Work From Home Routine Tips
5 Strategies to Boost Work Productivity at Home + Bonus Tips
As we continue to face these uncertain times, for those foruntate to be working, we continue to do so at home. Whilst most people have settled into their own ‘working from home routine’, some may be finding it a bit more challenging to be as productive. We’ve collected useful strategies to help design your work from home routine and boost your productivity.
Design your work routine
In these uncertain times it is important for our mental state to have a sense of certainty. When we feel uncertain we’re often vulnerable to feelings of overwhelm. This is because we are naturally inclined to resist change and instinctively attempt to maintain the status quo. You can refer to this as wanting to keep ‘control’, needing to feel ‘safe’ and ‘secure’, or craving for what was once ‘comfortable’. Whatever you call it, know that it is perfectly fine to want it. It is a need that needs to be met – and you can.
The world has turned upside down. It is therefore reasonable to consider that people’s working lives have lost their usual structure. Whatever your situation, the best way to create a sense of certainty is to maintain structure. You can do this by keeping to a routine. This is because humans are habitual creatures. Routines help to give structure to your day by giving you consistent actions that your brain considers as status quo. Your daily actions tell your brain that these things you’re doing will stay the same, and consequently the world around you feels like it’s somewhat ‘normal’.
Routines are something you can control. You can design routines to fulfill a lot of your needs and routines don’t need to take as much time as you might think. Take for example your morning routine for work. Getting ready for work, having breakfast and commuting. This has changed significantly for most. Getting ready for work may no longer involve the business attire you once wore. Maybe you’re sleeping in and skipping breakfast. And working from home now means commuting from your bed to your desk.
Whether you’ve traded in the suit and tie for trackies and a hoodie, or you’re short commute involves navigating all the kids’ toys, this has become the new normal. If it works for you and you’re more productive, great! If it hasn’t worked and you feel a bit out of control, remember you can choose to design your routine. Set up some routines that you know will make you feel like you’re going to work. Get yourself into the habit of taking five minutes to get into your ‘work mode’. And remember to also take the five minutes after work to get yourself out of ‘work mode’.
Once we feel our world is no longer overwhelming, we’re able to take the actions that would normally progress our work and our lives. The sense of certainty is what gives us the confidence to take on challenges and an uncertain world.
What are some of the simple and short actions that make up your work routine?
Add variety to your work life
On the flip side to routine is variety. Variety is what tells us that we’re alive. If everyday is exactly the same then we end up getting bored. The problem is that people tend to sabotage their routine and structure for the sake of alleviating their boredom. We may create needless drama just to fulfill our need of variety. It does this quite effectively (which is why some people love drama) but it doesn’t help anyone in the long run. If you find yourself wanting to pick a fight or start an argument, consider first if you have an underlying sense of boredom. Monotony will turn your routines against you.
But don’t worry, variety is here to help.
Variety is the spice of life! Making small positive changes in your day to day work won’t only break the boredom, it will help enhance your quality of life. Here’s just a few examples of what you can do. For work:
- Have themed online meetings.
- Check in with your colleagues about non-work related topics.
- Start a book/movie club.
- Hold a casual Friday/drinks evening.
- Have a mental-health buddy system.
- Share news (however big or small) with each other so that you can support one another and celebrate the wins.
What are some of the ways you’ve been adding variety to your work routine?
Christmas in July
Set up your workspace
Your workspace will be a space that you’ll be spending a major part of your day. It’s best to set it up in a way that’s as distraction free as possible. We understand that this may pose as a challenge for those with children, limited space or both. We know because some of our team face the same challenges. So, where possible, follow the guidelines below, but be forgiving of yourself if there needs to be some creative (somewhat make-shift) solutions to setting up your workspace.
Set up your workstation like you would at work. Have a desk, proper office chair and monitor. Looks like we’re in this for the long haul, so it’s important not to injure yourself. Employers should ask employees to do a self-assessment on their workstation and provide equipment employees need to set up a safe space. If you don’t have a desk, clear a flat surface like your kitchen bench, dining table or trestle table.
At the end of the day, clean your workspace. Put everything back in order, take away any cups/mugs, and set it up ready for the next day. This is especially important for those of you who have set up your workspace in your living space. Make sure the ‘workspace’ is ‘completed’ before you transition into ‘home time’. This will lead to having a very minimalistic desk set up where you’ll only be setting up the essentials (laptop/computer, mouse, keyboard, monitor, cables). If possible, consider a wireless set up to minimise set up times and avoid tripping hazards.
