The novel coronavirus outbreak has created a new normal for many professionals. With the enhanced community quarantine in place, work from home is now the set-up for getting the job done. To many, it’s convenient. But at times, it can be too convenient that it’s becoming tougher to accomplish tasks. It’s frustrating, especially knowing that you don’t have any other alternative — no coffee shops or co-working spaces — not to mention the fact that you might be in this new normal for the next month or two.
Nonetheless, the simple sacrifice of staying at home can do wonders for curbing the greater potential damage of the outbreak. At the same time, there are lots of ways to make work-from-home work for you. Here are some simple work-related strategies to boost your productivity:
Wake Up Early
Your shift may start at 9 or 10AM, and with no traffic jams to think about, you’re probably thinking about waking up five or ten minutes before the clock hits your supposed log-in time. You realize later on that with this habit, you’re not able to work as soon as your shift starts, precisely because there is so much pre-work stuff to accomplish: making the bed, eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, washing your face, checking the news, and setting up your workspace. As a result, everything about work gets delayed.
If you want to start on the right foot, wake up an hour or two before your work shift. This will give you a good head start. Aside from the usual hygiene routine, you’ll be able to do some meditation to condition your mind for the tasks ahead, and plot your tasks way before your shift begins. Waking up early is one of the simple habits many accomplished, successful people practice every day.
Have a Designated Work Zone
Do everything you can to create some semblance of going to the office. One of the best tactics for this is to make an effort in dressing up. Believe it or not, what you wear affects your state of mind, which can make or break your productivity. Your pajamas are associated with the feeling of comfort, rest, and relaxation. As a result, when you stay in them while working, you may not be that alert or motivated to get tasks done, precisely because you’re loosened up. That said, even if you’re not going outside, put on some decent work clothes. If possible, wear a full-face makeup or put on some hair gel to be “in the zone.”
Aside from what you wear, another consideration here is where you work. Sure, you can email your boss and clients from your bed, but again, this only puts you in a relaxed, laid-back state, which can hamper your productivity. That said, make it a habit to go to your home office. If you don’t have that in your home or condo, set up a mini workstation in your bedroom. A table away from your bed, holding all of your gear, laptop, planner, and post-its, should be enough to get you in the mood for productive work.
Create a Structure
In some companies, teams huddle together every morning through video conference to talk about tasks, deadlines, and concerns. With this, it’s easy to structure the day and create a schedule around it. In other organizations, what’s given are only broad strokes. If this is your case, then it’s up to you to set targets based on those general objectives. Create your own to-do list. Every time you accomplish one task, tick it off from your list, so you can track progress.
Don’t forget to include rests in your schedule. Honor lunch breaks. Take a walk around your backyard in the afternoon or stand and stretch your arms and legs. Breaks can do wonders in refreshing your mind and resetting your mood for work.
Socialize and Collaborate
One of the subtle culprits to low productivity in work-from-home arrangements is the feeling of being on your own. On the one hand, without your boss looking over your shoulder every now and then, it feels like total freedom from obligations. On the other hand, it’s hard sometimes to accomplish tasks when you feel alone. The antidote to this is to reach out to your teammates.
Report to bosses regularly about your work progress to heighten the sense of accountability. Check on colleagues to see how they’re coping with the quarantine and ask how you can be of help. This will put you in a better mood for productive work, and at the same time, give you some semblance of your typical day at the office.
This work-from-home set-up will be the new normal for many professionals in the next month or so. Yes, it may be a little frustrating at first, but as you ease into it and embrace this new norm, you’ll be able to overcome the distractions and get the job done well.