There are many reasons why you might be spending more time at home. Maybe you just graduated from college or a bootcamp and you are setting off on your job search or maybe you were recently laid off from a job and you are looking to get back on your feet. Or, perhaps there is a global pandemic that is causing a shift in how we live our lives, resulting in social distancing and self-isolation.
Whatever the reason, you might be wondering how you can make your home into a productive space where you can do work and search for jobs with the same level of efficiency as an office, library, or coffee shop. You are definitely not alone, so we wanted to provide our best recommendations on how to be productive when you are working and job searching from home.
1. Make a schedule and stick to it.
One of the biggest issues people have with working from home is that they are, well, in their home. This is the place that they designate for after work and weekends, so it is hard to reconcile that feeling with the knowledge that you need to get work done efficiently. To combat this, we recommend making a schedule for each day and following it with diligence.
Set your alarm for the same time you would wake up if you were going to work that day. If you typically work out in the morning, do that as well (if you can’t go to the gym, do online workouts). You want your morning to mimic a normal morning, so that you get into the right headspace for being productive and efficient.
Then, block out your day so that you can separate work time from leisure time. Create a to-do list for each day, but ensure that you also have a stopping point indicated on your calendar because people often end up working too much when they are working from home. This can be especially frustrating when you are looking for a job because you might feel like you need to keep searching at all times. It is healthier for you to have a predetermined “end of the day” so you know you can close your laptop and feel good about the day.
2. Designate a workspace in your home.
Another way you can help differentiate your home from your work life while you are spending time exclusively at home is by creating a spot in your apartment or house that is your “office.” If you have a desk, use that, but if you don’t, get creative. Your kitchen table or counter are good options – you want something that will trick your brain into thinking you are at a desk. Avoid your couch and definitely do not work in your bed – those are places for relaxing and you should keep them that way. Avoid mixing your home and work life so that you can make it easier to be productive.
3. Find a feel-good project.
Being productive in your job search does not mean you need to constantly search for jobs. You should also spend time optimizing your LinkedIn and resume and working on side projects that will help you expand your knowledge and experience.
Reach out to your favorite charities and nonprofits to see if they need help. This is an opportunity to volunteer, practice your skills, and learn new things all while making connections. You can also include this work on your resume and in your portfolio, beefing up your experience and increasing your chances of being hired.
You can also look into freelance or contract work, if you are more interested in getting paid than volunteering. Upwork, We Work Remotely, and Working Not Working are all good places to look for remote, freelance, or contract opportunities that you can work on while you apply to jobs. Keeping your skills sharp and making a little extra money on the side can help break up your day and keep your spirits up.
4. Embrace little wins
Make your own milestones and give yourself kudos! Having something to celebrate will keep you moving forward and working hard, even from home. Right now, it feels like everything is out of control. Rather than internalize those feelings, refocus on things that we CAN control! Find small milestones that relate to your productivity at work or in the job search and then celebrate when you achieve them.
Here are some good examples of milestones:
- Sent 15 cold emails this week
- Applied to 25 jobs this week
- Scheduled 1 informational interview this week
- Worked on an individual project for 5 hours this week
- Found 30 interesting opportunities this week
It is important to remember that the ups and downs you are experiencing are completely normal! Suddenly going from working in an office to working from home is difficult. Give yourself a moment to breathe and get ready to come back strong on your action plan. This is likely a temporary situation and the more positively you look at it, the better you will feel.
Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. If you want to work with our mentors to get guidance on any aspect of your job search, become a Pathrise fellow.