9 min read
Quarantine measures resulting from the coronavirus pandemic have had a drastic impact on the way that we work. While work from home (WFH) careers have increased in recent years thanks to the power of technology, the majority of people still head to a place of work in order to do their job. At least, until COVID-19 struck.
The novel coronavirus has pushed more than a quarter of the world’s population into lockdown. Are you one of those affected? COVID-19 is having a huge impact on everything from mental health to work life balance. As such, the Tomedes team has put together a range of productivity tips to help those engaging in social distancing to work from home with minimal stress and maximum efficiency.
Are you ready to start telecommuting properly? Then let’s get into it!
1. Excel at Prioritising Tasks
When you’re required to work from home at short notice and to juggle your working arrangements in order to do so effectively, prioritising tasks takes on a whole new level of importance. Rethink how you approach prioritising your working day under the new WFH arrangements.
Work out what really needs to be done – what is business critical? And what can fall by the wayside, at least temporarily?
2. Explore the Eisenhower Matrix
One established way to prioritise your workload is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This format is simplicity itself. You sort your tasks into four categories: Do, Schedule, Delegate and Eliminate. Tasks that are both important and urgent go under Do. Those that are important but not urgent can be scheduled for later. Tasks that are urgent but not important can be delegated. Finally, tasks that are neither important nor urgent can be eliminated.
Source: Eisenhower Matrix
Not used this powerful prioritisation tool before? Then there’s no time like the present!
3. Turn Your Home Office into a Nest
Does the outside world seem an awful lot scarier to you than it did just a few weeks back? If so, you’re not alone. That’s why it’s important for your home office to provide a place of sanctuary. If you can turn your home working location into a nest where you can switch off from thinking about social distancing, quarantine and ventilators, then you’re likely to be able to work from home a lot more productively.
Is reading too much of a chore? Perhaps you’ll like this video instead!
4. Declutter Your Workstation
One aspect of this involves decluttering your workstation. In fact, this applies whether you have a home office to ensconce yourself in or are sitting up one corner of the kitchen table trying to work while also being responsible for home schooling your kids.
The old adage ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ is more than just a trite saying. A clean, organised home has been proven to improve happiness and reduce stress. So ditch that clutter and break out the duster if you want to be at your best when it comes to working from home!
5. Avoid Overstimulation
The human mind can be a fragile thing. When your background level of worry has been ramped up by an ongoing external event over which you have little control (we’re looking at you, COVID-19!), then over-layering that with too many other forms of input can have a seriously negative impact on your mental health.
Whether it’s a social media withdrawal, watching the news less often or simply ensuring that you get a bit of ‘me’ time away from your noisy/delightful/messy/exhausting/wonderful (delete as appropriate) children, make sure you take action to avoid overstimulating your mind. Your productivity levels will soar – or at least not plummet – as a result.
6. Remove Distractions
On a practical level, it’s also important to remove distractions that could make your WFH time less productive. Social media is a huge distraction for many, but it’s far from the only one. From games consoles to housework, distractions come in many forms when you work from home and particularly when you’re not used to doing so.
At the end of each day in lockdown, honestly assess what it was that distracted you the most, then remove that temptation before the next working day begins.
7. Find Your Focus
Experiment with your working environment, how you structure your day (particularly if you’re in quarantine with children) and the times of day at which you work to find the working patterns that result in you being most effective. Again, honest self-reflection is key here. Once you can recognise when you’re at your most focused and efficient, your productivity levels can rise significantly.
8. Start Setting Goals for Yourself
Does your company set goals for you? Great! But if you work from home, whether long-term as a freelance or temporarily as a result of the coronavirus, you need to set your own goals too, particularly when it comes to your work life balance (you can read more about maintaining a healthy work life balance by clicking the link below).
What time will you switch off for the day? How many times a week will you make time to work out? Which tasks will you complete today and which will you snooze until tomorrow? Remember that setting realistic and achievable goals can be an excellent motivator.
Read more: How to Maintain a Healthy Work Life Balance
9. Staying Motivated Working on Your Own
Some people find staying motivated while telecommuting a doddle, while others experience a major uphill struggle with it. If you fall into the latter category, then it’s important to work on improving your motivation. After all, a motivated worker is a productive worker!
Many of the productivity tips in this article will also help to boost your motivation. If you’re still struggling, throw in some power poses and dopamine-releasing rewards (in simple terms, eat some chocolate while posing as a conqueror) and you’ll be able to trick your mind and body into feeling more confident and more motivated.
