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Apps to Stay Afloat While Working from Home

There is no shame in admitting it: We all need a little help right now. Even the most weathered of home-officers are finding it difficult to stay focused with all that’s going on. So, here are some apps to stay afloat while working from home with your family there

Keeping a stable work schedule can help you achieve some normalcy and stay on top of things while you try to navigate these #IStayAtHome times. Change into comfy work clothes at the beginning of your workday and make sure everyone respects the hours you assign as “office time”. And be sure to respect your partner’s office hours if you’re splitting responsibilities. Apps will help you stay sane, but you’ll have to stick to the plan in order for the ship to run smoothly. (And here are 10 things you can do to stay sane!)

Apps to stay afloat while working at home can make a big difference. Photo Credit- Emma Matthews. Unsplash

Apps to stay afloat while working at home can make a big difference. Photo Credit- Emma Matthews. Unsplash

Create a Quiet Place for Yourself

First thing’s first. Assign a workspace. It’ll help you get “in the zone” and (hopefully) it will make it easier to draw boundaries with your children and partner. Try to keep in mind that kids wander into rooms with shut doors so don’t stress too much about it if it happens.  What matters is for you to have a space that can help you “leave” – or the closest thing to it.

Move things around a bit. If you’re not sure of what to do, you can apply for a free session with designer and Feng Shui expert, Kelly Robinson. Among other things, Robinson will help you make simple changes that will significantly improve your mood and support productivity. Pinterest is another good place to find practical ideas to work with what you’ve got. A nice corner of your own will make you more motivated to get to work.

Administer Your Time

To Do Reminder is an app to set up simple reminders you can create with a speech-to-text option. With so much on your mind, the additional help will make it easier to remember everything to do while trying to manage the different challenges of working from home with your family. Remember the Milk is similar, and allows you to prioritize tasks, which will be important to keep you afloat.

Apps like Swipetimes can help you keep track of your projects, progress and the time you put into it. You can also set alarms to remind you of when to take a break or stop working. It has a punch-in and out tracking feature and can be synchronized with your Google calendar to make sure you stay up to date with deadlines and projects.

Apps like Tick Tick are more thorough, letting you set up a full schedule and use timers that boost your efficiency. If you want something simpler, you can use Marinara Timer, which is free and allows you to either customize your timer (and add team members) or use the Pomodoro method, which times 25-minute work blocks followed by 5-minute breaks.

There are apps that can help you block social media sites you visit often. Photo Credit. Though Catalog. Unsplash

There are apps that can help you block social media sites you visit often. Photo Credit. Though Catalog. Unsplash

Stay Productive

The truth is that at times like these, staying focused and productive can be a battle while working from home. Luckily, technology can help you deal with this too.

1Focus lets you make a list of sites you usually waste time on and then blocks them for you for your chosen duration (Simple Blocker works similarly). This means you won’t be able to wander over to Facebook, Instagram or whatever else is distracting you while you’re supposed to be working. Focuster is a little more ambitious and helps you regain your concentration (which takes about half an hour after being lost) through schedules, to-do lists and goals that help you be extra productive during office hours.

Don't miss my 8 Ideas to Make the Most out of Working from Home!

Manage Teams Successfully

When it comes to apps to stay afloat while working from home, anything that can help with teamwork is key. At a time when you are not spending any face-to-face time with your team, it’s super critical to have an effective way to connect and collaborate. So, if your company hasn’t set up a platform yet, or if you are an entrepreneur, consider the following options:

Microsoft Teams, for example, is a comprehensive, intuitive, simple to use solution with a great free version.

Trello allows a collaborative experience even while working remotely and lets you all keep everyone’s responsibilities organized. Similarly, Asana makes it easy to stay organized and meet team deadlines while everyone works from home.

You can also use apps like Doodle to schedule meetings when they work best for everyone on the team, something that everyone will appreciate.

Stay in touch with your colleagues throughout your workdays. It helps with a feeling of normalcy and provide some much-needed socializing while interactions are limited. Skype allows multiple users to join on video and voice chats, with options for screen sharing. In its free plan Zoom lets up to 100 users join video conferences with options to record, share and even broadcast for 40 minutes.

