Excellent.org: shows a Laptop and screen on a table- symbolize the working space in the home office

5 tips to master the home office

Home office – a state in which unexpectedly many people are currently in. In just a few weeks, the corona virus has turned Germany upside down and changed our everyday lives. Many are in quarantine, all are advised to self-isolation and social distancing. The house should only be left with good reason and if possible employers should allow home office. For some this does not mean a big change, others will have to work from home every day instead of selected days per week. For most, however, it is a very unfamiliar situation and an enormous change. That’s why we would like to share a few tips this week that will help you to be productive in your home office and to master all tasks.

These are merely suggestions and ideas. Everyone works individually and for everyone different things work differently well. In addition, the home office needs some getting used to, especially because it is currently such an unplanned situation. First of all, a new routine has to be created where all processes can be improved bit by bit.

TIP 1: Create a workplace with the right atmosphere

The prerequisite for a functioning routine at the workplace is of course the workplace itself. It doesn’t have to be a whole room, but it should be a fixed place that your brain associates with work in the coming weeks. Make sure you have everything you need here, because without functioning equipment even the greatest efforts can be in vain. Talk to your supervisor to find the best possible solution.

Once you have found and established a workplace, also make sure that any distractions are minimized. The human brain cannot concentrate for long, jumps back and forth and takes every distraction as an opportunity to digress[1] Distractions can be sounds, but also objects that trigger a stimulus in the brain (example: you see a book – you want to turn the pages).

Therefore, it is best to tidy up your table and banish everything that you do not necessarily need to work. In the next step, make it clear to other people present that you have to work and therefore should not be disturbed. If necessary, reduce noise with earplugs or headphones, for example.

TIP 2: Separate leisure and work as much as possible

In addition to the separate workplace in your own home, you should also try to separate work and leisure. Especially in the beginning it can help to follow the usual morning routine and work in normal work clothes instead of jogging pants. In this way you can signal to yourself that the working day has begun.

Excellent.org: 5 tips to master the home office, the picture shows someone sitting on the couch with a laptop. with their feet on the table

No household tasks should be performed while working, even if it would only take a few minutes. Prepare a piece of paper on which you write down everything that needs to be done privately. This will clear your head and you can concentrate better on the essentials.

The same applies to the end of the day. When the screen is off, it should stay that way, even if you could work at any time now. In this case, write down everything that needs to be done the next day and then enjoy your evening off.

TIP 3: Find the right communication

The colleague you just wanted to ask a question to is of course no longer sitting next to you in the home office – what can you do? Try to find out the most sensible communication for different tasks. Sometimes questions can be clarified better in a telephone call, sometimes it is more efficient to write an e-mail. And for other tasks, it might make sense to switch to cloud-based programs such as Google Drive. These can be accessed by several employees at the same time and changes can be made simultaneously and almost in real time.

TIP 4: Remember your breaks

No colleagues with whom you go on a break at the same time and it quickly happens that time is forgotten and breaks are shortened or even cancelled. But breaks are extremely important! If you normally take a one-hour lunch break in the office, you should also plan one in your home office. For the best possible relaxation, you should get away from your workplace and get some distance according to the second tip. Eat something during this time to gather energy for the next few hours.

You should also ensure that you have sufficient breaks in between. The human brain can only concentrate on one task for about 20 minutes [2], after which you should take a short breath to refocus.

Use these short breaks to drink enough, to stretch your legs and also to air yourself. In this way you stimulate the blood circulation and ensure a sufficient supply of oxygen, which in turn increases your ability to concentrate.

Excellent.org: 5 tips to master the home office, the picture shows a woman drinking a large glass of water

TIP 5: Bring structure to your day

What’s the first thing you usually do in the office? Do you get creative first and deal with paperwork and less fun things later? Or do you like to do the tedious tasks first and then get on with the more intriguing ones? However you can work well, keep up the same rhythm in your home office. Also, try to start and finish at the same time every day, so that you have a good routine and your working day can level off.

In order to get a good overview of your tasks and plan your day accordingly, you should write a list. Either the evening before or in the morning, list the upcoming tasks and integrate them into your day – according to relevance and personal preference.

Conclusion

Not every tip works out equally well for everyone: some can be productive on the couch in sweatpants, while others have to sit at their desk in everyday clothes. Try out the different tips and find a routine that works for you. Make sure you take enough breaks and don’t forget to eat and drink, then you can be fully productive and perform well in your home office.


 

[1] Zeit Online: „Ablenkungen sind für unser Hirn verführerisch“ (2016)

[2] Concentrix: Konzentration bei Erwachsenen