Finding your rhythm after Christmas and New Year’s is hard — maybe even harder while working from home. After all, for the last few weeks you’ve been enjoying time with family, indulging in holiday treats, and investing your time in holiday movie marathons. And while going back to the office can be hard, it’s even harder going back to working full-time in an office that’s possibly feet from your kitchen or bedroom.
The bottom line? The post-holiday slump is real! We’ve been there. But we’ve also discovered a few tips and tricks that have helped us stay engaged and productive — and that have helped mitigate the remote work blues during the first few weeks of January.
1. Create a timed checklist
We all know how easy it is to succumb to distractions while working from home. Because of this, creating a list of things you need to get done each day, assigning a time limit, and setting a timer could help you stay focused and on-task — especially if you have a competitive streak.
Compete with yourself to get things done on time! Keep yourself motivated by rewarding yourself with that extra time – if you finish something 10 minutes early, give yourself that time to take a walk, channel surf, or make a cup of coffee. Then get back on schedule!
2. Establish a rotating routine
Routine. That word alone may already have you tuning out. And while we agree that the same routine day in and day out will likely lead to boredom, hear us out: try creating two or three daily routines for your work week, and vary the days you do them. This mixes things up, keeping your brain more alert and engaged. Pro tip: so you remain organized, be sure to keep a calendar or daily planner with these daily routines written out.
3. Schedule “time off”
Don’t make the entire day about work. Give yourself moments to look forward to throughout the day. It might sound counterintuitive, but after weeks of relaxing and looking forward to the next holiday meal or activity, you’ll find it much easier to stay on task and focused during “time on” if you know you have “time off” planned. And what you do with this “time off” is up to you! Walk the dog, meditate, or catch lunch with your family. These breaks will help reset your mind and prevent burnout.
4. Identify quiet hours
Is Aunt Marge still in town and expecting you to take some time out of your day to puzzle with her? Or do you have roommates doing P90X every morning at 9am? Plan ahead for known disturbances. During these hours, focus on less mentally-intensive tasks. Or, use that as your “time off”. That’s why some remote workers like to start at 6am while others burn the midnight oil. For those who don’t like either of those options, plan to get the most done based on others’ work and school (and puzzling) schedules.
5. Diversify the work scene
Same scenery, different day. Feeling uninspired? Take your home office mobile for a few hours each day or a couple times a week. Working from a patio, park, or co-working environment enhances your focus and breaks up the monotony. You can even head to the lobby of your building to get a change of scenery, which really helps break up the day.
6. Stretch and exercise
If you’re like me, you haven’t even thought about exercising since before Thanksgiving. But nothing gets the blood flowing like a little exercise! And working from home gives you more flexibility to get flexible! Start a new routine of a few staircase reps, a stretching regimen, or a daily walk around the block. You can even head to YouTube and do some quick “8 minute abs” or yoga routines. Physical activity will jumpstart your brain and help break up a long stretch of work.
7. Prep your meals
After the holidays it’s easy for remote workers to face one of two food dilemmas – they either get lost in their work and forget to eat, or they’re snacking all day (possibly on Reese’s trees) without regard to healthy meals. Both can lead to low energy levels and lower productivity. Give your work from home meals the prep time they deserve! Either use free time in the evenings or weekends to make easy-to-reach-for meals and snacks, or take your full lunch break to cook yourself a meal.
8. Turn off devices
Does this sound familiar? One Facebook alert comes in from cousin Jenny with a pic of her kids playing with the gifts you gave them over the holiday. Suddenly twenty minutes have passed since you entered a social media black hole. When you’re home alone, it’s harder to control yourself when your browsing habits are on auto-pilot. Be mindful about your devices; consider an app like Offtime or AppBlock that will block access to social media accounts for a prescribed amount of time. With nothing buzzing or pinging, you’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish.
Have other tips and tricks for staying focused after the holidays? Tag us at @GoToSuite on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn! We hope you all see a huge boost to your productivity over the next few weeks.