Identify apps to keep you afloat while working from home by timing your tasks and the breaks you take. Photo Credit- Djurdjica Boskovic- Unsplash

Identify apps to keep you afloat while working from home by timing your tasks and the breaks you take. Photo Credit- Djurdjica Boskovic- Unsplash

Other Useful Apps to Stay Afloat While Working from Home

There are other apps that you probably already now, things like Dropbox and Google Docs to share documents among teammates, WeTransfer and Terashare for large file sharing and Evernote, which will help you take notes in different formats and prioritize ideas.

This is only a selection of some of the most popular apps keeping all of us afloat while working from home.  Which ones are you using? What’s working for you? Please share in the comments!

 

Isolated and alone. Surviving the quarantine

The lack of physical contact and its unclear end, is a hot topic these days. If you are isolated and alone, this moment can be particularly difficult for you.

Perhaps being alone and isolated bring up unpleasant feelings. Knowing that you will not be able to visit people, sit down to have a coffee or a drink with someone, or that you won’t feel the hug of a loved one for a while can be a distressing prospect. Or perhaps you are puzzled about what is happening to you.

Isolated and alone doesn't mean you are locked up. Photo Credit- Joshua Rawson Harris - Unsplash

Isolated and alone doesn’t mean you are locked up. Photo Credit- Joshua Rawson Harris – Unsplash

Understanding what it feels like to be isolated and alone

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Have you had different emotions than usual these past few weeks?
  • Have any of those feelings you had before the pandemic intensified?
  • Could you talk to someone about what is happening to you?
  • Do you think that what you feel is more intense than what other people in a similar situation are feeling?
  • Were you already going through a vulnerable period? (Separation, job loss, mourning, illness, conflicts with your partner or family members, etc.)
  • Are you overly concerned about something or someone?
  • Do you have more physical issues than before?
  • Are you anesthetized and nothing affects you?
  • Do you feel able to get through this situation without professional help? If you can’t, have you tried to connect with someone?

If you’re having a tough time make sure to contact a therapist who can help you and guide you. You’d be surprised at how good it can feel to talk to a professional with whom you can be completely open about what’s going on with you.

Isolated and alone. Surviving the quarantine

Isolated and alone. Surviving the quarantine

Identify what makes you feel bad

1Feeling that the quarantine is permanent

No matter how many days the quarantine lasts, even if they it is much longer than you would like, always remember that this isolation is temporary.

2Feeling like you’re following an order

Social isolation is a way to take care of ourselves. It may be a rule or recommendation from the authorities of your country, but it is also a decision of each one of us to respect the isolation for our own good and that of the people with whom we live or interact, as well as for the good of the community at large. If you can think of it as everyone’s responsibility, you will feel better than if you think of it as a mandatory rule against your will.

3Feeling like you are “locked up”

It is essential to make the distinction between isolation and confinement. It is true that being quarantine means we are physically isolated most of the time, but we are not locked up. Depending on the city you are in, it is very likely that you can go out to buy food or medicine. Something you wouldn’t be able to do were you locked up. Keep this in mind because the feeling of confinement can lead to more anxiety.

Especially nowadays it is important to think about the way to “get out”, without ever leaving your home. Building an exteriority does not necessarily have to do with stepping on the street.

4Feeling like you are working all the time

If you are doing home office, in many cases working hours have expanded and the level of demand intensified. Add to that the fact that everything takes longer since you must also do other tasks that you didn’t have to do before, or maybe that you need to share the computer with someone else in your family. The tasks have multiplied but the hours of the day remain the same twenty four.

It is essential that, on the one hand you can take breaks and take care of your basic needs such as eating, resting, recreation, hydration, etc. And on the other, that, as far as possible, you do the kinds of things you normally did when you weren’t in quarantine. Meetings with friends, partner, dating online, etc. If there is one thing we can be grateful for is the easy access to video calls that allows us to stay close to others.

5Feeling like you are disconnected even though you are hyperconnected

It is easy to fall into feeling disconnected when you only communicate with others by text message or recorded messages. Try not to abuse the chat. It is better to choose one person every day with whom you can have a phone call or video call, than to be texting for hours with one or more people. We have become unaccustomed to talking on the phone with our loved ones. It is not the same to send an audio, where there is only one open channel and when nobody knows if at certain point one of you will become distracted or busy with something else, suddenly interrupting the communication. The voice provides a particular support when two people are talking synchronously. It makes you feel closer to each other.

