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Productivity never happens by accident. It takes a concerted effort on your part to reach that finish line in fine fettle. But with so many of us working from home as a result of COVID, the measures of productivity have blurred. The research on improved productivity with remote work is well documented, but how we stay productive has changed. There are a host of new conditions that can throw you off your axis – makeshift office spaces, the omnipresence of family and housemates, even a daily news bulletin in 2020 can halt you in your tracks!
However, with the right scaffolding in place, you can consistently hit that productive stride. Action these tricks and watch your day transform from pointless to profitable.
Get into the groove
Routines! They are the most important habit to adopt. Work and life are colliding in ways that we have never seen before. According to Business News Daily, 29% of employees are struggling to acclimatise to this new normal. And while sitting in bed, swaddled in a duvet with a laptop perched on your knees may seem like a luxurious, laissez-faire means of working, it is so deleterious to productivity. It’s easy to become relaxed when there is no habit of getting up, getting ready and leaving by a certain time. Now that’s not to say that working 9-5 is what makes you productive, but find a healthy routine that suits your way of working. And stick to it. Become accustomed to the pattern and it’ll be easier for your brain to engage.
Look over there
Distractions are the devil for remote workers. We all remember this video. Hilarious and adorable, it still illustrates how easy it is to get disturbed when working from home. It was the pinnacle of bad timing. But how do you go about ensuring that distractions are kept to a minimum? First, designate a dedicated office space. Create boundaries and if there are other people in your home, come to a compromise about how the space can work. Try to create a stress-free zone with minimum traffic so you can stay focused and productive. Harvard researchers say we are lost in thought 47% of the time, so don’t exacerbate this by falling for temptation. It can be tough, but endeavour to minimise distraction during your office hours.
Scheduling can be an absolute nightmare. We all wish we had extra hours in the day so we could get through our endless to-do lists. But efficiency does not lie in the amount of time we have, but rather in how we use it. Parkinson’s Law states that work will expand exponentially to fill allotted time. So cut this off at the source and block your time accordingly. Write your list and fit these tasks into your day. And be realistic about this. It’s so easy to let the working day bleed into your home life. Even block off some regular breaks. It is reported that we are 37% more productive when we take breaks. There’s nothing wrong experimenting with different forms of time management either. What worked in the office may not work now, so keep this in mind.
Burning out will not help you be productive. It’s so important, even in the midst of planning routines and managing time, to keep tabs on yourself. Durham University’s Dr. Thuy-vy Nguyen believes that the psychological effects of working remotely for extended periods is often overlooked. So do small things to bring some calm and perspective to your day. Whether that’s some meditation or mindfulness techniques, getting some fresh air or connecting with colleagues for a chat, make sure you keep an eye on your mental well-being. And this extends to the “I just need to send this one thing” mindset. Adhere to your finishing times when possible. Mute your notifications. And get out of sight of your desk. Productivity will not flourish if you are constrained.
LinkedIn have reported that 91% of HR professionals can attest that remote working has resulted in employees seeming more engaged and satisfied. But it’s a whole new ball game and it looks like we’re going into extra innings. So take note of the above in order to maintain these productivity levels, especially when work-from-home becomes your status quo.