If you are like me, and like many others, who have a job that allows you to work from home (WFH) you should consider yourself lucky! During this Corona Virus pandemic a lot of people have lost their jobs, mostly because of the nature of their job which requires them to be present at the job site. We, the lucky ones, were able to transition our work to our homes, and continue with our daily jobs and be able to keep working during these unprecedented times.
That being said, WFH can be challenging for many, especially when it comes to staying focused and trying to get your job done just like if you were at the office. The challenges are many, which includes, but not limited to, separating your life from your work, staying focused, and staying motivated.
In this post, I will outline what I have done to try to stay motivated to do my job as a Software Engineer, and what you can do also if you start struggling with WFH for the past 6 months or so.
- Finding The Right Spot: This might be an obvious one, but finding the right spot to do your work is quite challenging. It doesn’t only have to be quiet to have meetings without disruptions, but also you have to find the right place where you can actually focus and enjoy doing your work. Try to find a place by a window, or a natural light source, as this will increase your productivity and give you a sense of time. Hopefully, you can find a spot in a room where you can close the door if needed to have your meetings, or stay focused on your task.
- Organizing And Cleaning Your Desk: Your desk is the place where you will spend at least 8 hours a day on it, so make sure it has all the things you need, and love, on it. Try to organize your home desk just like how you usually organize your office desk, keep it clean regularly and try to avoid clutter. A clean desk and neat desk is very important to stay focused and motivated, I personally try to clean and reorganize my desk at least once a week, and if I don’t do that I find myself not wanting to work or just less motivated to do anything. You can also invest in some gadgets/accessories that will increase your productivity and remain focused. This could include some artificial plants, a better keyboard or mouse, a noise canceling headphones, a smart desk clock, or even as simple as one of those large mouse pads. That being said, you don’t really need anything fancy or expensive to get you motivated, I know people who are at their most productive level when they are working outside with their laptops on their laps, so do what makes productive and happy the most.
- Focusing On Your Work: Now when it comes to focusing on the work itself, you can try to listen to music without words/lyrics. There are many playlists on YouTube or Spotify that are aimed towards productivity and they really help. I usually try to listen without headphones unless the neighbors are mowing their lawn or something. Also try to set a focus time, which you should not be interrupted. You can set your phone and your chat status to Do Not Disturb, set a timer for an hour or so, and just focus on what you have to do without any interruptions. When it comes to family, you can talk to them about that and have an agreement that whenever your door is closed for example no one should enter the room or interrupt you unless its super urgent. Maybe try to hang something on the door if you’re in your focus time so they know not to interrupt. I’ve head of people using a smart light bulb outside their home-office and turn the color to red when they’re in meetings or they don’t want to be disrupted.
- Taking A Break: I’ve recently read about the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management method that uses a timer to break down work. You basically work for 25 minutes straight, then take a quick break, and so on. While this technique is great, it can be hard to implement especially if you’re in meetings all day, or have work that require you to stay focused more than 25 minutes. The alternative to that is to take breaks as often as you can without affecting your work schedule or deadlines. For example, Make yourself a cup of coffee, and step outside for 5 minutes to enjoy it, and don’t just bring it back to your desk and drink it there. Also, and this is very important, have your lunch away from your desk. I know that a lot of people, especially software engineers, try to eat while they are working in order to save time and get things done. And while this will save you some time, it will eventually hurt your productivity and affect your mental health. You can simply eat your lunch outside, or even sit on the TV and watch something, just don’t be at your desk during your lunch time.
- Batching Your Work: The concept of batching is used a lot in time management, and it can help you stay productive at work too. It basically means to do things that are similar together at the same time. For example, when it comes to reading and replying to emails, set aside a time during your day to check them and reply. Maybe do it twice a day, in the morning when you login to work, and then sometimes before you sign off. This will prevent you from being distracted every time you get an email and will save you time in the long run since you don’t have to stop what you’re doing, read/reply to an email, then start again with the task you were working on.
I hope you found these tips helpful to remain productive and focused while you’re WFH. If you have other good tips that I have not mentioned here, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.