Amid this coronavirus pandemic, you may have initially been thrilled about working or undertaking university from home to moderate the spread of infection. Saving on transport time and costs, and working from the comfort of your own home can sound appealing.
Yet, working from home may present you with various interruptions to your routine and demotivate you from getting things done. Regardless of whether you’re studying, working or trying to maintain productivity from home – here are some strategies to help reduce procrastination and keep on-track.
If you don’t have a structured workplace with a set start, finish and break time, then create your own timetable. Customise this to the work you need to complete, to add some structure to your day.
Set out tasks that you hope to accomplish by a set time. Whether you’re assigned to create spreadsheets, or write a 2000-word essay. Prepare a to-do-list to remember the tasks for the day or you can set reminders for yourself. In case you have to prepare a 2-pager article then try to break it down into sections and cover the sections at different intervals. There are many people find it difficult to concentrate at one go when working from home due to many distractions; here a time-table for the day can be more helpful. One can draw diagrams if needed and put up on the soft board.
Depending on the weight of the task, reasonably set out how long it should take for you to complete. Time yourself if you need to. Ensure you allow for breaks in between your tasks to revive and prepare accomplishing your next assignment.
You may be tempted to stay in your pyjamas when working from home. But in reality, you’re more likely to be killing your motivation and productivity. Try to avoid wearing clothes that could make you lethargic. Wearing decent tee, pants is good enough. Also, it helps in case you are suddenly alarmed by a video call from work. It’s better to stay prepared zoom calls or check-in with colleagues. It also sets the right mood to complete work more efficiently. In general, most employers won’t care what you’re wearing when you work from home — as long as you get the work done. And besides, taking a few days to stay cozy can be good for your mental health, especially during these stressful times.
“We are all going through an unprecedented and stressful time in history,” said Rheeda Walker, a professor of psychology at the University of Houston and director of the school’s Culture, Risk and Resilience Lab. “If folks aren’t up for dressing for the cyber world as they would in the office, that is completely understandable. We can cut ourselves some slack if, mentally, we’re just not up for the pomp and circumstance.”
Exercising naturally boosts endorphins – which increases happiness, enjoyment, and interest levels. All of the above are important for productivity. Regularly stretching or yoga helps you maintain great posture after sitting down all day. In addition, being active keeps you healthier, more energetic and hands-on when working from home.
Having said that exercising is great way to keep your body and mind healthy though it does get difficult for many to take out that little time from the busy schedule. However, working from home gives people the comfort of sneaking out little time for themselves as and when they need. It is a great way to give yourself that 10-15 mins quick bee stretches and get into a routine. Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits. Most importantly, regular activity can improve your quality of life says Harvard Medical Institute Study. There are some incredible and inspiring bloggers you can follow-up on YouTube and social media- like Blogilates, Kayla Itsines, Chloe Ting & more, whom people follow and have proven results.
Another work from home truth (and advantage) is that we have full access to the kitchen. It is however easy to gravitate towards whatever is easily accessible, regardless of the nutritional value. How easy is it to reach for that packet of chips, leftover pizza and two-minute noodles – and let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Eating a poor diet reduces physical and mental health because eating healthy allows people to be more active. Two-thirds of people who eat fresh fruit and vegetables daily report no mental health issues, as reported by the Mental Health Foundation.
To help you stay off the junk food, plan your lunches for the week ahead and prepare your grocery list with your lunches in mind. Likewise, refrain from purchasing snacks. If you do want to have the occasional treat, place them somewhere out of sight so you are not as easily tempted. Arrange cheat days for the week, preferably the weekend when you’re off from work. Give yourself some treat for a great work done.
Start with your desk or working space. Is it spacious enough? Is there excess clutter you need to get rid of? Is it suitable for the work you do?
Next, make sure that you have everything you need within easy reach. Keep your workspace tidy.
Spend a few minutes at the end of each session sorting out things like paperwork or empty coffee cups to prepare yourself for the next day. Clear away as much of it as you can when you switch off for the day. Also, utilise your breaks or spare time to clean your closets and drawers. You often find hidden gems in your closet once it’s all cleaned and organised. Unless you’re living underneath a (very cluttered) rock, you know Marie Kondo is the ultimate organization queen. Her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is jam-packed with tips that will turn your messy room into a neat, minimalist oasis.
One can take working from home as an opportunity to create a new habit or learn something new. This time off can help you bring useful and impactful changes in your life. This may clash with some of the examples mentioned above, like a few people may take this as an opportunity to start a routine mild exercise of 15 mins at home, which was difficult before. Also, some can start with a morning meditation session for themselves to bring together their thoughts. When you do not have to spend that travel time, any time saved is time earned for your own self.
Often we would wake up, shower, and rush to work- come back home and the day is over. The day often becomes blur and we never have time to sit by ourselves and reflect on the day. However, we all need some calm time to ourselves. Now is a great time for self-reflection, contemplation and relaxation. Create a habit of meditating in the morning just by focussing on yourself. By starting with thinking of how was your yesterday spent and how should today look like. Just a small change of spending 10 mins with yourself in the morning can become a good habit. No harm is trying for a few days and see how it goes.
One of the biggest distractions of working from home is your phone, with the constant notifications and news updates. Keeping the phone aside while working is most important. Keeping it out of sight, or put it in the other room. Try to save those messages for when you’re done with the working day, or allow for a cheeky scroll on your break. This is one of the most important part of keeping yourself productive.
Just as you should start your day with a routine- create a habit that signals the close of the work day. It might be a sign off on business messaging apps, an evening dog walk, or a 6pm yoga class. You might have a simple routine such as shutting down your computer and turning on a favourite podcast. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours. Reward yourself with positive vibes and thoughts.