6Feeling that no one thinks of you

This is not the time to make mental calculations of how many times you called someone versus how many they call you. Just pick up the phone and call the person you know will feel good to talk to. It is a time to build ties and not to erode them. Try to talk rather than complain because they haven’t called you. We are at a very particular time when people are very susceptible and it’s really impossible to know how this is affecting others in your circle.

If you are having a good time and enjoying being isolated and alone, take advantage of it, do not feel guilty. You can share your well-being with others and offer some encouragement and ideas.

Find moments to connect with yourself. Photo Credit- Zen Bear Yoga- Unsplash

Find moments to connect with yourself. Photo Credit- Zen Bear Yoga- Unsplash

3 additional tips to survive the quarantine alone

1Release your inner star

You can make home videos. They can be very funny and who knows, you may end up being a YouTuber influencer. Have a sense of humor. A patient of mine who lives in Spain, is isolated and alone in a house in the mountains. Although she is always very “proper”, she has found her funny and theatrical side and began filming herself. It has had a great effect on her and her acquaintances. Humor is a great tool to overcome difficulties.

2Renew your wardrobe

How about parading in front of the mirror, trying outfits you haven’t tried in a while? You can create new ones combining clothes in completely innovative ways. Take pictures of them to remember them when you can go out again.

Do you have clothes that you no longer wear? You can take them out of the closet and give them away or alter them. Change the buttons, cut the sleeves, the neck or anything else you fancy.

3Build a mutual promotion network

I’m sure you know people who are doing things and can’t promote them enough. Or those who have been trying to adjust their business or start a new one to make ends meet. You can build a network by connecting people to each other, and ask them to do the same. For example, an educator I know started to put together a WhatsApp group to offer older people support and free activities that help them with cognitive processes. She needed a professional brochure that she couldn’t put together herself. I connected her to a graphic designer who was looking to increase her work. The result was that the designer created a very professional brochure that attracted new clients to the educator. I know dozens of cases like these, especially at this time when we are all reinventing our jobs. Surely you can also find a way to help others.

Here are more creative things to do during the quarantine!
Isolated and alone but hyperconnected- Photo Credit Engin Akyurt- Unsplash

Isolated and alone but hyperconnected- Photo Credit Engin Akyurt- Unsplash

While we are going through a global crisis, as in any crisis, great opportunities will appear. By staying alert and activating your creativity you will be able to identify the things you must do along the way to go through the quarantine isolated and alone as best as possible and to take advantage of everything that can help you get out of this situation in a much better shape than you expected.

If you are looking for a professional community to support you, we are here for you!

Anxiety: What Causes it and How to Keep it at Bay

We are at an unprecedented moment in the history of humanity. A moment that requires us to take care of ourselves and in most cases shelter in place in isolation or with our family. Today we talk about anxiety: what causes it and how to keep it at bay.

It is the first time in history that a pandemic is taking place through a virus of such rapid contagion and long incubation in the midst of globalization. This virus can get to any of us. It makes no differences.

In our normal lives, there are many reasons why thousands of people die, but since they seem like problems of another country or region, we usually feel safe.

Do you remember a couple of years ago, the photo of a little dead boy in the arms of a rescue worker on the shores of the Mediterranean? It moved us all for a few weeks and then we forgot. The image had the audacity to penetrate our daily lives and yet it did not provoke more than a few minutes of emotion in our lives. Soon that death, like that of so many thousands of other refugees who continue to die at sea, was forgotten and no longer news.

The same goes for wars, famines and many other diseases like Ebola that are restricted to areas far from our homes.

This virus, which in the early days could be believed only affected a far- away town in China, soon spread throughout the world. And it has the particularity that it makes all of us equal. (In Argentina, for example, the first case we had was of a passenger who arrived in first class on a flight from Milan.)

Here's another post on how to overcome anxiety inside and outside of work
Understanding what causes anxiety will help you control it. Photo Credit- Priscilla Du Preez. Unsplash

Understanding what causes anxiety will help you control it. Photo Credit- Priscilla Du Preez. Unsplash

What causes anxiety and how to keep it at bay

When we talk about anxiety, it is important to explore what causes it and how to combat it, since understanding the cause will help you find solutions tailored to your situation.

1Feeling like everyone is a threat

First, a source of anxiety is that anyone can be a threat and infect you. You don’t know where the enemy is. It is an invisible microbe that has humanity in checkmate.

