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Tips to enhance your productivity when working from home
Staying motivated, focused and productive can be a challenge when working in a different environment to usual, with plenty of distractions surrounding you.
After speaking to our team of scientists and HR experts, we have collated some important tips to help you make the most of your time and stay as productive as possible while working from home.
Structure your day
To keep yourself motivated and on-track, plan out your day in advance. Do this either before you finish work the previous day, or as soon as you start working in the morning. Ensure you include regular breaks (see below for more on this), and allow yourself some flexibility for any last-minute calls, meetings or tasks that need to take priority.
Stick to your hours
Without a commute, it can be tempting to work longer hours when working from home. While this is ok to do occasionally when needed, just as you may when working in the lab or office, it is important not to make this a regular occurrence. To avoid getting burnt out, stick to the hours you would usually do. Start work when you would usually arrive in the lab or office, and finish when you would usually leave to travel home. This will help you stay motivated and will allow you to utilise the extra time you now have, which would usually be when you're commuting.
Set-up a workspace
If you don’t have an office or desk you can use at home, make some space to work on the dining room table. This will help you focus, maintain good posture and make it easier to leave your work at the end of the day.
Keep in touch with colleagues
Regularly message, email or call your colleagues to check how they are and have a catch-up. This will help you feel like part of a team when working on your own, boost your own and others’ moods and allow you to help anyone who is struggling. Talking to colleagues can also help generate ideas. Programmes such as Zoom, Teams, Skype and Slack can help you keep in contact.
Take regular breaks
It is important to have a break from work and some time away from your screen, especially when you are in the same environment during and outside of work time. Taking frequent breaks will enhance your ability to concentrate; whenever you find yourself struggling to focus and procrastinating, take a short break away from your desk or workstation.
Some options for breaks are to take at least one half an hour lunch along with two 15 minute breaks, or it can be effective to break the day up by working for 30 minutes – one hour, followed by a five minute break.
Set yourself deadlines
A sense of urgency helps improve productivity. Set earlier deadlines for your pieces of work, or try setting milestone deadlines, where you have to have completed a certain amount by a specific date.
If you are able to, go for a walk or run at lunch or the start or end of each day, sit in the garden if you have one or open a window. The fresh air will help you feel more awake and energised, plus the change of scenery will aid your motivation and productivity.
Exercising each day or a few times a week can help you concentrate and improve your productivity. Not only will you get the physical benefits of exercise, but you will feel more energised and your mood will be boosted, helping you to look after your physical and mental health.
Keep in touch with friends and family
Just because you can’t see family and friends in-person, it doesn’t mean you have to feel completely disconnected. Apps such as Houseparty, Zoom and WhatsApp make seeing and talking to friends and family easy. Scheduling regular calls during the week and at the weekend will help bring some normality and aid your work-life balance.
Switch off at the end of each day
Once you finish work at the end of each day, turn off your computer and tidy your things away. It can be hard to completely switch off when you are still going to be in the same place where you have been working all day. Schedule in a workout or activity, such as calling friends or family or learning something new, for when you finish work to help you leave your desk and switch off.
Create lists of what you want to achieve while working from home, as you will have more time during evenings and weekends to learn and try things that you may not have had time for before. If you have struggled to focus on work or feel like you haven’t been as productive as you should, don’t beat yourself up. These are unprecedented, difficult times and all we can do is our best.
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