My home is my “comfy zone” and I am pretty sure that we can all relate to that, it’s where we land after a full day of flying around and working. But now as the preventive measures for Covid-19 have been bestowed upon us, my home has now also become my full-time office, as is for many others over the world. Evidently, there should be no reason to complain, as social distancing is as deemed by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) “the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease”. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html) Nevertheless, it can be difficult to adjust to working at home and achieving the desired productivity levels. So today, let me share with you some tips and techniques based on personal experience and professional expertise.
- Plan the Night Before
I highly recommend you make a list of things you would like to complete the next day and a few goals that you have as well before you go to sleep. This way your mind does not wander while you sleep and the following day you already are prepared mentally with the tasks needed to complete, making it easier for you to get into the “work” zone. Also, by having the list at hand, throughout the day you are able to check off the tasks that you have completed, each check on the list will make you even more motivated to complete the next. This motivation will quite obviously help you be highly productive.
- Minimizing Distraction
Many times, while working it is not like we choose to become distracted or scroll through our phone, but our mind likes to make us things about things that make us feel good. Such as our children, strangers on social media, and perhaps the new ice cream that is sitting in our fridge waiting to be eaten. But all these interruptions whether they be our kids, social media, or our own mindly wanderings, end up breaking the attention and work zone, so once this focus and motivation are lost, consequently so is the productivity. Some key ways to minimize distraction are to choose a desk setup that is in a quieter area of your house, let your family members know your routine so that they are able to respect your work hours, and keep your phone farther than an arm’s reach away from you. Waking up early is one of the main ways to minimize distractions as early in the morning the mind is fresh, alert, and does less wandering around. The morning hours are also naturally quieter, once again minimizing distractions. Waking up early is a common technique used by successful people for this very reason, nevertheless dependent on your household, work timings, and personal health.
- Create a Routine
This can not be said enough from me, but please, make a routine for yourself that designates your separate work times and break times. It is pertinent for our brain to know which times slots are allotted for certain tasks so that our brain spends more time focusing on doing the work rather than deciding when to do the work. We only have so much fuel in our creativity, so by having a routine that we follow consistently, we are able to develop more creativity and insights when completing our tasks. In addition, we can stay relaxed and go through our day with flow, as a routine turns all the chaos of our day and makes it more controlled and organized. A routine also allows us to move throughout our day with momentum and efficiency as not only do we have goals, but our priorities have already been set and so have the timings, this forces our brain to stick to the schedule and complete all the tasks we set out to complete. Midst completing all our work, a routine is the perfect way for us to take breaks, exercise, and spend time on self-care. In fact, that is the next step for optimized productivity.
- Treat Yourself with Care
It’s been instilled in our minds for too long that self-care is a luxury, a big part of that is because of social media, endorsing spas and long baths filled to the rim with bubbles and women that have cucumbers in their eyes as self-care techniques. And while that is a completely fine way of caring for ourselves, I am just not sure how realistic that is in our daily lives, but I do credit a warm bath with some Epsom salt for having its effects in relieving muscle and joint pain. However, “taking a bath” is not the only form of self-care, and probably the least efficient in the busy lifestyle we all have and certainly not the aid for our mental well being. Everyday ways of self-care are, treating yourself with kindness, taking necessary breaks, saying NO when there is already too much on your plate, exercising your body, getting proper sleep, nourishing yourself with healthy food and adequate water, doing some journal writing, and once again being understanding and warm towards yourself. Additionally, a key technique for self-care is mindfulness, which keeps us aware, focused, and present midst a busy day. One of the most common forms of mindfulness is meditation, and I highly recommend that you try it. Another technique is deep breathing. All of these self-care techniques in way form or the other keep us at a mental state of relax and awareness, which helps us focus on our work, problem solves any difficulties that may arise, keep us energized, gives us a way to break away from stressful situations, and improves cognitive function. It is evident that all these reasons come back to efficiency and you being positively productive throughout your day when working at home.
- Avoid Multitasking
As a working mother, I completely understand that we have many responsibilities at hand, and choosing between our kids, cleaning, professional work, and preparing food is just not possible. Going back to routine, if we have set timings written down for all daily activities, which includes work, cleaning, cooking, eating, breaks and exercise, our mind will wander less and help us achieve our goals. Many of us find that switching back and forth between tabs on our laptop and working on a file and listening to a lecture at the same time would be more productive. Unfortunately, that is not true, divided attention reduces our performance on both the tasks. We have a limited amount of attention that we can give to the world around us and when it runs out, we must drop something. Just the way our computer only takes one command at a time. Can you press 2 letter keys at once? So rather, work on one task with your full attention and then move on to the next. Along with being more productive and efficient, you will be able to get the tasks completed to the best of your ability.
To conclude, this is a new lifestyle that we all must get used to, so hopefully, these 5 tips will help you be more productive!