13 tips to increase productivity for working from home during Lockdown

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are recommending, even requiring that more employees work from home. Working from home can be a lonely enterprise in this era of social distancing, but it does not have to be.

Many people feel they would lack the self-discipline and focus required to be highly productive if they work from home.

For those who are not used to working from home or who don’t have an organized work station, distractions can disrupt your productivity.

1 . Follow a Morning routine:

Deciding you’ll sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another. What in your morning routine delineates the start of work? It might be making a cup of coffee. It might be returning home after a jog. It might be getting dressed. Create a morning routine that ends with you starting the work.

So many mornings people wake up and do two uninspired things…

  • Check the phone, look at new e-mails and social media feeds
  • Turn on the TV

    The problem with filling your life with screens for the first hour of the day is that it completely sucks away the productivity. You struggle to get inspired when you’ve been watching TV for too long in the morning and have been glued to your phone and have gotten pretty much nothing accomplished. It’s relaxing, I guess, but it doesn’t do a thing for my productivity.

  • 2 . Stay Positive:

    One of the most important things is to stay positive at all times. What we need to understand is that we are all in a state of crisis and not being unproductive should be the last thing we should be worried about. Positivity is something that will get us through this rough patch in our lives. Productivity will follow thereafter.

    When you work remotely full-time, you must be positive, to the point where it may feel like you’re being overly positive. Otherwise, you risk sounding like a jerk. It’s unfortunate, but true.

    3 . Dress Up:

    Fashion doesn’t really exist when the world is on lockdown, but psychologists recommend you get dressed for work rather than joining those video calls in your PJs. More than just keeping up appearances, it helps to put your brain in work mode. Get ready as if you are going to work.

    If you would normally wear a shirt to work, wear one in the home office too. “Get dressed in the morning, make yourself feel like you’re going to work,” says Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational psychologist at Manchester Business School. “But be comfortable.”

    4 . Set up a separate workspace:

    The best solution is to replicating your office environment at home. Daily office goers are in the habit of working in a formal space. To ensure optimal productivity while working from home, take time to assemble ‘home-office space.’ For example, you may set-up your laptop/desktop, office files, and other items in the manner as they were positioned on your office desk.

    Just because you’re not working at an office doesn’t mean you can’t, well, have an office. Rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the couch — spaces that are associated with leisure time — dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work.

    5 . Minimize distractions and Social media:

    The biggest challenge in a WFH routine is the presence of other people at home. Block out these human distractions by setting ground rules with them. It helps to pretend you are not at home while following rigid work hours. Do not get involved in personal calls or housework.

    Worse, don’t go on to YouTube or start scrolling endlessly on Instagram because you know no one is physically monitoring you. While social media is one of the many things that has helped us through this tough time, it is also one of the reasons why you have this fear of missing out on things. Social media is the source that tells you about the productive things people are doing, making you feel useless and incompetent. This is why you need to maintain some distance with your social media and focus more on the things that give you positivity.

    6 . Schedule / To do list:

    The first step to ensure that your work-from-home plan is a success is to set regular work hours. By planning a work schedule, you will create a harmonious and productive work atmosphere for yourself at home. While it is okay to take short breaks (just as you would while in the office), it is not right to fall prey to the temptation of procrastination. Proper work hours will ensure that you are both accountable for your work as well as the organization you work for. More importantly, you will get more work done productively within the set time frame.

    To crack the productivity code, schedule the toughest tasks for the morning and calls in the afternoon.

    7 . Stay Connected:

    While many of us are working from within the comfort of our homes, it is important to stay in the loop. Remember that the situation we’re in today is that of physical distancing and social solidarity

    Loss of social life is one of the major cons of working remotely. Even a simple conversation with colleagues or connecting at work can be mind-refreshing. Just productivity tips won’t help here. The sense of isolation will likely affect your mindset and overall work efficiency.

    Video calling with your co-workers (or your family members if they stay afar) can be an excellent source to fill this gap. Schedule time for online conversations with your colleagues. So, try to stay in touch with your family members, friends, and colleagues. Be the support structure for your loved ones and your co-workers in this time of need, and they’ll surely reciprocate.

    8 . Set Priorities:

    Before you start the day, have a task list or target sheet ready. Prioritise your projects and schedule time slots. Include some buffer time to cater for contingencies like unforeseen work calls and new tasks received unexpectedly. Don’t leave planned tasks unfinished and don’t switch between them or get pulled away by your need to respond to a new email. Multi-tasking or frequent switching kills productivity.

