Executive

10 Tips for a more efficient day of working from home

The advice given below is always useful for any given work day. But they are particularly important if you are working from home. In a normal work setting, much of your daily routine will be planned and controlled by others – at home it’s up to you to take charge. Gitte Koldtoft, a coach and public speaker, says this requires a great deal of personal leadership.
HK Privat, Jesper Pedersen

1. PLAN AHEAD FOR WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO EAT
In the office, you may be used to a staff canteen, fruit bowls and regular eating times. At home, you need to plan EVERYTHING yourself. We tend to eat whatever is readily within our reach. So make sure you have food that will energize you by preparing your lunch in the morning. And you might want to peel a handful of carrots to have something ready to snack on.

2. PLAN AHEAD FOR WHEN AND HOW TO GET SOME EXERCISE
If there is no commute or meetings you have to move to get to, your only exercise might be the 17 steps to get to your kitchen. So make a plan for when and how to do some physical activity during the day. Most importantly because it’s good for your brain. It needs oxygen. And you need to get outside. Try to decide if there are work tasks you can do on the move – such as phone meetings.

3. UNDERSTAND AND MANAGE YOUR ENERGY LEVELS
Have a meeting with yourself to learn which tasks require the most energy from you. One idea is to use a traffic-light system to manage your energy. Work out what is challenging for you (red), not so challenging (amber) and what recharges you (green). Using this insight, you can then plan your day so the traffic light changes regularly.

4. ALIGN EXPECTATIONS WITH YOUR MANAGER
Once you know how you work best, make sure to align expectations with your manager in terms of when and how you are at your most productive when working from home. This is important to avoid a guilty conscience if, for instance, you like to take a long walk mid-morning because it helps your energy levels.

5. MAKE AN EFFECTIVE TO-DO LIST
This is always important, but especially so if you struggle to get started with work at home where you need to be more of a self-starter. Your to-do list needs to be clear and specific, using verbs to tell your brain exactly what to do. And break each task down into smaller bits – especially if you are feeling overburdened.

6. GET AWAY FROM THE SCREEN
At home there aren’t as many natural interruptions to your screen time, so you risk spending too much time in front of your monitor. Think about which tasks you can do away from the computer. For instance, could you listen to a web presentation or join a meeting while out for a walk?

7. TAKE PLENTY OF BREAKS
When you work from home, you don’t get interrupted as much, so make sure to take some breaks during the day. At least once an hour. Decide what you want to work on from your to-do list, set an alarm and take a break when it goes off – no matter how far you have managed to get with that work.

8. STOP WORKING
A major problem is that a lot of people end up putting in more hours when they work from home. But remember that you are probably already more productive just from not being interrupted as much. So there is no need what so ever to work more hours on top of that. Cast off that guilty conscience and switch off when you have done your normal hours.

9. PLAN FOR SOCIAL INTERACTION – OUT OF THE HOUSE OR ONLINE
We need social contact to energise us – and feel part of a community. That goes for extroverts in particular. So plan a walk with a colleague. And plan some social activities on Teams or Zoom. It can be hard to get the same kind of natural small-talk going that you would normally have around the staff kitchen, if it’s scheduled online, so you might like to use some dialogue prompters about favourite TV shows, book recommendations and such.

10. BE EXTRA AWARE OF POSITIVE COMMUNICATION
It can drain you of energy to engage with communication that is not friendly or easy to understand. If you can’t see the other person’s body language, clear and friendly communication becomes even more important. Don’t, for instance, use the imperative if writing to tell colleagues what to do. It looks much harsher in writing. 

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