Covid-19 has been a part of our lives for more than two years now. We have been working from home, going back to the office, trying out stay-cations, work-cations and what not. Our favorite so far has been working from home and working remotely in co-working spaces. Entering the so-called third wave and what looks like yet another series of lockdowns, working from home isn’t something ‘new and exciting’ anymore.
Here are a few tips to boost your performance while you WFH – Work From Home –
1. Have a dedicated Working Space
The very first step in increasing your productivity while working from home is to feel like you’re working, not relaxing. So get out of that bed or the sofa and make yourself a comfortable yet inspiring desk. Your work from home setup should ideally be stationary – meaning it shouldn’t have an option of disassembling or folding and keeping away. This alternative is risky since you may or may not feel like setting it up tomorrow and end up working from bed.
Those (including myself) who do not have the luxury of a dedicated area for the WFH setup must rely on self-motivation to assemble AND disassemble it daily. Putting up motivational and inspiring posters around where you usually sit might help on one of those days where you feel like not working at all.
2. Keep it simple
DO NOT CLUTTER. That’s the mantra you need to remember if you wish to get any work done. Working from home in India is distracting enough. We do not need unnecessary stuff on our desks to make us think about unimportant things!
Get rid of things that DO NOT help you concentrate – even if they don’t typically interest you, they most definitely will while working! Avoid having lunch at your desk. And if you do, get rid of the dishes before you resume work to dodge side-eyeing the leftovers and feeling hungry for no reason later.
3. Dress for the job!
Feeling lethargic and work productivity are directly proportional to each other. If you’re not fresh and start working while still in pajamas, you’re not going to get as much work done as you would while you were freshly dressed.
Waking up 2 minutes before the meeting and joining while still in bed will not let you concentrate enough. Make sure that you have enough time for yourself in the morning, and dress up as though you were to work from the office. Doing this will make you fully awake and help get your mind in the right temperament.
4. Have dedicated working hours
Working from home has thrown away the work-life balance we kept trying to achieve. The assumption that we can work anytime they need us to – simply because we are home and have nowhere else to go – has unfortunately hampered the mental health of many employees since the pandemic has hit.
To ensure our mental peace and have more time for ourselves and our family, we must establish strict working hours. This way, you can ensure that you’re not over-working (or working too little) and deliver the work regularly.
5. Have Ground Rules at home
Setting ground rules with your housemates or family is the next step to maintaining focus. Make sure you share your break timings with them and ask not to be disturbed otherwise. Sticking to these timings helps you and them to maintain healthy communication and increases your productivity while working from home.
When you AND everyone around you maintain the correct atmosphere, you will get more work done faster and spend quality time with your family later.
6. Make a plan and stick to it!
Working remotely often takes the focus off the number of tasks and redirects it to compulsively focusing on just one. Forgetting a small but vital detail is easy when you have distractions around.
Make a list of ALL the things you need to get done before you start working. As the day goes by, crossing off tasks that you accomplished and even adding more on the go will help you keep track of your work and manage your time effectively.
If you get everything done before your day ends, try to make the next day’s plan and keep going. Do NOT compromise the work hours at any cost!
7. No visitors (read friends) allowed!
Working from home may get monotonous at some point. But inviting or having friends over while you work is not the solution. While it may seem like a fun idea to gather a few friends as everyone does their own ‘remote working’, it’s a distracting change from your regular ‘work from home’ schedule and will negatively affect your productivity.
Choose to keep your social life for non-working hours and on weekly offs. You can then enjoy yourself with your friends by not distributing your attention and fully being present.
8. Take a break, not a vacation!
We all know how a 10-minute break magically becomes a two-hour vacation from work! May it be a breather-break or a celebration upon submitting an assignment – always time your breaks and make sure you do not get out of the work mode and are in a condition to get back at it without losing the flow.
You can use your phone timer, an alarm clock, or even two lives on your favorite game (only if you have the self-control to quit after dying twice) as a reminder to get back to work without feeling lazy and lethargic.
9. Schedule chores post work.
You can always do it before you start working, but that’s a risky approach since one thing might lead to another, and you probably won’t start work on time. Schedule the household chores and grocery shopping trips in your post-work period. You can keep a list handy while you work, so if something pops up in your head, you can always make a note of it (and honestly do it later)
And last, but not least –
10. Take care of yourself!
All these tips and tricks won’t help at all if you’re burned out and exhausted. Take time to slow down and give yourself the love you truly deserve.
Get outside for a walk every day, listen to music, cook the food you enjoy, and connect with friends and family- even if it’s virtually. Don’t lose your hobbies and things that make you happy while you hustle so hard.
Go easy on yourself and reach out if you need help. Various organisations and platforms are now offering free/low-cost counselling services to students and professionals working from home.
While none of us knows exactly how long this working remotely will go on, we should all be there for each other and check up on our loved ones. Avoid going out simply because it’s boring to stay at home all the time. It’s a crucial time, and we need not give the deadly virus more reason to spread.