10. Avoid Procrastination
Are you reading this article while you should be working? The longer you put off starting your tasks, the longer it will be until you’ve finished them. Mark Twain famously wrote:
“If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it First Thing in the Morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the BIGGEST one first.”
This simple approach can help you to knock procrastination on the head. Get your least appealing task(s) out of the way first thing and you’ll find that you procrastinate far less when it comes to completing the rest of your To Do list.
11. Help Others to Stop Procrastinating
As well as cutting out your own procrastination, make sure that you don’t prevent others from completing their work in a timely fashion too. If you do, you may well find yourself drawn into other tasks or causes of delay to your own working day, as well as to theirs!
12. Improve Communication Through Tech
From Slack to Zoom, there are some superb communication tools available to help you work from home productively while under lockdown. Ask your peers for recommendations and experiment with what fits best with your workflow. Just be sure that you employ tools that improv your communication without themselves becoming distractions.
13. Use the Right Tools
Of course, apps and tools can do much more than just help you communicate. Have you tried organising your tasks through Trello? Sharing annotated snapshots of graphs, documents or anything else on your screen using Skitch?
Often, it’s these super-simple pieces of software that end up seriously boosting your productivity, so be sure to try out a range of tools until you’ve found the perfect combination.
14. Use Online Collaboration Platforms
Being in a different location to your colleagues is no longer the barrier to work that once it was. That’s because online collaboration platforms facilitate everyone working together and communicating in a way that is clear and consistent. There are plenty of options out there, so do your homework and find a company that meets the particular needs of you and your colleagues.
Of course, once you find the right combination of tools and start truly excelling at the WFH experience, you could even consider re-evaluating your career choices once the COVID-19 outbreak is over. If so, you can click the link below for some interesting ideas of how to make money online.
Read more: How to Make Money Online
15. Take Breaks
Stopping work in order to get more work done may seem counterintuitive, but regular breaks can help you to remain alert and focused. Whether you make yourself a cuppa, jog on the spot, read a couple of pages of a novel or do anything else, build breaks away from your computer screen into your working day and watch your productivity rocket.
16. Be Kind to Yourself
If you’re working at home unexpectedly due to new social distancing measures, remember to give yourself some credit. Any new situation takes a period of adjustment, let alone one that weighs on the mind so much as the COVID-19 outbreak. So if you’re having a difficult day, don’t despair; you’re far from alone. Well, figuratively, at least!
17. Prioritise Healthy Living
If you want to be your best while working from home, make healthy living a priority. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a varied diet and keep yourself well hydrated. Stick a bowl of fruit snacks and a bottle of water next to while you work and you’ll likely eat and drink them out of sheer convenience, rather than perusing the kitchen cupboards for something less healthy.
Be sure to work out regularly as well. You don’t need a home gym to do so. The 7-minute workout app will get your heart pounding and your blood racing (in a good way!), while YouTube is home to everything from Zumba classes to martial arts demos. Simply pick the activity you like the sound of most and get started.
18. Take Action to De-stress
The stress of finding yourself isolated from friends, extended family and colleagues is not to be underestimated. As such, an important part of working from home successfully is to recognise that stress and take measures to mitigate it.
How do you usually de-stress? Spa days might be out while we’re all under lockdown and practising social distancing, but a home-based pamper day (or an evening at least) is certainly not out of the question. If you cook to relax, so much the better. However you de-stress, find a way to build it into your WFH routine for a decent work life balance.
19. Accept that Business as Usual is Cancelled – for Now
One of the most important points is to remember that this new ‘normal’ is anything but. If you want to work from home efficiently, stop trying to behave and work in exactly the same way that you would in the office. You’ll need to adapt what you do to accept that it’s no longer business as usual. The sooner you truly appreciate this, the better placed you will be to excel at working under radically different circumstances than usual.
20. Get Creative
Finally, take the opportunity to get creative. Do you need to balance educating or caring for young children with working? Are you on your own and struggling with the isolation? Whatever your situation, the more creatively you can respond to current events, the greater your chance of thriving.
For many people, working from home is a lifestyle choice that they have managed to fit a career around. For countless individuals bumped from their offices due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, remote working of this nature is entirely new.
If you’re one of those people, the above tips should help. Which one will you be acting on first?
Finally, do you have any tips of your own to share on working from home during the coronavirus crisis? If so, we would love it if you left a comment below this article, to share your experience and wisdom. Thank you!
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