The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has left nonessential workers across the country working from home. If you’re not used to working at home, you may be surprised to find some new challenges that can take some getting used to. The following work from home productivity tips can help you maintain balance and remain as successful as possible.

Maintain a Routine

You have a regular routine from when you were going into the office. Although that will look different from home, one of the biggest benefits of working from home is the added flexibility. You should still try and build a schedule that you can easily stick to. Having a timeframe to start and end the workday is important for many remote workers to maintain a good work-life balance. Get up at a regular time, shower, prepare tea or coffee and get a good breakfast before sitting down to start your day.

Designate A Workspace

One of the main joys of working from home is that you can create a personalized workspace. Although you have the freedom to make this space as comfortable as you wish, it should be as separate as possible from areas meant for post-work relaxation. Creating a productive space could mean you have a separate clutter-free desk or one that you can include bits of inspiration or calming elements like photographs and candles. Any work from home space will need access to a strong and reliable network connection. When social distancing is no longer required, this could also be a coworking space or local coffee shop. You simply need a spot that you can associate with your work and leave when you’re off the clock.

Establish Reasonable Boundaries

If you are not used to working from home, it’s important to set boundaries when telecommuting. This is because you likely have your spouse, children, and pets all in close quarters. Give your family signals as to when to leave you alone. For example, when the door is closed, that means that dad is on a conference call and doesn’t want to be disturbed.

Log Off Completely After Work

After a reasonable day’s work, put away your electronic devices and work tools just as you would store baking ingredients after making a cake. Keeping work reminders out of sight keeps them out of mind and helps you relax and recharge your batteries.

One of the biggest challenges when working from home is walking the line between your work life and real-life. Even if you don’t have a separate office, keep work technologies away from places like your bedroom, where you intend to relax and recharge after work. When you log off for the day, turn off notifications and close programs so you truly feel off the clock.

Don’t Be Afraid to Over Communicate

There are a lot of apps and different platforms that offer unique ways to stay in contact with coworkers and supervisors. Open lines of communication are even more critical when working remotely and the ‘out of sight out of mind’ mentality can become problematic very quickly. Make a conscious effort to track assignments, double-check progress and ask for clarification because when face-to-face interactions are removed tone and inflection are lost, which can increase the potential for miscommunications.

It’s equally as important to communicate with coworkers as it is to manage feelings of isolation, especially during mandatory social distancing practices. Scheduling FaceTime breaks to chat with coworkers or catch up with friends during lunch can be more valuable to your mental health and productivity than you may realize.

Get Some Fresh Air

One of the final tips for successfully working from home is to actually get out of the house, as much as you are able to. The ability to step outside may be limited during the current pandemic but you can still reward yourself with some fresh air on a walk around the block. There is substantial research that proves time in nature helps reduce stress and refreshes the mind. Although you are in the comfort of your own home, you should still allow yourself to take as many breaks as you need to keep focused throughout the day. No one is around to judge you for needing to get up and stretch your legs every once in a while, it gets the blood flowing back to your brain and can help you get out of a tired funk.

The next few months are somewhat uncertain as states attempt to flatten the curve as much as possible. If you are lucky enough to be able to work from home, these strategies will help you stay as sane and productive as possible. These can be stressful times for everyone, so be sure to carve out enough time to enjoy the extra time to yourself or with your family, have fun and relax when you are off the clock.