Working from home tips: How to stay productive

The severity of the COVID-19 pandemic moved both governments and the private sector to consider measures to halt the spread of the disease, including social distancing options like working from homes. This is an effort to avoid more cases and contain the virus.

As a non-traditional setup though, there are plenty of distractions for workers who are already at ease in a 9-to-5 office environment. So, how to adjust to working from home and keep production up?

Go to ‘work’, avoid distractions

Arrange a working space. This retains the office vibe that helps in focus. A well-lit, spacious room where one can put up a desk and a chair is an example of a perfect setup. Another thing is to maintain professionalism. Do prep routines, and wear work clothes. Kristine Servando, deputy head of Asia Digital, said in an interview with Bloomberg:“It makes me feel awake, fresh, productive, and less slovenly. It was part of the mental trick of demarcating between work and the rest of your life.”

When it comes to productivity, it is important to list the tasks for the day before starting the work. This helps in keeping up with the progress. Dr. Thuyvy Nguyen of Durham University recommends making a structured daily schedule. In an interview with Time, she said, “Usually, our time and the structure of our day are influenced by other people. You’re going to experience your day as lacking the normal structures that you usually have. People might have a hard time dealing with it. Time spent alone is better if it’s structured.”

Eric Lam, a reporter based in Hong Kong, gave advice in maintaining a work ethic at home. “Try to stick to some semblance of your original routine from before you started working from home. Give yourself a bit of time before you start to wake yourself up. Have a coffee. Make breakfast,” he said.

When at home, distractions are all over the place. These factors may lead to procrastination. When procrastination starts to manipulate the work drive, it only prolongs the tasks. “YouTube and other visual distractions should be avoided entirely during work hours. Temptations like these are all too easy when home officing. But you will end up achieving nothing aside from a migraine. Draw up your list of tasks of the day and stay focused,” said Graeme Campbell of Highsnobiety. Always keep in mind that the time for leisure and entertainment is assigned after work. Rest is well-deserved after a long day of work.

Set boundaries

It is important to set boundaries with people at home. They might not be familiar about how working from home works. They can associate it with being free to do anything. Inform them of the situation, and that there should be no disturbance. If such measures don’t work, deliberately isolate from them. Alex Millson, a news desk editor, suggested that noise-cancelling headphones help. “I just bought a pair of the latest earphones from a popular brand,” he shared. “They are great at drowning out the playgroup we host once a week and other close-quarter distractions.”

For parents, keeping kids at bay can be very difficult. Giving children things to do while parents work can make things easier. “If none (of the verbal warnings) work, give them a gadget,” said Young Sam Cho, an editor. But aside from exposing children to technology, other resources may also work. “Prepare enough books and toys,” said Penny Peng, a news editor based in Beijing. “But give them to kids only in batches.”

Setting boundaries with the work itself is also important. Overdoing it may be fulfilling, but it may also take its toll and result in stress.

Be updated

Isolation while doing work is good, as mentioned earlier. It helps maintain focus and productivity. But total social isolation is bad. It is important to keep social contacts, especially if one is used to interacting with officemates. Always keep your workmates and/or teammates updated with the progress of tasks. Mercey Livingston shared her sentiments about socializing even at home:“As distracting as some office environments can be, there’s nothing like having coworkers I enjoy working with catch up throughout the day. Make time to connect with others. (It can be by) FaceTiming your work husband or work wife.”

Also stay in touch with close friends and loved ones. Communication is important given the current crisis that the world is facing.

Make sure to use free time as a way to break monotony. Doing so can release stress and pent-up emotions that accumulate at work. Opening up is a form of an emotional support system, after all.

Take a break

When work gets overwhelming, it is okay to take a break. Recharge by having your favorite snack; destress with a cup of coffee or tea. Feleg Tesema, a staff writer at Highsnobiety, shared her favorite form of relaxation during breaks. “You should cut out at least to 15 minutes each day to meditate. (It) helps relieve stress,” she said. “Burn some incense or (light) a candle. Give your mind a break. If you’re a novice, there are a plethora of guided meditation apps to help you.”

Livingston also wrote in her blog that it is important to allot time for breaks. “You should aim to take a break every 75 to 90 minutes, for about 15 minutes per break. Ideally, your break should involve no screens at all. Get some fresh air,” she wrote. “You’ll find that you’re much more productive if you walk away from your desk and computer.”

Stay conscious of your health

The purpose of companies and businesses in reinforcing work from home is for the well-being of their employees. For them to make up for it, they should follow the guidelines set by health organizations. Stay healthy by eating right and taking vitamins and supplements that help boost immunity. If being at home risks an active lifestyle, do indoor exercises.

Avoid going outdoors. If it can’t be helped, wash hands after being in contact with other people or public facilities. The situation that the world is currently facing is alarming and devastating. The only way that most people can help is by taking good care of themselves.

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