COVID 19 has changed the way we work. Working from home has now become a necessity. In trying to keep the pandemic from spreading any further and reduce the numbers of people getting sick, quarantined, or caring for loved ones, we’ve had to look at ways to send our employees home and trust that business targets continue to be met.
Establishing a work-from-home routine isn’t simple – especially when you have no time to waste. When done right, however, employees and business owners working from home can stay just as engaged and productive as they would in an office space.
I’ve put together a list of 7 practices applicable to anyone working from home, no matter what role or industry they may be, so you can all stay safe – and productive – while the virus takes its course. Please note that these are self-leadership practices to help you stay ultra-productive, on an individual basis. I will cover strategies to help virtual teams at a later stage. Here they are:
- Set your schedule for next day before going to bed. That’s right. Your performance next day will be impacted by how you organise it the previous evening. Look at your calendar, your must-dos, and everything else you’d like to fit in to make it a productive day. Plan for it and schedule it in your calendar, so you can follow your way to success the next day.
- Set a daily routine. If you sort of wonder out of bed at different times and don’t follow a particular routine, you’ll be wasting a lot of precious time and dedicated focus to propel you forward in what needs to be done. Sticking to a daily routine will help us to be more efficient, create structure in our lives, make us feel more in control, help us save time – our most valuable resource – and reduce procrastination and bad habits.
- Select a dedicated space. Just because you are working from home, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a dedicated workspace or office. Create a clean, organised, calming and inspiring home office environment, which can help you get into the right mindset and prevent you from distractions. I have created a working desk to do my content work, that I’ve decorated with quotes and visuals that help me stay focused and inspired, and a sitting area for me to conduct my clients’ calls and connect via phone of email with others.
- Schedule breaks during the day. Every 40-60 min, stand up and stretch, walk around, go drink some water, interact with people at home or make a quick call to interact with others and maintain a sense of connection. Just as you schedule meetings and tasks in your calendar, you must also schedule breaks to refocus and recharge. This is not the time to go on social media and lose track of time. These are intentional breaks to help you maintain a sense of balance and self-care during your day, so you allow time to eat, rest and connect with loved ones.
- Get into the habit of working early in the morning. My morning routine goes something like this: wake up – set my intention for the day – do some deep breathing (1 min) – make my bed, do some light yoga / exercise, shower, breakfast, work by 8am. Add to that my plan of action from the previous evening and I am ready to tackle my day with clarity and motivation. Habits will help you create effortless efficiency. Give it a try for yourself, stick with it until it becomes automated, and watch your productivity soar.
- Set specific work hours. If your home is your permanent office, at least for a while, then set specific work hours. If your work and company allow it, you can choose your own flexible working hours for yourself. Let’s say if you feel more productive in the morning and not in the late evening, then you can set your work hours from 7am to 3pm. Don’t forget to share your work schedule with your colleagues or boss. Having set times will help you get more done during your day, rather than just continuing to work longer hours with no end in sight. The brain works very well by assigning it pre-determined tasks within a specific period of time – that’s why deadlines work!
- Put yourself high on the “to-do” list. At the end of the day, no matter how many productivity tips I share with you, if you are not looking after yourself, you are going to lack the motivation, energy and focus that you need to help you create the right priorities in place. All of the above requires you to do some intentional work, possibly outside of your normal routine, and changes require energy and focus from you, otherwise your brain will find ways to trick you into quitting trying to change how things are. Later on, I will dedicate a full resource on how to take a proactive approach to taking care of your health, but I bet you already know most of it, only now it is time to really do something about it. You’ve heard it all before, eat healthy, clean food, stay hydrated, sleep well, take rests during the day, exercise, and do some kind of practice to help you keep your mental and emotional states in check. These are all very important ways to help you stay positive, optimistic and productive at a time of crisis and change like this.
I could go on. When it comes to ways to continue to improve performance, the possibilities are endless. Put into practice the ones you need to build into your day working from home now, and watch your effectiveness and efficiency improve dramatically.
What’s your favourite productivity practice and why? Please share the ones you found work best for you. At times like these, we all need to lean in together and share best practices.
Stay safe everyone, let’s do our best!