Don’t work from bed. You want your bed to be a place of peace and calm, not work stress.
The situation we are in right now, the pandemic and our so-called “new normal”, has made some drastic changes to the global work scenario. Many global employers opt for work-from-home to save our economy from a new depression. Little did we know that we’d be facing a slightly different depression.
Yes, I know, working from home sounds peachy. You avoid traffic and colleagues you dislike; you don’t have to dress up and you can literally work in your PJs, you can eat whenever you want and whatever you want. On paper, it’s all rainbows and butterflies, and this remote work comes with great perks.
There is just one thing though, most of us are not particularly good at it. Most of us find it incredibly hard – distractions! We spend our time fighting distractions and feeling guilty for losing that battle. We’ve all been there, including me. However, let’s all take a breath. I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks that have helped me through these challenging times in our lives.
One of alot of common and biggest challenges is the lack of social interaction. I mean, we try. We really do. We even have virtual hangouts and remote lunches to stay connected. But it’s not enough now, is it? My coffee breaks are with myself and I, and there is no queue at the water cooler to strike up a conversation about the weather. But it’s not just me. Airtasker reports 70% of people rank work social relationships as important as getting the work done. Working from home minimizes the amount of social interaction.
All this leads to obstacles when sharing information. This is especially hard on the newbies. Even the easiest question becomes turmoil and creates stressful situations. According to the New York Times, the hardest part of working from home is loneliness and lack of social interaction.
Additionally, you might have a similar situation as many – our children. The kids see that you are at home which means only one thing – it’s playtime!
We made a list of what we’ve learned and discovered in this past year. These are some effective ways to manage working from home.
- Make Your Bed
This is probably the last thing you want to do early in the morning. You just want to get your hands on that cup of coffee and get on with it. Well, that sounds great, but in reality, it is not. According to this survey, if you spend an extra minute or two fluffing your pillows in the morning, you’ll be more productive.
One of our favourite entrepreneurs and leadership bestselling author, , Tim Ferriss, claims that making your bed in the morning gives you some kind of an accomplishment, and no matter what you do during the day, there is that one thing you were able to finish.
Admiral William H. McRaven had a thing to say on the matter during his speech at the University of Texas at Austin. “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
And let’s be honest, a tidy bed looks and feels better than a messy one.
- Create Working Space In Your Home
Yeah I know, we don’t all live in huge apartments and have separate office space to work. That would be a dream…However, not all is lost. I’m sure we can all find some corner in our apartment and use it as a working space. I believe it is crucial to avoid making the bed our working area. So try setting up a desk, or if impossible, try using your dining table as a desk when you are working from home. Recently, I was amused to see Under-Secretary-General Melissa Fleming turning her ironing board into a desk. She says she likes this because she can move it into different rooms, change scenery and perspective. How brilliant is that?!
So just get creative and make a motivating workspace at home because it is vital for your productivity and focus.
- Poor Air Quality
The main reason why you should maintain good air quality is that it can help you stay healthy. Also, poor air quality can have a negative impact on your mood and cognitive abilities. It can cause you to experience fatigue, mood swings, depression, and loss of concentration, resulting in lower productivity. But, worry not. You can take some simple steps to improve the air quality: open a window, use an air purifier, turn on your AC (but only if your filters have been cleaned), put some house plants that purify the indoor air. Now, breathe!
- Plan, Plan, And Plan
Working from home also means setting some boundaries. As the saying goes, “Good fences make good neighbours”. That means try to fence off your work area and the amount of time you spend at work because that can help pump up your productivity. Make sure to make a plan with daily tasks so that you can keep track of your time. I started this habit of planning things ahead even when I was going to the office. It works wonders, especially when working from home. Create a to-do list for the next day, and voila – you can be on track! It gives structure to follow, helps you become more focused, and saves time when you begin working the following day.
Use The Right Tools to Increase Productivity.
Some of you probably still use paper and pen however, lets work on stepping up our wfh game. After all, juggling between multiple projects, tasks, social media, etc. is not for the faint-hearted.
So let’s get the ball rolling. If you have a team who you work with, you’ll probably need an app that will connect you all.
Try the Monday app (Hyperlink to Monday app). It offers calendars, boards, and tracking. There are many other similar apps as well, you just need to try them out and see which one suits you best. (Hyperlink to Monday app)
Now, this is all fun and games if we can focus on our work. But what happens when we are trying to prevent ourselves from using social media? We convince ourselves that we just want to check if we have any new messages, and half an hour later we are doing online shopping for kitchen appliances we didn’t even know existed.
Try Focus. (link to focus app). You can completely block websites or applications with this one. And once you try to go back, they’ll show you a motivational quote to make you continue with your work. Nice touch.
One of the biggest challenges is communication. The face-to-face talks are gone and replaced by emails and chat rooms, which is a bit time-consuming, to be frank. Also, we are bombarded with information we don’t necessarily need. I’m in some email threads by co-workers I don’t even know (don’t tell), nor I know why I’m CCd in the first place. My point is, I know it’s good to stay in the loop, but sometimes it can be too much.
What I would suggest for increasing productivity is to use only one communication platform and have all your co-workers in one place. As I mentioned earlier you can do this with Chanty, you can try it out for free. Limit your communication channels as much as possible. Also, make it clear. If your co-workers are not sitting next to you, it can get confusing without that clear communication.
However, it’s good to socialize with your co-workers even if it’s online. It’s a lot easier to ask questions to people you know, than people you don’t right? So get to know them if you haven’t already, or if you have, try to stay in touch.
Try to have virtual hangouts or do some online courses together, or an online yoga perhaps? Anyways, you know what I mean. It sounds like you are escaping work, but trust me, there is a greater purpose here. We are bonding and having fun. We are not robots after all.
Working from home with children playing in the background is the new normal. Just invest in some good headphones. Getting a headset with a noise-cancelling microphone and mute button is helpful to block out children and dogs barking, lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners, during calls.
Be nice to yourself. This has been a hard time for everyone, and we don’t expect to be perfect at handling the situation. Take one step at a time and find your own balance. Try some of these tips, but also create your own that will work for you.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. What has worked for you? Have you tried implementing some of these ideas?