky enough to have a separate working space at home and you work in your bedroom, then you will find it hard to concentrate. This is because your brain has long associated your room (or home) with relaxation and sleeping; not with work.
In a recent coaching session, I taught my clients that he needs to ‘trick’ his brain to make his working-from-home life better and more productive. There are two simple actions to take, depending on your preference. First, replace your ‘commuting time’ with a walk around the neighbourhood. This casual work makes your brain think that you are going to work just like before. When you return from your work, then you can start your work routine. This walk also partitions your morning routine into two: one part is at home and the second is to start working with a ‘walking session’ in between.
Second, if you don’t like that walking idea (perhaps it’s only 8 degrees outside!), then you can choose to ‘dress up’ for work. Say, you usually wear casually when you work from home. If so, then try to wear when you used to wear when you go to office. By this, your brain will switch to the ‘working in office’ mode easily and then you can go from there.
(2) Transform your space for work. If you are lucky enough to have a separate working space at home, then this is not too much an issue for you. However, if your home office also happens to be your bedroom, then you need to do something to boost your work productivity. The simplest way is to tidy up your room into a ‘working office’ mode. For example, make up your bed and make it as tidy as you can. If you can make it look like a hotel bed, then it’s excellent. This stops you from jumping into your bed during the day.
Then, make up your room a bit for work. For example, bring a pot plant to your side table, bring your coffee to your desk, and tuck away those ‘bedroom stuff’ that are used to relax you. You can use ‘smell’ to make your room feel like a working space. Coffee or tea is one simple thing to do. Or, replace your lavender aroma candle with orange-scented oil. Any smells that can trick your brain to associate your current space with work is good. So, be creative here!
After you finish your work-from-home day, then reverse what you’ve done in the morning. Good to take a walk after work, and then return home to cook for dinner with family. Also, turn your space into the ‘bedroom’ mode and change into your casual dresses or PJ! Your relaxing evening starts from that moment!
I know some people who must wear a shirt in order to work from home. I also know some people who need to cover their beds with something to make the space less like a bedroom during the day. Try something that you feels like ‘office’ and train your brain to distinguish the working mode and the at-home mode, although you are always at home. Personally, I find the ‘walking’ bit very useful. ^_^
Enjoy working from home and enjoy your extra time with family (and yourself).
Dr. C. Richard Wu @ REEAConsulting.com
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