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Many offices are having employees work from home to help slow the spread of coronavirus. But when you trade your cubicle for your kitchen table, keeping up your productivity can be difficult. These eight tips can help you get back up to speed.

A tidy house, a tidy mind: If you want to work efficiently from home, you need structure. (Photos: dpa)

1. Don’t work in bed. 

If possible, set up a dedicated work space in your home, separated from the rest of your living space. “Otherwise it can be hard to turn off,” career coach Ute Boelke says. If you don’t have a separate room, use a divider or book case to help make a clear distinction between work and play.

2. Stick to a schedule. 

The schedule doesn’t have to be (and likely can’t be) as rigid as in the workplace, says psychologist Kristine Qualen. But without any kind of plan, it will be difficult to get work done. Consider when you work best — early mornings, or perhaps after a hearty breakfast. Determine when you’ll call it a day, and you’ve already got a plan started.

If you work closely with colleagues to cover certain tasks, confer with your manager and teammates to figure out when people are working and when you should be reachable.

3. Schedule your breaks.The biggest risk for people working from home is powering through the whole day without any breaks, career coach Bernd Slaguis says. It’s better for your stamina to plan pauses and stick to them. You might take a 15-minute break every two hours, or you might follow your working rhythm and take a break whenever you’ve completed a set of tasks.

4. Don’t get waylaid by domestic tasks. 

It can be tempting to tackle every little domestic task as it comes up, Qualen says. Emptying the dishwasher, running the hoover or putting in a load of laundry will distract you from the work at hand. It’s better for your concentration to resist those temptations until your planned breaks or for the evenings.

5. Savour your free time. 

At work, you might sometimes spend your breaks at your desk, but that’s an absolute no-no when working from home, Boelke says. “Whilst working from home, you can really treat yourself in a way you wouldn’t normally,” Qualen says. Have a cup of coffee on the balcony while phoning a friend, or go out for a walk.

6. Make specific goals each day. 

Sometimes your to-do list at work can seem endless. You can avoid feeling overwhelmed by prioritising each morning: What needs to be done today?

Some people find success with setting specific times for certain kinds of tasks, like making phone calls or writing reports, Boelke says. At the end of the day, check back in with yourself — what went well? What could you improve?

7. Keep in touch with colleagues.

Working from home shouldn’t feel like total isolation. Perhaps your team can set up a regular video conference to stay in touch, Slaguis says. But if social networks are not part of your job duties, it might be best to set your mobile phone to flight mode during the work day.

8. Honour quitting time.“The end of the day when working from home means consciously deciding that the things you haven’t accomplished can wait until tomorrow,” Slaghuis says.

When you’ve come to quitting time, you should put away your laptop and work phone for the rest of the day. There will always be more you could do, but when your workplace is also your living room, you’ve got to have the self-discipline to say enough is enough. Tomorrow’s another day.

What’s Neue With You?

The Neue team would love to hear your thoughts on this.

How are you coping with working from home? Do you have a personal story to share?

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“My Boss Is Incompetent, Help!” – Click on the photo to read Neue’s past article.