2Feeling that you are not in control of the situation

Many people feel anxiety in response to thoughts like, “I can’t control it.” That is, the idea that you can’t control it simply because you don’t see it. These past few days, many of my patients expressed this concern. If this is your case, let me remind you that the idea of ​​having things under control is just an illusion. Actually, you never have complete control of anything. There is always a margin of error and chance that makes us susceptible to things not going the way we expect. When this illusion explodes against an indisputable reality it makes us anxious because we suddenly feel out of control. The illusion that dissipates and makes is that it is impossible to have absolute control. Ever. Only until now you did not see this fact clearly clearly. Therefore, let yourself be guided by the authorities, and live one day at a time without trying to plan anything, even in the medium term. This situation is changing minute by minute and we will have to adapt to the new normal.

3Feeling uncertain about the future

Uncertainty also generates anxiety. But this is a time to be patient, and not try to anticipate anything. In other words, as I said before, manage your life minute to minute. We do not know when the quarantine will end, nor in what situation we will be. Right now it is important to think about today’s actions and projects and perhaps those for the next 2 or 3 days. Let’s put to work our creativity and internal resources.

If up until now you were someone who liked to have her entire schedule planned well in advance, take the opportunity to “break” away from your structure. Maybe you can use that ability to organize your closets, drawers, books, the kids’ room, or the kitchen cabinets. For the next few days you will have to make friends with uncertainty since it is not possible to do anything else. The sooner you do, the less anxious you’ll be.

One of the activities to keep busy at this time is to clean up your closets and organize your home. Photo Credit- Dhruv Patel. Unsplash

One of the activities to keep busy at this time is to clean up your closets and organize your home. Photo Credit- Dhruv Patel. Unsplash

4Having an excess of information

You have to be very careful with excess information. Especially the one that flows from unofficial media. We all have many chats where we get videos or audios. Some seem scientific others are funny. People bombard us with information. In some cases, we ourselves go looking for it on the Internet. That excess makes you crazy. Because it often involves false or contradictory information that is hard to weave out from the real one.

I suggest that you focus on the information shared by the official channels of your country, such as that of the ministries of health. If you don’t trust your own authorities, you can visit the World Health Organization’s (WHO) page. Establish one or two times a day when you’ll seek this information and then disconnect.

The coronavirus ends up infecting everything, not only physically, but mentally. If you allow it, it will take over your whole life. Even if you are tempted to be on social media constantly or watch the endless stream of news, do your best to avoid it. More information will not benefit you. Also avoid forwarding messages and videos to others in your network. Not only does it overload them but it also overloads the system which is already stressed by everyone being online all the time.

Learn what causes anxiety to limit these situations

Learn what causes anxiety to limit these situations

5Formulating apocalyptic ideas

Situations like the one we are in lend themselves to apocalyptic ideas. Maybe it is not your intention, but when you see that your neighbor buys food as if he were preparing to spend six months in a bunker, or you see the empty shelves at your local supermarket, you start to think that perhaps the apocalypse is indeed around the corner. Keep calm. We are not facing the Third World War or the end of the world. It is important that you stock up knowing that you will be able to go out again in a few days. I reiterate that if in doubt go back to well respected sources: your government’s official page or the WHO site.

6Overestimating or underestimating the situation

Another thing that generates anxiety is not being able to assess accurately what is happening because we don’t understand it. Let us trust that in each country there is a committee of experts advising the authorities.

It’s as important to avoid overestimating the situation by creating an apocalyptic movie or underestimating it to the point of putting your life and that of others at risk. If you follow the guidance of your local authorities, anxiety will drop substantially. It is not you who has to make the key decisions right now. Delegate that responsibility on those who understand the subject. Your responsibility is to abide by their recommendations and to use common sense.

Don't miss 10 things you can do to stay sane during the quarantine
Anxiety: What causes it and how to keep it at bay. Avoid overestimating or underestimating the situation. Photo Credit-John Cameron. Unsplash

Anxiety: What causes it and how to keep it at bay. Avoid overestimating or underestimating the situation. Photo Credit-John Cameron. Unsplash

7Feeling dragged down by the vertiginous moment

Another cause of anxiety is the speed of changes we are experiencing. Between the uncertainty and the confinement, it would seem that nothing contributes to calm you down. But think about this: When there are strong winds, the trees that survive are the most flexible. The stiffer ones will probably break. So stay flexible.

