We are in the middle of a pandemic, but, hey, you still have to be productive.
Most of the world has bunkered down by now, and this means that, for many of us, our home has become a space for living, playing, and working. Which means that if you’ve never worked from home for an extended period before, things can get messed up really fast.
During this time, you’ll ask yourself questions like, “Should I wear pants today?” and “Why is it so hard to keep a schedule?” and “Can I just work from bed?” Well, (1) wear pants please, and (2) working from home is hard if you’ve never done it before – it’ll take some time before you figure out a routine that works well for you. But a lot of what works well really depends on your personality type.
At 16Personalities, we believe that a lot of factors contribute to your productivity, or lack of it, but none are more important than your personality type. One of these important factors is your Mind trait (whether you’re Introverted or Extraverted). We’ll tackle how both Introverts and Extraverts can keep up their productivity while working from home.
And, for an extra dose of insider authenticity, we’ve teamed up two of our writers, one Extravert and one Introvert, each covering their side of the Mind trait spectrum.
Extraverts (a.k.a. The Ones Who Feel Trapped)
Hello, Extraverts. I’m also an Extravert, and I’ve been working from home for more than five years. Let me share my hard-learned telecommuting lessons with you.
To begin with, people tend to incorrectly think that being an Extravert means that you cannot live without other people. That you cannot possibly function without the input of others. But, as most Extraverts know, you are very capable of doing things solo. It’s just that you prefer to do work with others.
For you, working with others can help you be more creative, inspired, and, if you’re not chatting too much, productive. For most Extraverted personalities, your best work is usually done in a bustling, collaborative setting.
Which is why it’s a major bummer that you’re stuck inside until who knows when.
But we want you to do the very best you can during these truly wild times. That’s why we’ve put together a small list of tips that can help boost not only your productivity at home but also your mental health.
1. Put On Real Clothes
Pajamas aren’t proper work attire – even if the only other person around to judge you is your reflection. When you take the time to put on a work outfit, to shower, brush your hair, brush your teeth, and put in that extra effort to spruce yourself up, you’re actually signaling to your body, “Hey, I’m going out to see people.”
Of course, you won’t actually be seeing people, but putting on a nice pair of jeans or a pressed shirt will remind you that now is a time to be serious, not a time to rest.
2. Implement Set Work Hours
One of the hardest things about working from home is that there is no boundary between your area of rest and your office. There’s no boss to tell you to stop or a coworker to remind you, “Hey, we really need to get this done.”
It’s just you, all on your lonesome. This means that all accountability rests on your shoulders.
The good thing about working from home is that you can usually complete tasks faster without someone chatting you up every 10 minutes. But this happens only if you set your schedule to allow yourself to do so.
Instead of letting your hours drift by because you have a whole day to accomplish a task, give yourself a strict workday that lasts about six hours. It doesn’t matter when those six hours start, but you have to work for at least six hours.
Why? Parkinson’s law. When you give yourself longer to complete a thing, it takes you longer to complete it. So, give yourself less time to accomplish a task, get said task done quicker, and use the rest of the day for yourself.
(Some of you have the mixed blessing of strictly enforced and monitored work hours. Our hearts go out to you. Do what you must, then skip to tip #3.)
3. Take a Lunch Break with a Friend
Okay, you got through the first three hours of your workday. We’re proud of you. Now take a break – preferably away from your desk or place of work. Go make yourself a plate of food, sit outside if you can – get yourself some sunshine – and call a close friend or family member up on FaceTime.
We’re like 89% positive that they’re not that busy. Also, the sound of another human voice can reinvigorate you for the rest of your workday.
4. Put a Hard Stop to Your Workday
Before you start your workday, write down when you will stop your workday. And then actually stop at that time.
There are two reasons for this:
- Avoid fatigue. Your brain experiences less fatigue if it knows there’s a definitive end to something. For example, if you were a runner, would you run faster knowing the finish line was nearing? What if you had no idea where the finish line was – or if it even existed?
- More time for activities. Stopping at a set time separates work time from playtime. In the time you’re not working, you can spend it watching a film with friends on Netflix Party, having a FaceTime chat with your family, or even just spending in-person time with people (and pets) you’re quarantined with.
5. Put On a Podcast or Office Sounds
For some Extraverts, the sounds of people nearby can help with concentration and focus. Hearing the voices of other humans, or even just the sound of proof of life nearby, is very helpful for reminding you that you are not alone. That’s why we suggest putting on a podcast.
For podcasts, we recommend listening to something you’ve already heard or that you don’t particularly care about – that way, you can zone out on it. It’s a good way to help you focus on the work in front of you but also get the added sensation of having people nearby.
Working from home is difficult for everyone, but it’s especially challenging for people who enjoy being around others. We won’t say that these tips will instantly solve your work-from-home woes, but we can say that they’ll make these difficult times just a little more bearable.
