By Lauren Dichter, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing
Quarantine isn’t easy, but thanks to technology, some of us can do our jobs from anywhere! If you’re struggling to work from home as productively as you’d like, don’t get down on yourself. Instead, give yourself some grace. And when you’re ready to slay work during this pandemic, check out the 5 tricks below.
- Regardless of your work from home situation, strive to make you workspace conducive.
I’ve lived with my fiancé in a 700 sq. foot, 1-bedroom apartment for a year and a half now, and though we feel grateful to live together in our favorite Seattle neighborhood, the lack of personal space is not ideal for this current situation. Luckily, we at least have a desk that my fiancé sits down to work at, but it’s not big enough for the two of us.
So, I’ve turned our small dining table into my desk. For the first few weeks of working from home, I treated it as if I was working at the dining table. When lunch time rolled around, I’d shove my laptop and papers under to one side of the table so that we had room to eat without getting food on my stuff. Afterwards, I’d set my space back up again, and I’d go through the same process for dinner.
The tables’ multiple purposes were causing me to experience a cognitive dissonance, impacting my ability to focus and be productive. Now, I’ve decided that the dining table is my de facto workspace Monday through Friday, and only becomes a dining table again Friday night through Sunday night. Eating meals at the coffee table instead isn’t great, but it’s part of what’s keeping me productive during the day!
How is your workspace affecting your ability to focus? Is there something you can do differently with it to promote productivity?
- To minimize distraction, de-clutter and keep your home relatively clean (it’s good for preventing the spread of COVID19 too!)
The efficacy of this trick depends on the type of person you are, but in general, clutter = chaos, and chaos is distracting for most people. Over the course of this quarantine, I’ve realized seeing clutter in my surroundings is a huge detriment to my productivity. I mean, I just want to clean it up! Does anyone else get that urge?
Now that we’re spending so much of our time at home, our spaces become messy and dirty way quicker than before. My fiancé and I used to do a deep clean of our apartment every 2-3 weeks, but now, we’ve decided to do it once a week (Sundays). Moreover, I de-clutter my workspace at the end of every workday so that it looks inviting in the morning.
If, like me, you struggle to focus when your surroundings are screaming “Tidy me up!”, take some pointers from the guru herself.
- Do the Pomodoro Method (or your own variation of it) and put your cell phone away during periods of focused work.
The main idea of this method is to work, with absolutely no distractions, for 25 minutes, with a 5-minute break in between each 25-minute chunk of time. At the end of 4 chunks of time, called “Pomodoros”, you’re advised to take a longer, 20-30-minute break. I’m a little less strict with these rules and may work for 40 minutes straight and take a 10-minute break if that’s what feels right.
The idea is to get “in the zone” enough to complete high-priority tasks with attention to detail, in a shorter amount of time than it would normally take you. The alternative is to take twice-as-long to complete the same task with half-as-much attention to detail. Between the two options, the Pomodoro method is the clear winner! So put your phone in another room, shut the door, and get down to business for a quick and quality turnaround on whatever task you’ve been procrastinating.
- Get outside at least once a day and breathe deeply (but keep ya distance of course!)
It’s a proven fact that being in or even just looking at nature promotes health and psychological wellbeing. And of course, we do our best work at our jobs when the rest of our life is in relative balance. As we work from home, we’re just not getting outside as often as we normally would.
We no longer walk to and from our cars or the bus stop before and after work. We also don’t walk to get coffee or lunch with our coworkers anymore. It sounds silly, but these every day, mundane activities outside actually make a big difference on our productivity levels once we’re back in the office.
So get outside, breathe fresh air, look at the natural beauty around you, and harness that relaxing yet invigorating feeling to get you through your next Pomodoro 😉
- Move ya’ body daily!
And when I say “move ya’ body”, I don’t mean work out everyday (though I’m sure that’s what most doctors would recommend). I mean make sure to move at least as much as you would on a normal workday if you were commuting to the office.
One day last week, I had so many meetings and so much work to do in between them that I never made it outside, and never really moved (besides walking to and from the bathroom in our small apartment). I’m not proud of it, but it reinforced the need to be more intentional about my days while in quarantine.
Set aside time each day to either work out, walk somewhere, stretch out, dance, or more. Our bodies crave movement, and if we don’t get it, we become restless at our desks when we’re trying to feel just the opposite; focused and driven. Just a little bit of movement goes a long way for your productivity.
I hope these 5 tricks boost your work-from-home productivity like they have for me. Do you have any additional tips? I’d love to read about them in the comments section below!