An unexpected COVID-19 pandemic has led to a global rollout of working from home for a long time and some may be for now too, whether it’s out of personal choices or out of no choices.
Although this may be no different for those who’ve already been used to remote work, like some freelancers. However, for those newcomers to this, like myself, it could be a complete disaster. Not just the change of workplace, it’s the change of everything: work schedules, collaborative methods, work environment, and more importantly, the state of mind. Staying at home naturally makes me feel like doing nothing but binge-watching Netflix.
I know some of you might experience the same as me. Some others may likewise be struggling with the smell of bread floating up from the kitchen, or unexpected shouts from their kids/parents, while at work.
To prevent such things from sabotaging our productivity of working from home, here in the following is what I did in this long combat. These 5 tips so far have made my working-from-home days more productive, organized, and enjoyable!
Create an undisturbed work-only space
This space does not have to be large or fancy. Instead, it could be a kitchen corner less traveled by people you live with, a table behind your bedroom door, or a cleaned-up space in storage/garage. Of course, it could be better if it’s by the window, because who doesn’t like a sunbath while working at home?
Why a separate area for work essential?
- Physically, a relatively quiet place helps prevent distractions from others.
- Mentally, it reminds you that when walking into this area, what you do is only work-related.
Dress up in your usual smart look
I know some would say this is unnecessary, but for someone like me who can never work efficiently in pajamas or oversize T-shirts, then dressing yourself up in the usual way before starting work in the morning will be a good way to quickly get you ready for the shift to a work mode. But make sure it’s not too much, otherwise, your mum may think you’re going on the T-stage live stream (or it’s just my mum).
Make a simple to-do list
This might be the most efficient way for me to plan my work and batch different tasks. These lists may be about a recent project, a customer list, a self-learning plan, or anything.
Try breaking down a long-run goal in your list into more doable small tasks and link them together if necessary. This is to mitigate the difficulty of execution and better activate your motivation. Find more about how to use Subtask to break down a complex task in TickTick!
- Create different folders to collect the lists and remember to mark tasks as completed.
It’s a huge satisfaction and encouragement being able to see how much progress I’ve made daily or periodically. Yes, even though this encouragement is not from a real person, still, it makes life sweeter.
- Share your lists/tasks with colleagues If necessary.
In this way, they can co-work, edit and comment on your tasks, when it comes to team collaboration.
- At the same time, don’t forget to create lists for family.
By separating tasks at work from life, housework or your kids’ homework can also be carefully dealt with.
Schedule your day properly
I always make my daily and weekly schedules according to the priority and set up reminders on what’s important in case I forgot. That not only tells me what to do at what time but also helps me review and reflect on what has been done for further improvement.
But also remember: not just including work tasks in schedules, regular breaks deserve a place. For example, even just a 10-minute coffee break ☕️ or a 30-minute nap, can clear your mind for a while and help you recharge and bounce back to work more efficiently.
Stay focused, focused, and focused
To stay focused is probably the biggest challenge for me when working from home, first because I’m not an easy-to-stay-concentrated person, and then is all the temptations at home: Phone/iPad/Switch, and also the largest one, my dog. Can hardly say no to his fluffy face begging for playing toss n’ fetch. 🤷♀️
Here are the methods I‘ve tried:
- Putting all electronic gadgets 300,000… meters away.
- Drinking coffee nonstop.
- Harshly refusing my dog’s game-playing invitation.
However, none of these seem to work well. Now, what’s instead?
- The Pomodoro Technique ( what is Pomo? 🍅)
Working for 25 minutes and then resting for 5 minutes. The cycle of Pomodoro enable me to arrange my time wisely: Making the best use of limited focused hours of a day by striking a good balance between work and relaxation. Quick-start with Pomo Timer in TickTick!
- White Noises
White noises in another way simply ease my nerves and clear other sounds around, putting me in a mood to only pay attention to what I do (Tried ASMR tho, just not my thing, but maybe yours).
- A delayed gratification strategy
A delayed gratification strategy here in general is work first, enjoy later. Work harder to get a bigger reward. For example, refusing my dog’s request for now, but if I finish a task on time, then go to play with him for 15 minutes. If less than the scheduled time, then 20 minutes. Likewise, treating myself with one-hour fun time for playing Animal Cross if I’ve completed more than 90% of my scheduled work for today. 2 hours if over-completed. When the rewards are delayed, you would be more willing to invest in getting the rewards.
Talking through above all my experience of staying productive while working from home, try these to see if they also work for you to go through this tough period of working remotely. Moreover, if working from home isn’t just for now and is going to become one of the main work patterns in the future, then isn’t it good to practice and adapt in advance to prepare yourself for another option?