Introverts (a.k.a. Those Resigned to Their Native Habitat)
Dear Introverts, welcome home. Signed, your fellow Introvert who’s currently working from a fortress of solitude. (If only…)
A new day is upon us. Yikes. You might be excited but unsure about the idea of not having to see a bunch of people to earn your livelihood. (And feeling lucky that you have the chance, unlike many.) Of course, you probably like people, your job, and your social life – very few Introverts favor complete isolation. And no one likes losing their freedom.
But a small part of you might also see an upside to working from home. (C’mon, admit it.) A little extra distance from the masses means that you don’t have to spend all that energy, you know, talking and being available when people want to talk to you.
There are some potential challenges to maintaining your productivity and morale when working from home, however. Such a big change in routine can feel scary, which is perfectly okay. We’ve put together a few ideas to help you stay sane (and get some decent work done) as you adapt to this new frontier.
1. Create a Private, Dedicated Workspace
When you’re at home, where all your creature comforts and habits beckon distractingly, it’s smart to set up a little spot with a different “work now” vibe that helps you focus. This is especially important if housemates want to interact while you’re trying to work (that struggle is real).
A workspace in a garage, outbuilding, or extra room would be awesome, but if you have to resort to pinning up sheets and blankets to make a mini office, we won’t laugh. The goal is to create a bubble where you can control your own attention span. (You can also consider setting a work schedule as suggested in the Extraverts section above.)
2. Experiment with Sound and Light Levels
Many Introverted personalities are relatively sensitive to sensory input. Working from home is a great chance to play around and find what helps you stay focused and feeling good. Does bright light keep you perky and productive? Does dim light help you get into a soothing work groove?
Music helps some Introverts focus, while some prefer relative quiet. At home, you get to pick – yay! You might even be able to cover intrusive sounds with a steady noise like a fan or by playing a soothing recording of a river in the background. (Or your favorite ASMRtist.)
3. Take a Different Kind of Break
For many Introverts, a break at work means a chance to grab a little private time to rest. It’s common to want to get away from people for a few minutes. When you’re working from home, you might not find yourself craving solitude as much…yet you still deserve a break from the work itself. A few ideas:
- Be social. Leave your workspace, find someone in your house to chat with, or call up a friend. Get a friendly dose of social contact from loved ones, goofy friends, and those who know you best. Draw upon your community, whatever form it takes.
- Meditate. If a solitary break sounds good, you can just kick back, close your eyes, and engage in your favorite visualization technique for 15 minutes. (Plenty of instructions online, people; don’t make us pick one for you.)
- Get a mini massage. Think we’re joking? If you’re providing for your household, you deserve a little TLC. Ask nicely, be grateful, and keep it short. Maybe one minute per hand, or two minutes on your shoulders. (If this isn’t an option, consider a self-massage.)
- Work out. A little bit of vigorous body motion can awaken your mind and help you fight “chair torpor.” Look up some exercises or just run around the yard like a maniac for a few minutes. Don’t worry about what the neighbors think – everyone’s weird right now.
4. Make a Household Social Contract
If you live with other people, you might have to take defined steps to protect your privacy and attention while you’re working from home. It’s tough for people in your house to see you as unavailable when you’re sitting right there. But their innocent interruptions can seriously hamper your work, and when you’re under pressure to perform, that’ll make you testy.
And that’s not good for anyone.
So, make a sensible, matter-of-fact agreement with people to respect the focus, space, and blocks of time you need to get your work done. Your work is important and necessary, and you shouldn’t feel bad for making it a priority.
5. Be a Self-Indulgent Slob, if It Helps You Work
For many Introverted personalities, the best thing about a day off is not having to be presentable. Drinking a nice hot cup of yumminess in your pajamas, not caring what your hair looks like – ahhh, that’s the life, right? That’s weekend joy, right there.
Well, feel free to capture a little of that spirit while you’re working from home. Getting your work done properly is critical, of course, but you can still find ways to cut loose a little. Anything that makes you feel better about your situation and doesn’t mess up your work is okay.
During a video conference, you can just shove those potato chip and cookie containers out of camera view, eh? (And we won’t tell those Extraverts that you’re not wearing any pants!)
Temporarily working from home is a chance to practice handling change and maybe even to be a little more in control of your work environment. For Introverts, this can be a silver lining to an otherwise difficult situation. Just trust in yourself, attend to your needs, and do your best.
We know how challenging it can be, believe us.
Are you working from home due to the global pandemic? If so, what are the biggest challenges you face and what have you discovered that helps you the most? Share your experience in the comments below!
- What if you’re not working? We’ve got helpful advice on how different personality types can survive social isolation.
- Still figuring out your ideal work atmosphere? Take our “Work Environments” survey and see how your preferences compare with other people who share your personality type.
- If you’re spending a lot more time than normal at home with other people, it can be helpful to understand trait conflicts and finding balance.
- We know the future can seem uncertain and scary, and how you cope with future stress may relate to your personality.
- Need a new way to entertain yourself? Check out our free members’ Community. It’s full of fascinating discussions about personality types and how they relate to life – and you can connect with people like you.