Much has been said about workplace productivity already. We know the basics: Work on one task at a time, take short breaks, drink plenty of water, eat lunch away from your workspace, avoid distractions, get enough sleep. If you’ve been working for a long time, you most likely already know these tips and more, and you’re probably already doing them.
In the time of COVID-19, many of these rules of thumb still work but probably need updating. Our world was not like it was a year ago. Now that most of the world’s workforce is working remotely, and with the advent of new health concerns like Zoom fatigue and cabin fever, we need new and innovative ideas. After all, new normal demands new strategies for workplace productivity.
Here are some updated tips for remote work productivity.
Plan your schedule and stick with it
What did your workday look like when you worked in an office? How about your workweek? Your schedule was most likely subject to a lot of changes throughout the week or even the day, and you probably had to adjust to your managers and colleagues. While this may still be true about telecommuting, working from home gives you more autonomy over your time and schedule like never before. Maximize this freedom by mapping out your workweek—here are some steps to creating a schedule for optimal productivity:
- Determine your priorities. What tasks do you need to finish first? What order works for you? Know your priorities and work your schedule around them.
- Approximate how long a task will take. Be realistic about this; don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself by allocating little time for small tasks just so you can finish faster.
- Work smart, not hard. Working smart simply means saving your energy. You’re not a machine; you’re a human being who unfortunately has limits. This is not to say you should procrastinate—it simply means you need to work and focus on one task at a time.
Start your day right
The key to a productive work-from-home day is by spending your morning like you’re still going to the office. In the new normal, it may be tempting to take your extra free time to sleep an additional 30 minutes in the morning, but waking up when you’re supposed to can help boost your self-esteem and give you pride in the fact that you’re sticking to your commitments.
A productive morning schedule may look something like this: Waking up, meditating, or praying (whatever your spirituality is), doing some stretches or a full-on yoga or workout routine, taking a shower, and having breakfast. Don’t neglect any of these activities. They can give you a sense of accomplishment and energize you for the rest of your workday.
Take your workspace out of your bedroom
A growing body of research shows that working from your bed is not healthy because our brain makes associations between locations and how we should behave in those spaces. It can wire your brain into being confused about rest and work. You might end up having a hard time “switching off” your work brain when it’s time to sleep.
If it’s possible, set up your workspace in a separate office in your home. If you must set it up in your bedroom, make sure you’re facing a window or the wall. Working in full view of your bedroom can muddle your view of the space that’s meant for resting and the space that’s meant for working.
Use your extra free time for productive hobbies
Studies show that having a life outside of your work helps increase one’s productivity. Having a fun pastime can help improve work-life balance and ease stress. Since you’re no longer commuting to work or driving the kids to school, you most likely have more free time than ever before.
For your free time, try new hobbies that can help you get outside of your head gain some distance from your work life. Some hobbies that can help take your mind off things include learning how to play a new instrument and taking online singing classes or practical hobbies that allow you to work with your hands, like pottery, woodcarving, and painting. Watching Netflix all day may be a relaxing way to blow off some steam, but binge-watching can negatively affect your level of motivation and can re-enforce bad habits.
The Benefits of Remote Work
Reports say that telework increases productivity. Take advantage of this new situation and build healthy habits you can bring with you when you return to the office. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and no matter how hard the situation is, we can allow it to change us for the better.