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How to stay productive while working from home

Jun 1, 2020

Working from home. Love it or hate, for most of us, it is our new standard as the COVID-19 pandemic forces more of us to work from the kitchen table or living room.

While many of us have hit our stride by now, many would have struggled to get used to working from home in the beginning. We all had to adapt very quickly, setting our workspaces up to be safe and effective, while also making sure our productivity and motivation did not go down.

Programmed Professionals Recruitment Consultant Piyush Joseph has been working from home since mid-March and shared his experience transitioning to working from home and tips for maintaining focus and high productivity:

Getting basics right

The rush to local office equipment stores showed that a lot of us were caught off guard in needing to have a good office set-up at home very quickly.

I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and did not have a home office set-up. I converted my dining table to a working desk, so my wife was working from one side and I was on the other. It was a makeshift arrangement and did not work well for us. I ended up investing in two desks for the home and rearranged my living room space to accommodate two separate working areas. Now I can sit comfortably and work happily alongside my new co-worker, my wife.  

Take the time to set your workspace up so that it is comfortable, as ergonomic as possible and free from as much distraction as you can manage. Safe Work Australia have collated numerous resources about maintaining a safe working from home environment, including a working from home checklist.

Stay mentally healthy through connection

Like others, I have found this pandemic to be one of the more stressful events that I have faced. When we go through a difficult time, we often seek company and protection with family and friends, but this has been more difficult as we had to maintain distance. This meant that we have been more isolated than ever, and coping has been quite tough.

However, humans have one great attribute that has allowed us to thrive in the world; we adapt to survive.

So that’s what my co-workers and I have done. We have stayed connected through skype, zoom, and regular phone calls to keep in touch with each other to keep that human connection alive.

Make sure to connect with your colleagues at least daily, or every second day. Not only does it help your team stay on top of what everyone is working on and share wins or learnings, but it’s also a good welfare check for yourself and team to see/hear each other’s smiling faces/voices.

Avoid bad habits

When working from home in the early days, I fell into the trap of not taking enough breaks, finishing work when you should and poor sleep patterns. It is critical to look after your mental health by maintaining a healthy routine as if you were going to the office.

Learn to take breaks: short, regular breaks are better than long, occasional ones. If you find yourself stuck to your desk, set a kitchen timer for 20-25 minutes and when it goes off, get up, do a quick stretch/walk for 3-5 mins and then get back to it.

Stay focused

It is easy to lose focus when working from home for an extended period. I began to feel strained working from home for long durations, with interruptions from pets and my wife.

Make sure to check start each day by reviewing your priority task list and have an idea of what you want to achieve each day. This will help you exercise greater discipline and focus.

Keep communicating

Since you’re out of sight, but it doesn’t mean you are out of mind for your boss. Working from home meant that communication with my boss and co-workers became more critical and more frequent.

Maintaining clear and frequent lines of communication about what you are working on and what you have achieved, will give your Manager a greater level of comfort that the team is achieving what they need to. It will also help you stay focused on the right tasks.

Monitor your social media use

Often hard to escape, but it’s good practice to monitor how much you are tuning into the news or reading social media posts. Especially now, it’s not helpful for your mental health or your productivity to continually be exposed to constant news updates or thousands of other opinions.

Try to limit your usage during business hours or set aside 10-20mins each day to go through the news headlines and then give them a rest for the rest of the day.

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