Being productive from 9am to 5pm can be difficult at the best of times. Now, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us have been forced to adapt quickly and seamlessly to a new way of working from home – and to maintain productivity levels while we are at it.
While smashing out emails and client reports from the comfort of your living room and in your comfiest trackies sounds, well, appealing, remaining productive in this environment comes with a new set of challenges. Out of routine? Not bothering to change out of your pyjamas? Finding the pile of laundry is distracting you from completing your client report?
We’ve gathered some top tips to help you stay productive while working from home:
Create a dedicated work space
Avoid the temptation to grab your laptop and crawl back under your doona covers. This can confuse your brain in terms of ‘working’ vs ‘relaxation’ zones, affecting your ability to sleep when it comes to bedtime and making you less productive. Ensure you have a dedicated work space that’s separate from your place for slumber.
Set work hours and expectations
Choose specific work hours that you’ll stick to. Is your gal pal trying to call you for an early arvo gossip sesh? Set boundaries and ensure that your friends and family are aware of your work hours. Likewise, you might wish to inform your boss that 5pm onwards is family time. Setting limits will also help you be more focused on your tasks at hand. And don’t forget to take breaks as you would at an office – 3pm snack time with your work bestie can still happen via Zoom. Just don’t spend extended periods of time doing housework or giving in to distractions (Netflix can wait until after dinner).
Keep a routine
While we’ve already agreed that working in your pyjamas sounds magnificent, it isn’t ideal for productivity levels. Wearing your office heels around the house might not be plausible either, but sticking to a morning routine where you change from sleep pjs to day clothes is worth considering. It lets your brain know it’s time to work!
Keep your work space well-lit
Work spaces that are too dim can cause eye strain, while too much artificial light can cause sleepiness. Studies suggest that working in natural light ensures a happier and more productive commitment. If possible, set up your home desk so that you have at least two points of light, one being natural light.
Alternating between sitting and standing at your desk helps your posture and overall health, and it boosts productivity. Guilty of getting carried away with emails and before you know it, you’ve been sitting for hours? Here’s some compact stand-up desk options from Vari. Alternatively, a stack of magazines at the kitchen bench can work as a makeshift standing desk.
To fully enjoy after-work hours, stay organised. Leaving your office area in chaos creates an unwelcome reminder of what needs to get done. File away notebooks and office equipment so unfinished business is out of sight and out of mind. Then you can relax and enjoy your latest read without thinking of everything you didn’t cross off your list.
Be active while working
Standing up and moving at intervals throughout the day can boost your energy levels and will make up for the activity you’d normally get from moving around the office. Try an at-home yoga sesh or go for a run during your lunch break, or use a smaller drink bottle so you need to get up to fill it more frequently. And make it a habit to stand or walk around when taking phone calls or Zoom meetings.