    By starting with the scarier, more important tasks — which are often the hardest, lengthiest, and most time-consuming — you’ll knock that anxiety on the head straight away. Plus, you’ll still have a full tank to focus on the rest of your daily tasks.

    This is why prioritizing high-value tasks are especially important for remote workers.

    9 . Schedule your rest breaks:

    Nobody can or should work continuously. Breaks are a must, especially in a stressful time like this. So, when you plan your work schedule, make sure to include a few tiny break slots in between. For instance, if you work for eight hours a day, keep a five to ten mins break in every quarter. So, four short breaks in total. In the planned breaks, you could maybe take a quick stroll around your house or garden, engage in light banter with your inmates, play with your pet, or enjoy a quick munchie.

    Short breaks will help you break off from the monotony of work while also allowing your brain and body to de-stress. Give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone.

    10 . Enroll for online training / certification:

    This lockdown has given many people extra time in their hands, while some are working from home but the daily commute time and time spent in leisure activities outside the home is now cut away.

    Some might engage in habits that already existed many are finding it difficult to have one. Use this opportunity to invest in life changing skills to forever accelerate growth, upgrade your knowledge.

    This is the best time to acquire some new skills. Learn something you are passionate about. Explore your likes and dislikes. In lockdown, going online is the best way to get knowledge.

    11 . Proper sleep:

    Sleep can significantly impact productivity. The American Academy of Sleep has found that those who sleep for 5–6 hours per night will be 19% less productive at work the next day, compared with when they sleep between 7–8 hours per night.

    Sleep is crucial to our immune systems. When we sleep our bodies release proteins that help fight inflammation, infection, and trauma. Sleep deprivation can weaken our immune systems and make it harder for us to fight bugs.

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, normal routines have been disrupted. Many are now working from home, and parents and carers have additional responsibilities as a result of normal services being limited or stopped to comply with social distancing and lockdown measures.

    As a result of changes to routines, and a lack of structure in our everyday lives — many are finding it more difficult to fall to sleep — and sleep well.

    If you are struggling to sleep, try to create and stick to a daily routine. This routine should include scheduled meals, working times, breaks, bedtimes, and waking times. Following a routine can help rebalance and stabilize bodily functions and circadian rhythms, both of which are important to achieving quality sleep.

    12 . Do not Procrastinate::

    The coronavirus lockdown is making people procrastinate more than ever. After all, life has become confined to the walls of our homes where we hold our meetings, do our assignments, unwind, and sleep, all under the same roof. No wonder our personal and professional life is overlapping with each other in unusual ways, making our work hours getting mixed with our leisure. The result: procrastination.

    It’s no mystery that humans procrastinate. But in times like these, procrastination can turn into a habit and soon into a conspicuous trait if left unaddressed.

    This simple approach can help you to knock procrastination on the head. Get your least appealing task(s) out of the way first thing and you’ll find that you procrastinate far less when it comes to completing the rest of your To Do list..

    As well as cutting out your own procrastination, make sure that you don’t prevent others from completing their work in a timely fashion too. If you do, you may well find yourself drawn into other tasks or causes of delay to your own working day, as well as to theirs!

    13 . Take care of yourself/ self care:

    Last but certainly not least, it’s really important to take care of yourself when you work from home, which often means staying in tune with your energy levels. Telecommuters tend to take fewer sick days, often choosing to work through not feeling well.

    If you’re working at home unexpectedly due to new social distancing measures, remember to give yourself some credit. Any new situation takes a period of adjustment, let alone one that weighs on the mind so much as the COVID-19 outbreak. So if you’re having a difficult day, don’t despair; you’re far from alone. Well, figuratively, at least!

    If you want to be your best while working from home, make healthy living a priority. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a varied diet and keep yourself well hydrated.

    The stress of finding yourself isolated from friends, extended family and colleagues is not to be underestimated. As such, an important part of working from home successfully is to recognize that stress and take measures to mitigate it.

    Working from home takes discipline. If you’re just starting out, it may take you a little time to find your groove, but if you follow the tips above you’ll find it a lot more easier. The key is to keep a good work-life balance, establish boundaries, and take care of yourself.


    Pavithra Naidu

    Budding Writer

    Unlearn, Learn, and Grow

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