Working from home – tips and tricks for staying productive

Last week we talked about the best way for employers to support and manage remote workers. This week, we’re going to talk about working from home, staying focused and avoiding pitfalls during the quarantine. Most importantly we want to remind everyone reading this that during times of crisis and stress, preoccupation with perfection will do more harm than good. Everyone is dealing with difficult times and we need to be patient and understanding with the stress responses that will come naturally. There will be days we feel productive and self-assured, as though the world is almost back to normal and then there will be days we’ll be binging television and barely sweeping the crumbs off our chest in an existential coma; both are completely normal.

The first few days working at home are either extremely productive or a textbook fish out of water story. Nobody does it exactly right as the productive often burn out quickly and the floundering have trouble staying on track. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t write this piece first. Everyone struggles in the beginning. Regardless of how you did on those first days, you can recover or get back on the horse and find balance.

Find balance.

Working from home can make people feel like they’re always on duty. Especially if you work freelance or other styles that aren’t conformed to a set schedule. If you have set work without set hours that you need to be available, we encourage you to set strict work times, regardless of set up, to start to find a routine. Working when you’re “at work” and not working when you’re not at work seems like a no-brainer but with little else to fill our days, we can swiftly find that our work hours drift on into our personal time.

Avoid distractions.

Facebook, twitter, breaking news alerts, and social connections can drain hours of time in a span that feels like minutes. It’s more problematic now because we’re starved for connection and conversation. Being diligent and not even garnering a look at distracting websites is the first step. Don’t forget that in our current times, our friends and family have more ways to reach us than at any point in history. If there’s an emergency, you’ll probably know immediately. There’s no reason to stare at social media waiting for the bad news. If your family and friends are anything like mine, they’ll find you and clue you in. Because of that, it’s important to set healthy boundaries with your family. You’re not off-work and they should respect your work hours as they would if you were in an office. Don’t self immolate if you find yourself having wasted time with family, as we said, it’s tough out there right now and comfort is important and valuable; just don’t make a habit of self-distracting when you should be working.

Keep a sense of community.

Using chat software like Slack or Google hangouts can keep a strong connection between you and your coworkers. Don’t be afraid to lean on each other, admit your struggles and ask for help when you need it. Maintaining your work relationships will make your time go faster and reinforce that everyone is struggling and should be taking care of each other. Trading tips and tricks, offering help and banding together helps to remind us that we’re part of a greater whole and we have support when we need it.

Engage with managers.

As we wrote last week, managers are struggling with the changes as well and we encourage everyone to openly discuss issue they’re having especially, and we cannot stress this enough, especially if you’re dealing with home-schooling children or family members with illnesses. There can be creative solutions to make it easier for you to be productive but you won’t know unless you ask. Perhaps you can work early in the morning and have off in the afternoons for schooling. Maybe a late start would help so you can have breakfast and morning time to manage small kids or medical needs. Even a “work two hours – off two hours” schedule can open time during the day to deal with other obligations. We stress the importance of articulating your needs and asking directly for the changes that would benefit you the best. You’re living in your world, explain the situation and your best practices to deal with it and see how your manager can help.

Sit down and work.

That’s the real advice. Work when you’re working. Unless you’re in a new position you should be familiar with your daily tasks and routines. Just being in a home office doesn’t mean you’re home and if you wouldn’t kick your feet up and watch soap operas, then you shouldn’t do them while working. Set manageable breaks that have a definite time. Lunch is the time it takes to make your lunch, eat and relax. Breaks last the length of a walk, or a sitcom. Pick something that ends and follow that. Grabbing a book is fine if you mark your time by chapters but problematic if you just drift off distracted. Set a routine and do your best to stick to it. It won’t be easy initially but you’ll find the more you try to adhere the easier the schedule becomes.

Be patient.

Don’t hold yourself to other’s standards. Lives during the pandemic are as varied as the jobs being done at home. As long as you’re getting work done, you’re doing okay. If you have to work in your backyard so your kids are able to play, do that. If you have to work after 8:00PM because your kids are asleep, that’s great. If you need to send emails from the couch because you just can’t face the issues of the world, be patient and know that we’re all doing the best we can.

Times are complicated and difficult. BCS Placement is here to help you find the right candidate or position for your logistics career, but we’re also part of the community adapting to a whole new style of work. We’re a great team across roads, skies and oceans who are doing our best to stay proactive and productive. If you need help navigating the times and feel like you aren’t getting supported, reach out and let’s see if there’s a better fit somewhere else, or just make a plan to help you find success.

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