The news flow is ongoing and the information is not always consistent. It’s two steps forward and one step back. Maybe two days ago you were working at your office, and now you are doing remote work. Maybe tomorrow you’ll be laid off. We all have to adapt all the time. Don’t think for a moment that you are the only one who’s having a hard time adapting. To a greater or lesser extent it’s hard for everyone. What you should know is that as long as you want to cling to the way things used to be, you’ll have a worse time.

As a psychologist, I have always seen patients in person. In the last few days due to the measures taken by the government, they weren’t able to come to my office. So I offered to hold our sessions by phone, Zoom, FaceTime or any other virtual platform.

Many accepted the idea immediately and some decided to wait because they still don’t feel ready for it. Think how permeable you are to change. The new norm, for some, is an inaccessible monster. Try going slowly, taking on the challenge of doing something you have never done before. You may be surprised to see that it was not so difficult. And the monster was nothing more than a defense mechanism of yours to hold on to rigid models.

This can be a great time to rest. It is as if the world has stopped for a while, giving us the possibility to look each other in the eye, or to look ourselves in the mirror. Reflect on the direction our life is in and the one we want going forward. Let’s think about the things we have never said, and to whom we would like to say something. It is also a great opportunity to get bored. Yes, getting bored allows ideas to bubble up.

While we don’t know how long this isolation will take, it won’t last forever. At some point we will meet others again, we will hug again, we will kiss again. Perhaps by then we will have discovered abilities that we did not know we had. Perhaps by then, a painting created by us will hang on our wall. Perhaps by then, we have become friends with unthinkable people. Or we have become wiser, more cautious, with some permanent habit changes, truly valuing leisure time.

There is so much to do …

Be flexible. Photo Credit-Mahkeo. Unsplash

Be flexible. Photo Credit-Mahkeo. Unsplash

10 Things you Can Do to Stay Sane During the Quarantine

If you want to remain sane during the quarantine, when you’re likely working from home and living with your family in closed quarters, you must quickly incorporate new routines. Here I share 10 things you can do during the quarantine that will hopefully awaken other creative ideas to keep you and your family in the best of terms.

For some time now remote work has been a common practice in a large number of companies. But what makes this situation unique is that now, while you’re home working, so are all the members of your family who normally may be in school, at work or doing other activities.  Add to this the fact that you may not be able to take a break and grab a cup of coffee with a friend or hit the gym, and you have the perfect storm to be overstressed.

Without minimizing the seriousness of the current situation, I invite you to remember how many times you have longed to have more free time to do countless things like cleaning up your closet, reading a book, watching movies, or taking an online course. And above all, to spend quality time with your loved ones.

Taking into account that the isolation can last several days, I suggest some activities that can be sustained over time.

Spending quality time with your family. Photo Credit- National Cancer Institute. Unsplash

Spending quality time with your family. Photo Credit- National Cancer Institute. Unsplash

10 Things you can do during quarantine with your family

1Read aloud

Here’s a personal experience that may help you. When I was in high school I had a literature teacher who read novels to us. She did it with in a very histrionic way. She’d only read a few pages and stopped in a cliff hanger. Although they were young adult novels, she managed to create the climate to keep a group of 15 years-old intrigued for a whole week. (Along the line of what Netflix or Amazon series do today.) I remembered that teacher all my life for instilling in me the value of reading and in turn, I did the same with my young children, to whom I read stories every night. We put together what we called the “storybook corner”, which was a hallway halfway between the rooms of my two kids. Every night, before going to bed, they brought their pillows and I read to them. It was part of beloved ritual.

You can also carry out this activity with adults. There is something very special about reading aloud and having a book read aloud to you.

2Share old stories

Is there a story in your life that you haven’t told your family yet? As simple as it may seem, it may be a nice moment to share it. There are always things that others don’t yet know about you. Especially if it is your partner or your children who seem to know everything there is to know about you.

3Write letters

What to do during the quarantine. Photo Credit- Annie Spratt. Unsplash

What to do during the quarantine. Photo Credit- Annie Spratt. Unsplash

How long has it been since you last used pen and paper to write a letter? Whether it is to someone who lives in another country, or someone who lives in your own town and who you don’t see often. Think of your old school friends. Is there anyone that you stopped seeing long time ago and with whom you would like to reconnect and still have not done so on Facebook?