If you can, set up your workspace in a separate area of your home. This can help separate work time from relaxation time. This is important for mental health and keeping focused when you need to be (as it can be distracting to be in a living space if others are home).
Check out the following Work Health & Safety guidelines and advice from Victoria and NSW.
What are some of your favourite desktop items that make your workspace more personal?
Exercise for work productivity
Exercising helps keep us healthy, fit and maintain a level of mental clarity. It energises us to not only survive the workday, but it enables us to accomplish great work.
“Who has time for an hour of exercise?”
This is a legitimate question (especially for most parents). Some fitness gurus will tell you that “You must make the time.” This is probably too harsh of an approach (again for most parents). If exercising for an hour is not already a habit, then chances are that finding an hour for exercise isn’t high on your priorities list. Here’s where compromise and designing a routine comes in handy.
The main issue holding most people back from exercising is time. But how much time do you really need to effectively exercise? This can be different for everyone. Everyone’s bodies are different, but most importantly everyone’s goals are different.
To compromise in these challenging times, let’s look at the goal of maintaining mental clarity and mental health. In this case the Seven Minute Workout may be an exercise routine to consider. It’s a workout made up of simple body weight exercises that can be done at home with no gym equipment necessary. And it’s only SEVEN MINUTES! If you wanted to you could do it several times to work up a real sweat. But for the purposes of maintaining mental clarity, it does its job of getting the body moving and raising the heart rate. Thus, oxygenating the body and brain, and prepping you for a productive workday.
You can search online for similar at-home exercises that last from 5-40 minutes. Spice it up by doing a different workout every day.
What exercises or physical activities have you managed to incorporate into your routine?
Walk for clarity
Consider walking as a multipurpose strategy for work and life. It serves as exercise, time for quiet reflection, time for connection, and reconnecting with nature. Here are the many benefits of walking:
- It’s an easy form of exercise. Even though it’s light exercise the accompanying benefits boosts its effectiveness.
- You get fresh air and sunshine. The last thing you want is cabin fever! Get outside and get some much needed Vitamin D.
- You can use this time to connect with your family by walking and talking.
- Or you can use this time to be alone for some peace and quiet.
- You can use this time to hold some meetings. Brainstorming or talking through ideas can be accelerated with walks. Do remember to use caution when it comes to traffic and ensure you’re clear on the current restrictions.
- Challenging yourself to walk the same path faster than the last time provides a good challenge.
- Finding alternative walking routes can add some variety to your day and show you a different part of your neighbourhood you never knew was there.
- Walking and being away from your home helps you to appreciate and reconnect with your home when you return.
What are some of the benefits of walking you enjoy?
Personal WFH tips from the team
Here are some personal Work From Home routine tips from our team at RTO Advice Group.
Check your internet speed and if you can – upgrade your internet connection and hardware. For me this was upgrading to NBN and I also got a powerline wifi range extender as our modem needs to be at the other end of the house to get good connection.
If you’re someone who needs a reminder to take a break, set a timer on your computer to remind you to have a break. When not in the office you lose the incidental breaks you would normally have.
Work from home essential Systems:
- Instant messaging (we love Slack, but there are other options such as MS teams)
- VOIP phone app so you can answer the phones no matter your location
- Project management system (we love Wrike, but plenty of other options on the market) – this helps employees stay on track with tasks they need to complete and you can record time against tasks and generate reports.
Get ready in the morning in the same way as though you were going into the office. Perhaps more comfortable attire if you prefer!
WFH & Home-schooling #1 tip: Be kind to yourself. You are basically doing 2 jobs now instead of one! It can be quite a juggle.
Have your kids set up close by so you can help them as needed without causing too much disruption to your workflow.
Exercise/get outdoors in my lunch break – I walk the block or do a workout every lunch break to energise me for the afternoon and get myself away from the desk.
Stretch in the morning and afternoon break times – mainly neck shoulders and back stretches to release the tension through these areas from prolonged sitting at a home desk.
When I finish work at the end of the day I go for a walk to wind down. Then, when I walk back in my front door I feel like I am at home.
I work at home with my girlfriend in a small one bedroom apartment so we work from the dining/living room area. Walking at the end of the day is like my commute home.
What are some of your tips for for working from home?
It’s business as usual (from home) for us here at RTO Advice Group. We’re here to support you and you can contact us as normal on 1300 676 870.
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What a year 2020 has been. Our thoughts and well wishes go out to everyone who has experienced challenges and hardship.
Welcome to Jennine Cochrane. Jennine’s experience includes working in private RTOs, auditing for NARA, the VRQA, ASQA, and as a team leader at ASQA.
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