8 Productivity Tips for Lockdown
Staying productive when working at home
We’ve now reached week 8. Or 7. Or is it 9? For many of us, it is probably starting to feel like a long time since the last time we left our home in the morning to venture into the office for the day.
If you have been able to work from home over the past couple of months, this is likely to have been a major adjustment for both your working and personal life. There are likely to have been good days and bad days during that time, some days where you didn’t feel productive and hopefully some days that have provided you with the sense of achievement that helps to keep us all motivated.
While we have all been on different journeys over the past few weeks, the one thing we all have in common is that we have certainly all been on one.
With it still being unclear how the ‘new normal’ will look for us all, it is likely most of us will continue to work remotely or work from home for at least some of the time long into the future. Staying productive while working from home during times of uncertainty can be challenging. To help, we’ve detailed some tips below to try to support you to continue to stay productive while working from home:
1 - Get into a routine
Having a clear routine can not only help us to be more productive, but also support us to cope with change, to form healthy habits and to manage our stress levels.
Building a daily routine that enables you to eat healthily, do your daily exercise, have some down-time and connect with friends and family can help you to stay productive while working.
2 - Be active
Being physically active can help us to increase our productivity at work. On top of the health benefits of regular exercise, it can help you to feel more alert, more aware and support you to feel ready to tackle your task list.
Try to build in enough time for exercise within your daily routine. When you do exercise, go outside if you can or complete it in a room or space away from your workspace. Exercise time is your time and it is important to have clear separation from your work so that you can focus upon yourself and refresh your mind.
3 - Have a dedicated work space
Try to allocate a specific room or area of where you live to do your work. Allocating your workspace in this way will help you to concentrate and also help you to be able to relax and unwind once you have finished work. If you live with other people, doing this will also help stop your work life intruding upon them.
Make sure your workspace is clean and tidy and try to treat it like you would your desk in the office. If you’re anything like me, by the end of the day the desk or table is covered in pens, paper, coffee mugs and empty bowls and plates from breakfast and lunch. Cleaning and tidying your workspace at the end of the day ready for the next day will mean you can get started straight away in the morning in an organised environment.
4 - Take regular breaks
Particularly in our current lockdown situation, it can be easy to fall into the routine of sitting at your desk all day working without taking regular breaks. In the office, you would take time away from your screen to have a meeting, grab some water or make a coffee/tea round. At home, make sure you schedule regular breaks into your daily routine to take time away from your computer. Even if you can’t go outside, take a break from your computer by making a drink, calling a friend or family member or making yourself a healthy snack. Working for long stretches without taking breaks can heighten stress and anxiety. Taking a few minutes away can refresh your mind, help you to be creative and increase your overall productivity.
5 - Prioritise your workload
A major change in your work environment and routine can also easily lead to you changing the way that you work. You may work in a company where members of your team have been placed on furlough, increasing your personal workload. You may feel you need to prove to your manager that you can be productive working from home. Or you may feel that you have less direction on what work you should be focussing on.
These types of situations can lead to you feeling overwhelmed and trying to tackle all of your tasks at once.
Build time into your schedule to write yourself a to-do list and prioritise which tasks need to be completed first. Consider the urgency of the items on your list and the impact to you and the business of them not being done. Try to be disciplined and work according to your priority list. If a new piece of work comes your way that disrupts this, try not to get stressed. Take a few minutes to review your to do list and their priority and go again.
6 - Use technology to collaborate
Working collaboratively with your colleagues both within your team and outside of your team is vital to being productive at work. Without daily face to face contact, it can be easy to start working in isolation or relying upon emails to communicate with them. This can potentially lead to delays in your own projects where you are dependent upon others, or lead to you completing tasks without conducting the stakeholder engagement required.
Different businesses will have different solutions in place, however, it is likely the company you work for will have some communications tools available. They may include tools for video calls/conferencing (e.g. Zoom, WebEx or Microsoft Teams), instant messenger or shared online workspaces. Whatever tools you have in place, make sure you use them to their full potential to continue to work in collaboration with others. If all else fails, pick up the phone and have a traditional phone call! Not only will connecting with others help you feel less isolated, it will also help you to stay productive and tick things off your to-do list.
7 - Try to stay positive
Your attitude and perspective on your work can have a significant impact upon your productivity levels. Try not to let your confined working situation dampen your creative spirit. Use the time you have working at home to reflect upon your work, think of new ways of doing things and set yourself new goals and challenges. There may be items on your to-do list that you have meant to get to for a while. A change in your working environment may lead you to be able to view these items from a new angle or perspective and help you to develop creative solutions to tasks or problems.
8 - Be kind to yourself
Above all, in these uncertain and worrying times be kind to yourself. We are all going through unprecedented times at the moment and it is bound to have an impact upon us personally. If you have a bad day or an unproductive day, try not to dwell on it and let it get you down. Take the time you need to recharge after work and get yourself ready for the next day. As they say, “everyday is a new day” and each day brings its own possibilities and opportunities.