With the coronavirus pandemic spreading quickly these days, most companies would have been asking employees to work from home (if possible) to mitigate the impact of infections. Working from home may seem really easy (like a silver lining in this dark cloud), with all the comfort of your familiar living space and your new savings (no need to spend on public transport or eating out!). However, there’s also the risk of getting distracted when you get too relaxed and procrastination creeps up on you. Have no fear, for this article will help you keep yourself in check and keep productivity levels up even if you’re not in the office.
It may be tempting to work while you’re in bed where it’s nice and soft, but how confident are you that you will stay awake for the next 8 hours? Besides, it can be detrimental since you’re not in the right headspace to actually do work. Having a designated work space can help with putting yourself in the mood to be productive for that duration of time. Keeping the space organised and having all your necessities right where you need them instead of all over the house (no excuses to walk around) will make you more alert and attentive to your tasks for the day. Since you are likely going to be here for the long run (until this pandemic blows over), it won’t hurt to personalise your workspace so you can look forward to utilising it. Your workspace can put you in the zone and give you confidence to collaborate and work closely with your team and managers. Building in a proper schedule to communicate with your team brings me to the next point.
Having a fixed period of time when you are active and working is important since it holds you accountable to your superiors and co-workers. Surely you are not expecting them to call you with urgent matters when you’re having your lunch break or answering the call of nature… right? When planning your available timings to interact with people from work, you might want to consider these few things: Plan your availability and make sure you are properly prepared for each meeting (especially if it's a video chat!) Know when you are most productive (so that you can get more pressing work done during this period) Set guidelines for how you are going to communicate with your colleagues and clients (this can help you avoid the feeling of isolation or like you are not staying in the loop)
Since you will technically be unsupervised during this period, it is recommended that you send your boss daily reports on your activities so that there is an establishment of trust that you will be productive despite the many possible distractions (like social media, family living in the same house…) and temptations to goof off at home.
If you do not live by yourself, you may have to inform your family members/room-mates/significant others/pets to leave you alone during your office hours, so that you don’t get distracted and end up entertaining them rather than focusing on what’s on hand at the moment. Don’t worry, it’s not like you have to isolate yourself for the whole day, you can still see them during breaks and mealtimes! In exchange for your physical absence during this time, do remember to make it up to them in terms of quality time by leaving work out of your personal moments with your loved ones.
Social media is another hurdle to overcome when working from home. We are so dependent on our smartphones that we are practically glued to them from dawn till dusk, and who knows how much faster time flies when we are engrossed in using them? This is not going to be beneficial to your working mindset if your mind drifts every 10 minutes to what’s on Youtube, Instagram or Snapchat. You can consider setting a window where you set your devices to be unable to access any form of social media during work hours and having apps on your phone like Forest: Stay focused by Skeertech to help you keep away from your phone (and grow virtual and real trees at the same time). Now you’re doing it not just for your company, but making the world more lush and green too!
If you are like me, and you cannot seem to be comfortable doing anything without some kind of audio playing in the background, you might want to have a playlist of music to allow yourself to focus and keep your mind entertained. Classical music, for example, has been proven to improve concentration and help with learning. However, if classical music is not your thing, I like to recommend video game soundtracks as well such as the main theme song of Legend of Zelda (it’s actually playing as I’m writing this article!).
It’s not like I’m advocating for playing video games while at work, since it is also a distraction when you’re trying to solve a quest in a game and figure out marketing strategies at the same time. It was actually found that video game developers actually pay quite a handsome sum of money to compose a perfectly balanced soundtrack and therefore balanced gaming experience. Since the soundtracks are not as intrusive (imagine trying to solve a puzzle with heavy metal, ugh), and are composed with the purpose to help players focus, it makes sense that it is also suitable for work, doesn’t it?
If you prefer to work in total silence or at least with minimal audible distraction, I suggest that you invest in a good set of noise-cancelling headphones so you can block out any unwanted noise and work in peace. It will be best if you pick a pair of comfortable headphones, since you will be using it for at least 8 hours every day. Don’t want sore ears now, do we? If you’re going to use headphones for conference calls, be sure they are of good quality if you want people to be able to hear you clearly on the other end!
Hopefully the tips above will help you have a pleasant experience working from home and let you get your work done without feeling like it’s a chore. While the pandemic is still going strong out there, we should count our blessings that there are people who do not get to work from home. There are many workers who are out on the frontlines fighting for the health of everyone. Without these heroes, we would not be able to get through this alive and we will be forever grateful for their efforts.