Summer has officially begun! The sun is shining brighter; the temperature is soaring, and the temptation of lazy summer afternoons has become even more palatable. It's hard enough to stay focused when the weather is gorgeous while chained to our office desks. What is even more difficult is staying centred while working from home. Working from home has been a new reality for many of us for a few months now, a reality that is likely to become more permanent.
I've gotten used to working from home; this is not my first rodeo. Throughout my career, when I was in Toronto, I mostly worked from home. I developed systems to help me stay focused because the distractions tend to pile up when you're in the comfort of your abode. I always found summer especially distracting. One of my tricks used to be a two-hour power session at a local coffee shop or restaurant. Unfortunately, due to our current reality, that is currently impossible.
At Learn French with Alexa, some of us worked from home pre-pandemic, while the rest of us were office-based. We made a move to working from home in late March following government direction to ensure the safety of all team members. The day we "moved out" of the office was quite a sad one because we did not know when next we would work together physically again. Tears were shed as we drove off to prepare for our new way of life. When I arrived home that day, I did not get much done, I, like everyone else facing this uncertainty, was overwhelmed.
The following week, however, I made sure to put systems in place to ensure that I maintain the same level of productivity at home, like at the office. Below are a few of the things I implemented to help me stay productive. I developed those tips over time (I have roughly three years of work from home experience). I hope they will help you.
Tip #1: Have a morning routine
Lazy mornings are the best, who doesn't love them? It's essential, however, to be smart about how you spend your morning because it sets the foundation for the rest of your day. With morning commutes (for some makeup and hair) cancelled, there is a bit more time for a lie-in. Structure your mornings so that enjoying an extra hour of sleep does not disrupt the rest of your day. Perhaps now is an excellent opportunity to squeeze in a morning workout or an hour of leisure reading in bed. Enjoy your breakfast, bask in the glory of the beautiful morning sunshine. All those little pleasures, however, should have a beginning and an end. You should make sure to shower, be dressed and ready to start work at your usual time. Working from home is not an excuse to work in your pyjamas, you wouldn't show up to the office that way. Try to maintain a similar level of professionalism in all that you do, even if your boss is not there to watch.
Tip #2: Have a Dedicated Workspace
Do not succumb to the temptation of working in bed. This kind of comfort will only lead to distraction. I've enjoyed seeing many people on social media carve out dedicated workspaces in their homes, even those with space restrictions. Having a dedicated workspace will help you keep work and home life separate, which is very important to maintain one's sanity. I have turned my dining table into command central for all things work-related. I also purchased a wipe clean weekly planner to help me stay on top of everything. Occasionally, I have to take meetings in the bedroom or kitchen when my husband is also on a call. I feel the difference when I'm in a different space, and I tend not to be as focused. I need to maintain my dedicated workspace. You should give it a try; I hope this tip helps.
Tip #3: Structure your Work Hours
I found myself working a lot more than I usually would the first month. The lines were blurred, and the work-life separation was lost. I felt as though I had to put in more hours because I was not at the office. At times (I still do that sometimes) I would start work at 8 AM, whereas I usually begin at 9 AM while at the office. I would also eat lunch while working. I had to learn to structure my work hours and remind myself to take an hour for lunch. I had to set and respect those boundaries to avoid the feeling of being overworked. Make sure you stop working when you say you are going to, and to start back up at the appointed times.
Now that the weather is incredible, it is essential to allow yourself time to enjoy it. Go for an early morning walk or run before work, at your lunch al-fresco. If your workplace has reduced summer hours, make sure your productivity does not suffer from it. Try to limit distractions by ensuring your comfort while in "working" mode. Have a bottle or glass of water/tea with you, sit on a comfortable chair, air things out... the possibilities are endless.
I hope these tips will help. As we all continue to work from home, let's make sure also to keep an eye on our mental health. If you need a break, talk to your boss and come up with an arrangement.
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We have an expression in France which is 'faire le pont'. This expression literally means 'to do the bridge' but actually mean to bridge the gap between two non-working days, in order to have an extra long weekend break.
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