Whether you are working at home or again at the office, finding the necessary focus and productivity brings its own set of challenges for everyone. We can all apply simple methods to our day’s work to help us maintain productivity and get a lot done. Follow some of the tips below and see what can work for you!
1. Meal and snack prep
Try to pre-cut some fruit before your day begins or cook a few lunches in advance the evening before. Simple things like this can make you more efficient with your time during the working day, limiting how much time you spend staring at your fridge!
2. Apply the ROWE mindset
A ‘Results Only Work Environment’ is a policy that some companies implement where employees are paid on their results. It’s unlikely that this becomes the norm for your company but adopting this mindset can be a powerful productivity tool.
It keeps you focused on the results rather than the time you spend getting there. The focus on met or unmet results allows you the freedom to focus on what is important at the time and can help you stay away from distractions and other tasks.
3. Removing distractions
This one may seem obvious, but distractions can get the better of anyone. If there are specific distractions which you can avoid, such as watching TV or constantly checking your fridge, it’s best to try and remove yourself from them. That could look like facing away from the TV in your living room or having snacks close to your workstation. Simple!
4. Schedule your breaks
When working in your usual office it’s easy to know when you’ll take a break. Most likely, you take a break at similar times each day and you are reminded when you see other colleagues taking breaks, which does not happen when you are working from home.
Try to schedule at least 2 or 3 of your breaks before the day begins and keep that timing rigid. This way, you at least have pre-defined breaks that you know of and you can give your mind the well-deserved break it needs. Lunch at 1pm every day for example!
5. Nail your morning routine
When working from home, it is easy to roll out of bed, use the bathroom, visit the kitchen and then dive straight into your laptop. It may seem like a nice idea, and even the right thing to do. But it has been well established that creating a solid morning routine, with clear and timed steps can help boost your focus, productivity and creativity when working from home.
Keep it simple and make sure you tick off the essentials. Grab yourself a shower, put on some fresh clothes and make a light breakfast. That’s already three steps to a great morning routine. What else would you add?
6. Plan, plan, plan
Try to spend 10-15 minutes as soon as you begin working to plan out your tasks for the day. Or even better: do it the day before. Use this time to assess priorities and schedule in tasks and calls. It’s a simple trick to maximise your day and get the most done. But don’t plan more than six of your eight working hours. That leaves you some space if something urgent comes along. ‘Hidden’ tasks such as administrative work also take up time.
7. Setting boundaries
Now that work and home life have almost blurred into one, it’s extremely important to set practical boundaries. Not only will this let you take your mind off work, it can lead to increased productivity as you get better at maintaining them.
Try to set a hard time by which you finish for the day and stick to it. Communicate with your colleagues so they are also aware and know not to disturb you.
8. Set physical boundaries
As much as time-based boundaries are important, it’s also a good idea to set physical boundaries if possible, too. It can be difficult if living in a small apartment or sharing a home with others but try your best to designate yourself a workspace and let the people around you know this. This way, you will start to create a psychological association with the space and this can help you ‘switch on’ and stay focused.
9. Set your status
Now that most colleagues are at home, it’s likely that you are using some kind of collaboration tool such as Slack, Microsoft Teams or Skype. Use the ‘status’ function to clearly let the rest of your team know when you are available or not. By doing this, your colleagues will know when they can engage with you but most importantly it keeps them from disturbing you at times when you want to take a break or focus on an important task.
10. Self-care, now more than ever!
During this time, above all else, it is critical to take care of yourself as and when you feel it is needed. Did you just have a difficult video call? Take 15 minutes to ease your mind and grab a hot drink. Did you complete a task that was taking up a lot of time? Congratulate yourself and take 10 minutes to rest.
Whatever form it may take, self-care will be an important addition to your productivity toolkit.