I've been working from home for 6 weeks since the coronavirus began to spread in the US. Here are my 7 tips for staying on task.

© Joey Hadden/Business Insider

By Joey Hadden, Business Insider

  • I've been working from home for the last six weeks since the coronavirus began to spread in New York.
  • In that time, I've shifted workspaces from my kitchen to my tiny bedroom in my New York apartment to my mom's house in Austin, Texas.
  • I've been reading up on the best ways to stay on task and be productive, especially while working from home, and putting the tips into action.
  • After six weeks of working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, here are my seven tips for how to stay on task while working from home.

1. Make your bed.

© Business Insider

In a Business Insider video, Admiral William McRaven, author of "Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life... And Maybe The World," explained that making your bed is a simple task that moves your day forward.

When I was working in the Insider Inc. office, I was not making my bed at all. But since I started working remotely, making my bed in the morning has made motivated me for the next thing I have to do each day.

There have been a couple of days when I haven't done it — today is one of those days — and these days feel a little heavier than the rest. Tasks feel harder to accomplish and motivating myself to complete them is more difficult. I never end the workday regretting that I took the time to make my bed. 


2. Recreate your office space

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In a Business Insider article packed with tips about working from home, editorial leaders who have done it for years recommend setting up a work environment at home to boost productivity. They also recommend working at a desk or table rather than a couch or bed. Chief Retail Correspondent Hayley Peterson said this is because working on a couch might make you feel sleepy.

Debbie Strong, a senior contributor and freelance editor, said she gets flowers every week for her table to make her environment feel fresh.

I even went as far as to put up an "Insider Inc." sign in my kitchen to remind myself that I'm at work.


3. Switch up your workspace throughout the day, if it mimics your typical workday in the office.

© Business Insider

When I work from the Insider office in New York, I like to move to different desks and tables around the office several times a day, typically each time I switch tasks. It's just a part of my workflow. At home, I recreate this by moving around to different desks and tables around my house.


4. Take thoughtful breaks, and set goals to reach them.

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Steven John, an author and freelance writer for Business Insider who has been working from home for nine years recommends taking breaks during the day to keep your work-from-home situation sustainable.

"When I go up to the kitchen for coffee, I'll allow myself five minutes to flip through a magazine or scroll through a website, and when it's time for lunch, I hang out with my wife if she's home, or watch a show or read for fun if she's not," John reported.

Similarly, after completing certain tasks during the workday, I allow myself to take a walk or play one song on the drums. While taking a walk helps me change my environment, drumming my heart out for five minutes helps me escape work mentally by changing my headspace.


5. Get plenty of light.

© Business Insider

John also recommends having a lot of light in your workspace. He says this will increase your energy, reduce eye strain, and keep you better focused.

A 2014 article on North Carolina State University's Sustainability blog backs this, stating that natural light can protect your vision, boost your mood, and make you more productive.


6. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode.

© Business Insider

Whether I am at home or in the office, I set my phone to Do Not Disturb mode during work hours. This way, I can avoid distractions while working by only looking at my phone to send work-related texts and saving the personal stuff for breaks and after hours.

"Distractions are a major pitfall for productive remote work," Tamika Pumphrey, career and leadership coach with Ama La Vida, told Business Insider. "You will excel in this environment if you are able to manage distractions and remain focused on your work."


7. Over-communicate with your colleagues and managers.

© Business Insider

Business Insider leaders who have worked from home for years recommend being very present on all work communicating platforms while working from home, including Slack, texts, and emails, by responding quickly and letting your co-workers or managers know what you're working on and when you're stepping away from work.

I send my managers updates on what I'm working on throughout the day, and I let them know when I'm shifting gears. When I'm unsure of what to prioritize in a workday, I simply ask for guidance. I also send my team a heads up every time I'm getting off my computer to eat lunch, take a break, or take photos for a story.

See more at: Business Insider

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