For all the people who thought they would never work from home because “it just doesn’t work”, welcome to life in 2020. For all those who thought working from home is the best thing ever, welcome to life in 2020.
It is hard, it is new, it feels alien. But over all these months of living in the pandemic, we’ve done what the human race has always done. We’ve evolved. Workers, businesses, and entrepreneurs alike have figured out how to manage.
If you’re middle-class and haven’t lost your job, you’re doing well. This blog post assumes you have work and are able to make a living. Here, we share 4 tips to be more efficient in a WFH scenario.
Tip #1: Protect your time with events and blocks
In normal life, you may have had physical cues or signals to manage your daily tasks.
- Traveling to and from office was your cue to turn “on” and “off” from work.
- Entering your home and seeing your partner or child was your cue to de-stress.
- Colleagues going for your lunch was your cue to get your own.
In a WFH environment, those cues don’t exist. The number one complaint of people WFH for the first time is that they don’t know how to turn off and stop working. The reason is not having cues.
Since you’re going to work from home for a while, you need to protect your time. Create your own cues. Take active control of your calendar using events and blocks.
There are some tasks that are one-offs.
- You may have agreed to a meeting or a casual hangout,
- or decided to attend a Toastmasters meeting,
- or practice guitar,
- or cook something special,
- or any other one-off.
Whatever it is, make a calendar event for it. By designating the time for special events, you ensure you don’t forget them. You also won’t end up having conflicting events and lose control of your time.
There are certain items you want to do everyday, such as exercise, food, and family time. These may not be related to work, but they’re critical to your physical and mental health. It’s a good idea to block a recurring time slot for these.
Blocks are recurring timeslots on your calendar for important non-work items. A good system of blocks ensures you live a balanced lifestyle and helps you draw boundaries.
For example, create a daily recurring calendar event called “Family Time” from 7 to 9 PM. That way, you won’t work during that time.
Tip #2: Create a dedicated working space
Our bodies are too good at finding and learning patterns. We pick up unconscious ticks and habits very easily. We don’t even realize we’re doing them, but they have negative effects on our daily work.
An important bad habit to avoid is working on your bed. Too many people grab a laptop, sit down on their bed, and work. The problem here is that your body already thinks the bed is for sleep. So, if you try to work on the bed, you will not be able to do a good job.
Even worse, if you work on your bed for a few days, your body learns the pattern and becomes confused. Your sleep will suffer, and that will have a huge effect on your health and happiness.
To avoid this, create a dedicated workspace for yourself. When you go to office, you have a desk there. Try and create the same situation at home. If you are lucky enough to have an empty guest room or study, make it a point to do all your work there.
Even if you don’t have a dedicated room (I don’t), get a work desk. Work only at your work desk. You may not notice it, but as your body finds a pattern, you will do your best work at the desk.
Tip #3: Fix your Internet Connection
Listen, nobody likes a bad internet connection. You don’t want to be the person who spends 5 minutes at the start of every meeting saying “Hello? Am I audible? Can you hear me?”
An occasional problem is understandable. Sometimes the power goes out or the connection is unstable. But if it becomes a pattern, you should talk to your internet provider and have a reliable connection.
Extra tip: if your computer has an ethernet port, consider using it. Connect your router and your laptop instead of using WiFi for a more stable connection.
Tip #4: Recognize that WFH is different from Normal Life
This seems obvious if you think about it. Most people don’t think about it. Life is different now, and we have to adjust to it. Many trainers and facilitators complain that virtual instructor-led training (vILT) does not have the same impact as classrooms.
That is untrue. We’ve learned that vILTs are different from cILTs, and we are the ones who have to adjust. When clients and learners are unwilling to adjust, the trainers who pick up the slack will be the ones who succeed.
If you find something that isn’t working for you anymore, take a moment. Think about why it doesn’t work. Think about what you can change to make it work. It all starts by accepting that the platform is now different. Only then can we enact meaningful change.
If you’d like to hear more of our thoughts on WFH, listen to our WFH episode from the A2Z of Facilitation.