4Review photos

Those old printed photos of your childhood, the ones you didn’t digitize, can lead to beautiful moments. While you digitize them, or organize them in albums, you can go through them with your partner, children and even parents who remind you of stories you didn’t know. Write down the names of the people who appear on the picture. And you can even add a paragraph on the back that reminds you of when it was taken. Another option is to take advantage of this moment to create books with digital photos. It is a fun and time-consuming task that you or your children can undertake.

5Retrieve the old board games

Another beautiful activity to do during quarantine is to play board games. Our dependency on virtual life has made us forget those old games. Cards, dice, Monopoly, Backgammon and so on are among many games that our children may not even know about. Show them. Dust them off and put them to work. Both with children or between adults, you will be surprised at how much fun they were and how much you can enjoy playing them again. You can do championships that carry on from one day to the next.

6Drop down and play

How long has it been since you drop to the ground to play? Whether you are with children, with other adults or alone, this is a great opportunity. Assemble puzzles, Lego castles, Barbie stories, or whatever you like. You can make collages or pictures with recycling material, or crafts with discarded objects.

7Put together a band

From conventional instruments such as guitar, piano or drums, to homemade and invented instruments. Pots and pans, glasses with different amounts of water, rattles made out of plastic bottles and rice, combs made out of aluminum foil. You can search the Internet to find tutorials or let your imagination run wild.

Cooking together is something you could do during the quarantine. Photo Credit- Toa Heftiba. Unsplash

Cooking together is something you could do during the quarantine. Photo Credit- Toa Heftiba. Unsplash

Time to get a little dirty

8Create a vegetable garden

Being in close proximity to soil, even if it is just with a few pots, can make you feel great. You can germinate beans and then move them to soil or plant seeds alone or with your kids. You can even grow some aromatic plants or herbs to use in the kitchen. Taking daily care of a small garden and seeing plants grow is extremely gratifying.

9Cook together

Cooking can be very enjoyable and creative. Even teaching children to collaborate in daily housework is a way to educate them, not only for this atypical situation, but for life in general. Be sure to rotate activities so you avoid creating stereotypes where girls always do certain things and boys other things. (Example, girls set the table and boys wash the car.)

10Learn to compost

During quarantine you will have a higher volume of garbage in your home. Take this opportunity to learn how to compost. In addition to increasing your home’s sustainability, you will send your children a clear message about the importance of caring for the planet. There are many tutorials to help you along the way.

During the quarantine we all have to change our habits

As you can see, this isolation will require a change of habits on everyone’s part. From hygiene, social interaction, to everyday life. It is an excellent opportunity to revalue the connection with our loved ones, as well as giving rise to creativity and using that time that you so longed for in a productive way.

Reading out loud during the quarantine can help you spend quality time together. Photo Credit- Kinga Cichewicz. Unsplash

Reading out loud during the quarantine can help you spend quality time together. Photo Credit- Kinga Cichewicz. Unsplash

 

8 Ideas to Make the Most Out of Working from Home

It’s not for everyone. I’ve met people who look at me in complete shock and horror when I tell them that I spend most of my time working from home. To some, the prospect of losing things like the social interaction and usual distractions of a day spent at the office, is simply unthinkable.

I really can’t blame them. It’s easy to lose track of time and blur lines when your workspace is also your home. Easy to either spend too much time working or to fall into procrastination with the excuse of some chore that just needs to get done. Still, it’s achievable. And all that time that’s not wasted in traffic, commuting back and forth can leave you with some unexpected – and much appreciated – free time.

I’ve been working from home for a few years, which has given me enough time to do it all wrong and learn a little bit from my mistakes. I’m not going to say I never surrender to the appeal of my favorite couch, but I know how to prioritize and how to be productive and respect my workspace and schedule.

Working from home. Photo Credit Ella Jardim. Unsplash

Create your own space within your home. It helps keep boundaries.Photo Credit Ella Jardim. Unsplash

The Subtle Art of Working from Home

1Designate a work space. Stay out of your bedroom unless it’s absolutely necessary, that way that area can be a getaway from the workspace. If you have the room to create your own office, do it. If not, find a corner of the house and make it your own. A designated work area will also make it easier for others to respect that this is where you keep your work stuff. A concept that can seem a little bewildering to office goers.

2Have a morning routine.

