Forced to be a WFHer? Here's How Newbies Like You Can Stay Productive at Home during COVID-19
Are you forced to work from home due to the threat of coronavirus?
Consider yourself lucky because you're not on indefinite leave without pay like some employees.
After a week of this arrangement, however, you might be going bonkers just trying to figure out how to stay productive working from home. You're on the verge of acquiring the un-productive syndrome if there's such a thing.
With more time on your hands, distractions everywhere, and the new workplace arrangement, it's understandable that you're having a hard time focusing. Or, your procrastinating-loving self is going on a new high.
Here's how you can pull yourself together and stay productive in the very sense of the word.
We've listed down simple steps below that can help you get a lot of remote work done in the comfort of your home.
How can you stay focused and productive while working at home?
1. Set up the ideal workspace
Choose a spot in your home that you can convert into an office. It must be:
- Private (or offers a bit of privacy)
- Free of distractions
- Designed to set your brain on work mode the moment you enter this little corner
Your dedicated workspace must have a desk and chair, (more or less) similar to your workstation at the office. Invest in a standing desk if possible. This is one way to spare you from the office syndrome. You're working from home now, after all.
As for dealing with distractions, work when you can enjoy some peace and quiet. Or, let your family know your work schedule so they won't disturb you during these times. If this is not possible, use noise-cancelling headphones.
2. Set a work schedule that is clear and realistic
If you want to get things done when you work from home, you must follow a schedule that is clear, complete with set times for specific tasks and breaks in between. A vague plan is the quickest way to get off the rails.
- Create a structured plan where you set a realistic goal that you must achieve within a specific timeframe.
- Break down large tasks into smaller manageable ones.
- Categorise tasks based on importance or difficulty levels.
- Squeeze in reasonable breaks.
A clear and realistic schedule is also the best way to keep procrastination at bay. Wait, how bad are you at procrastinating? Find out here.
Chronic, or otherwise, the best way to deal with this kind of behaviour is to:
- Just start on the easiest task.
- Have someone hold you accountable. Tell a family member or a friend what you need to do and to
- Check on your progress.
- List down and keep track of all the things you need to do. Thus, the work schedule.
3. Have a backup plan for possible interruptions
When you work from home, expect your schedule to be disrupted at some point.
Your mum might call you in the middle of the day just to chat and ask about your current situation. She's worried, so you feel obligated to sit down and chat. (Time's ticking)
You just heard from the news that the lockdown is likely to be extended. It sets off your "worry" alarms and you can barely sit still.
Such interruptions can ruin your schedule and make you less productive. Make sure you have a Plan B when this happens.
For instance, you tell your mum you'll talk to her after work. In the case of distressing news, take a break and go for a walk (indoors, of course). Let this be one of the breaks you set for the day, not an additional one.
4. Face the challenge of task uncertainties
When you work from home for the first time, you're likely to feel out of your element. This is especially true with regard to guidance and direction.
Without a colleague or supervisor nearby, who can you call for assistance or information?
To eliminate feelings of uncertainty that can hamper productivity, check if you have all the information or instructions you need before you start on any task.
If you don't, tap key people you can contact for quick support. Get a list of their contact information beforehand.
Knowing that support is available will eliminate unpleasant feelings brought on by uncertainties.
5. Use productivity and collaboration tools
These days, working from home is easier than ever with all the apps and tools at your disposal.
There is plenty of software for staying on track with projects and connecting with colleagues beyond geographical boundaries.
Maximise production and add more hours to your day with some of these amazing tools for:
Asana – Helps every team member to stay organised and on task. All projects, assigned to different users, are found in one spot.
Google Suite – Write, edit, access, and share documents/spreadsheets on the go and from your computer, mobile phone, or tablet.
Harvest – Track the time you spent on each task using an intuitive and simple interface. Create reports and send invoices from the same app.
Google Calendar – Never miss an appointment with this online calendar that automatically syncs with regional holidays and schedules sent via email.
Slack – Unifies communications with your entire team and easily integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive, and other apps your team uses daily.
Zoom – Collaborate, communicate, and set up a conference over HD video and high-quality audio with your team using cloud computing. Share your screen and enjoy a host of other collaboration features.
Trello – The digital version of post-it notes with better features. Add lists and labels and just drag and drop cards.
ProofHub – Cloud-based collaboration and project management application.
6. Take better care of yourself
Being stuck at home for long periods can have an impact on your mind and body. Your eating habits can become unhealthy or the opposite, which is good news. Your mind and emotions could go through a roller-coaster ride.
Protect yourself against these negative consequences.
- Stock up on healthy foods and eat a balanced diet as much as possible.
- Make sure to eat at the right time. Don't skip meals.
- Take a break or rest with the same amount of time you spent on your commute or drive to work.
- Squeeze in fun time with colleagues where possible.
- Set time for exercise and find ways to stay active.
- Find meaning in your work, so it doesn't become less important now that you're surrounded with things that are personally more important to you.
Most importantly, find time to do things that you’ve always wanted to do. With commute times out of the equation and with a set schedule, you now have the opportunity for things you never seem to have time for before. Start a new hobby or enrol in an online course.
Being a part of the work-from-home population may seem a new concept but you will get used to it since there's no certainty as to when the lockdown will end.
The most important thing now is to stay at home and stay safe. While you're at it, stay productive too.
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