Working from home can seem like a dream come true! No tiring commutes, working at your own pace and the most informal of dress codes are on the list of positives for everyone – but it’s not as easy it sounds.
COVID-19 seems to have put the ‘work from home’ theory to the test. Is it really possible for a digitally enabled workforce to maintain high levels of productivity whilst working from the comfort of their homes? Mind you, with comforts come distractions. Working from home can be highly productive, but it can also go badly wrong. Without a proper office space, a prioritized schedule, and on-the-spot supervision, it’s all too easy to be distracted, and get very little done.
In this blog post I share some of the top tips I have learned from my years of experience on working from home. I work as a professional content writer – which means most of the time I work in solitude. Thankfully this has prepared my mental state to easily work from home during a crisis such as the one we are experiencing now.
1. Work in time blocks of 15 – 45 minutes – depending on your concentration levels.
The human brain isn’t designed to work for four hours or eight hours at a stretch. In reality the human mind cannot stay focused for more than 45 minutes at a time. And thanks to social media apps such as TikTok, Facebook and Instagram, that attention span has been brought down to less than 30 seconds on a particular topic. To overcome this, I personally think people should work in 15-20 minute sprints. This means for each 15-20 minutes that you plan to work, you should give it your all. Your complete undivided attention to the task at hand coupled with high intensity mind focus to complete the task. For that 20 minutes or less, 100% percent of your intelligence should be dedicated to completing the task at hand.
P.s personally, my attention span lasts only as long as it takes me to drink a hot cup of coffee or tea which is approximately 15 minutes – therefore I work in 15 minute sprints – but the momentum of the 15 minute sprint keeps me going for up to one hour.
2. Reward yourself at each break – We are all wired in such a way that we like doing things that make us happy. Just like a puppy can be trained to do something by offering it a treat at the end, people too can find happiness in work if they are rewarded for it. Take for example a field sales person; they suffer all day trying to close sales with small time retailers and at the end of the day they feel rewarded when they are appreciated by their boss and when they are rewarded with sales incentives. Similarly treat yourself to a piece of chocolate or cake after you’ve successfully completed your 20 minutes of high intensity work.
P.s do not smoke, consume alcohol or drugs while working- this will severely affect your productivity
3. Set goals for the day. Before you start working, understand what it is that you want to have achieved by the end of the day. For example if you were to embark on a vacation, you would first decide on where you are going to go, right? You wouldn’t aimlessly drive around thinking – that at the end of the day – you will have successfully reached your destination of choice kiyala. No, you would end up just driving around aimlessly wasting time and fuel. Working from home is the same. Plan your tasks for the day and hold yourself accountable for reaching them.
4. DO NOT Multitask – Personally, in my opinion multitasking is the single greatest enemy of productivity whilst working at home. Multitasking at the office is a whole different story especially when you’re working with like minded highly effective people – it actually improves efficiency. But multitasking at home only leads to a whole bunch of open and incomplete tasks. Finish one task at a time. This way you will get through tasks faster and you will be more organized.
5. Schedule calls the previous day – To help everyone set up their personal day plans, it is best to schedule remote meetings and con-calls at least one day ahead. This way everyone of your colleagues will be prepared ahead of time and will be able to balance their work life schedules in advance. We need to acknowledge that this is a tough situation for everyone and some of us may have pets, kids, parents and sick family members to take care of. Of course work is a priority but being human is also an equal priority. Remember we are all in this together.
6. Be punctual – respect your colleagues’ time. When everybody is working from home, of course everybody is working at a different pace and in a different environment. Just because you have less or more resources at your disposal doesn’t mean you undervalue the time of your colleagues. If calls have been scheduled, be mindful and join the call ideally five minutes ahead or at least two minutes ahead. In my experience I have noticed calls where everybody is present on time – usually conclude within 5 to 30 minutes. Whereas calls where people join in at different times can go up to about an hour or more.
7. Invest in tasty nutritious food – a hungry man is an angry man. Cut off from the world and experiencing a severe drop in social interaction, the human mind will experience dips in motivation to do work. We humans are sort of like pack animals. We need the energies of our co-workers to help us achieve a mental state of productivity. When working from home, we tend to lose our momentum after a few days. Nutritious and tasty food is one of the pleasures we can indulge in to keep our moods happy, elevated and motivated.
8. Be kind, patient and socially responsible – this will pass. Just like after the darkest of nights, there is a sunrise – once the government has successfully achieved flattening of the curve, work will resume back to normal. After a few weeks, the pandemic will have gotten back under control and the government will announce that it is safe to go back to work, albeit taking precautions. Don’t allow yourself to get frustrated with the situation and don’t take out your anger on your colleagues, loved ones or family. Be nice to each because even though you may not know it, everyone is fighting their own battle.
Whether you’re working from home every day, a few times a week, or even just working from home while you’re recovering from illness, these tips can help you get the most out of your telecommuting hours.
You’re not going to believe how much you can get accomplished in a single day!
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