Have breakfast, take care of personal calls or emails, shower and change before starting the workday. You obviously don’t have to dress up, but it helps to make the beginning of the day real. If I don’t change into street clothes, I will very rarely manage anything productive once I’m done with the more pressing work. This is how you end up with last-minute assignments that can take over your entire weekend.

3Schedule your work ahead of time. I’m easily distracted, so anything that brings a little order to my day is appreciated. Look at what needs to be done through the day and set goals before you decide when to take breaks and when to stop working for the day. It helps to have a fixed work schedule if the nature of your job allows it. It may be impossible to avoid projects that demand more and may sometimes entail working late or on weekends but administering deadlines can let you plan ahead. In order to do this, you need to set clear expectations with your boss, your clients and yourself.

4Prepare your lunch ahead, just as if you were planning to leave the house. There are two reasons this is a good idea. First of all, it makes you keep up the illusion that “you’re not home”, which can be key in concentrating. Second, it can save you time, money and keep you away from unhealthy meals and snacks. You can assign time to get out of the house and get something to eat now and then, but your pocket will probably appreciate occasionally staying in. To avoid overdoing it with the snacks, (it’s easy to fall into this trap when you’re so close to your very own fridge and pantry) prepare some for the day as well. Also? Research shows that when we choose all our meals for the week at the same time, we tend to have a healthier and more varied diet.

5Avoid family and friends during work hours. My mother has a really hard time understanding that working from home doesn’t mean I’m just hanging out at my place, a misunderstanding she shares with friends who have free time during working hours. Likewise, some friends have mentioned how important it is for their kids to understand that mommy’s working, even if she is home.  Avoiding them will not only make you more productive, it’ll help them understand that your work hours must be respected. Just as they would be respected if you were at the office. Having your own office space also helps set boundaries and avoid interruptions from your children, partner and other house guests.

6Get out of the house. Make sure that you make time to do other things, like taking a walk, going to the gym or having lunch with work colleagues. It helps you clear your mind and it’s important when so much time is being spent in your house. Remember, vitamin D is important so make time to step out into the sun. A certain flexibility comes with working from home and that can usually mean you can take that class or wander off for a couple of hours to do something that will make you happy.

7Take advantage of projects that allow you to collaborate with others. While there are many upsides to working from home, creating your own schedule and being in charge of your own time, it can be pretty isolating too. Being part of a team and the interaction that comes from it is good for our mental health and can motivate us to work harder, providing a fresh perspective that’s not always available when doing home office. Look for projects that will allow you to collaborate with other people and make time to meet up for lunch, coffee or drinks every now and then. You don’t always need to be confined to your workspace. If you collaborate with larger companies, it may be a good idea to stop by the office to say hello now and then.

8Stay in touch. Make sure you’re talking to the people you work with, especially when you’re a part of an international team with multiple time zones. Differing time zones can make it harder to keep up with everyone, especially if you’re trying to stick to your work hours. Try to schedule conference calls and video chats at times where all, or at least most of the team can join. If it’s not up to you, be open to them and try to engage and make your presence felt. It’ll help you and others to feel like a part of the team, even if you and others are working remotely.

Working from home has its advantages. You decide when to take a break. Photo credit: Free Stocks. Unsplash

Working from home has its advantages. You decide when to take a break. Photo credit: Free Stocks. Unsplash

The Benefits of Working from Home

While some people feel that working from home would affect productivity negatively, a robust two-year study held by Nicholas Bloom, from Stanford University, proved that people in a work-from-home situation actually worked full-shifts and found it easier to concentrate while working from home.

The main problem for most people is how isolating it can be. Like I said, it’s not for everyone. Some people need the very specific aspects of a more conventional work environment to be productive. However, more and more companies are finding that the rise in efficiency of their home office teams and the money that can be saved by reducing office space might be worth looking into.

If done right, home office can make you the master of your own time. It takes some effort to perfect it, but you can learn not to procrastinate, to choose the right collaborations and the best people to collaborate with. It’s all about avoiding distractions, managing your time, sticking to your priorities and building a good relationship with the people you work with.  In any case, it’s looking more and more like it could be the standard for the future, so this is a good time to start exploring the benefits!

 

Working from home. Photo Credit Emma Matthews. Unsplash

Prioritizing and sticking to your plan is an important part of being productive. Photo Credit Emma Matthews. Unsplash