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The effects of a lockdown vary from person to person. For example, if you work efficiently in any environment and are not easily distracted, this article might not be for you. But, if you’re like me and need help adjusting to a long-term home office scenario, keep reading.
I live alone, don’t wake up early without good reason, love to procrastinate during the day, and stay up late doing nothing. Therefore, having to be home during lockdown and provide for myself brought some newfound challenges. Here are five tips on how I've kept sane and productive while working from home:
TIP 1: WAKE UP AND GET ORGANIZED
Not having to wake up to an alarm is one of the best perks of working from home, but letting yourself routinely wake up late can have a significant effect on productivity. Fun distractions are everywhere with no pressure to ignore them because work can be done anytime, right? Introducing a little structure to your day—especially in the morning—can reduce this risk of falling behind early.
Having a daily stand-up when everyone can be expected to appear online (such as 9 am) is a great motivation for getting out of bed. Start your day by checking in with colleagues and make a list of what you need to do. Moreover, this gives you a reason to not stay up too late.
TIP 2: FIND YOUR PEAK PRODUCTIVITY TIME
Some people are more productive in the mornings (like me) and some get the majority of their work done in the afternoon. Normally, I try to arrive at the office early, which gives me more free time in the evening. On the weekends, I do the exact opposite and laze my way through breakfast. When working at home, every day can feel like a Saturday. How do we fix that?
You might wake up with an awesome plan to revive an old hobby. With virtually no commute time and not being able to go out, there’s never been a better time, right? Who wouldn’t want to start their day this way? Well, I recommend not to. The time you’ve saved allows you to have fun earlier, but it’s not worth wasting the most productive part of the day. Keep to your normal schedule as if you were at the office and take notice of when you are most productive.
TIP 3: COOK FOR TWO, EAT FOR ONE
On a normal day, I typically spend 30 minutes having lunch with colleagues. Unless you are a big fan of fried eggs or toast, it’s good practice to replicate a similar timeline when cooking and eating at home. There is a limited variety of easy-to-make things, such as simple pasta dishes, but it gets annoying to eat them all the time. But what about Uber Eats or take out? A good idea, but not the most economical solution to the problem. What to do then?
When you cook, cook big. You might not fancy the same meal twice the same day, but a dinner one night can be your lunch in a couple of days. All that time you’re saving by not commuting to the office can be used later on for prepping meals. And it’s a fun way to practice your planning and managing skills on the go!
TIP 4: TAKE MEANINGFUL BREAKS
It is easy to say, “I’ll watch just one episode of [insert your favorite show here] and then continue working,” but we know this can turn into a season-long marathon. But everyone needs a break!
Try alternating focused work periods with meaningful activities that relax the brain, but are limited in time. Playing a musical instrument or exercising is a great way to boost your productivity. A power nap can work wonders, too, and it’s a great way to reduce your caffeine intake. If you really miss chatting with someone, call your grandparents or another relative while you have your coffee. It’s not the same as being in the office, but it’s close.
TIP 5: HAVE AN EVENING PLAN
Remember that hobby you wanted to start up again? Now is the time. Plan it for the evening and you will have both an incentive to not work late and something to look forward to. Or take a short bike ride or jog before it gets dark. Not knowing or disrespecting work limits is one of the biggest disadvantages of working at home and having a good reason to wrap everything up makes this easier.
I hope these tips can help you take advantage of the fewer distractions and flexible, pressure-free schedule that the home office can provide. Be sure you don’t overdo it and waste this newly found free time by thinking you can “just work later.”