For most of my adult life, I have dreamt about having a job where I could work from home. Now, during the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Governor's Order to close all non-life sustaining businesses, I’m finding myself among the fortunate ones who can continue to work from home. Now that I’m working from home, I’ve realized it’s not quite what I expected. Don’t misinterpret that last sentence, I’m happy that I’m able to continue working and grateful that the Law Offices of Peter J. Russo, P.C., had the foresight to implement remote technology before this situation. The fact is that working from home, rather than in the office is different, both in good ways and in bad ways. Over the past several weeks, I have enjoyed not commuting to work, wearing sweatpants most of the day, and the ability to make what I want for lunch. Conversely, I’ve learned that it’s not easy staying productive at home because I’m surrounded by more distractions than at the office. Since I began working from home, I have made some adjustments and I’ve identified some strategies that have helped with the transition. The following are a few steps I have taken to help keep me focused while avoiding distractions.
Isolate Your Workspace: For people with children, this may not be possible. I find that keeping my workspace, physically separated from the rest of my apartment helps me to stay on task.This prevents my mind from wandering off task and it also provides me with the peace of mind that no one will disrupt my files when I’m not there. If you don’t have somewhere you can devote to turning into your own home office, try to partition a corner of a room with the least amount of foot traffic. Explain to everyone in your household the importance of keeping your workspace organized and segregated. An added advantage is that this helps me maintain confidentiality because I know the confidential materials and communication I work with will be contained in a single area that I have control over. In many fields, maintaining confidentiality is equally important. Finally, isolating your workspace can contribute to your well being by removing reminders of work from the rest of your house, so you can enjoy your downtime.
Block-Out the Noise: Where I live, I share a wall with my neighbors on both sides. While I do not have children, both neighbors have multiple children and dogs. The noise generated on either side can last most of the day and it's worst when it’s coming from both sides at the same time. To drown out the noise, I’ve become familiar with a large array of YouTube channels that play soft music and ambient white noise. My computer speakers work just fine but for those of you in cramped spaces with others who may be bothered by this, you should consider purchasing a nice pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Maintain Office Hours: Nothing derails my focus quite like a phone call or text message from a friend or family member in the middle of the workday. While it’s understandable that many people are reaching out to check-in on the ones they care about during these unprecedented times, there is a time for that, and the middle of the workday is not the proper time. When I’m in the office, I don’t have friends or family members frequently popping in to say hi. The same is true when I’m working from home. I explained to my friends and loved ones that I’m maintaining office hours and that I would prefer not to be disturbed during those hours unless it’s an emergency.
Become Familiar with Technology-Based Communication: Now more than ever, people are relying on technology to communicate. There is a vast array of different products and applications available, on phones, tablets, and computers, which allow you to keep in touch with work colleagues and clients. Most are available for free or for a small fee. These products offer an alternative to holding a physical meeting with people. Video conferencing technology allows a multitude of people to participate in real-time sessions where individuals can see each other, hear each other, and fully interact without everyone being physically present at the same location. I became familiar with video conferencing technology about 2 years ago and have been using it ever since.
Make Time for Yourself:
Just like you don’t want your personal life encroaching on your work life, the same is true in reverse. Find the time to do something you enjoy. Enjoy a few hours of outdoor time when the weather is nice. Get away from your computer screen, put the phone on silence and concentrate on completing something on your personal To-Do List. Just last weekend, when the weather was nice, I got my garden cleaned up and ready for spring planting. It was refreshing to get outside and not have work on my mind. This time allows me to unwind and focus on my personal life. Self-maintenance is the foundation of a healthy and productive life.
By following these steps, you will be on your way to maximizing your productivity while working from home, without sacrificing the quality of your personal life.
Isaac Huggins at Law office of Peter J Russo offering online legal assistant during the COVID-19 pandemic so that you can preserve your legal rights while staying safely at home. Contact him at 717-591-1755.