Are you tired of being “stuck at home?” Has working from home lost its novelty? Are you missing your colleagues and craving a return to normal? You’re not alone. It’s now been six months since the first case of COVID-19 was reported. Life has changed for many of us as we try to do our part in slowing down the spread of the virus. Many companies have become more flexible in allowing their employees to work from home. Many people have started wearing masks in public, and some cities are mandating their use in indoor public spaces. And many of us are tired of living life in quarantine. But the pandemic is not over, and caution is still necessary. If your company has allowed you to work from home, and you are now feeling so tired of isolation that productivity has gone downhill, this post is for you. Here’s how to improve productivity during the pandemic and keep delivering your best work.
Whether you’re a freelancer or an employee working from home, distractions can be plentiful. The dreariness of having no end to the pandemic in sight is probably getting to you, and sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to actually get work done. If this is you, here are some tips.
1. How to Improve Productivity During the Pandemic: Pretend You’re in the Office
Whether you’re a freelancer or an employee, this tip will help you improve productivity. Have you been doing quarantine in pajamas? That’s perfectly OK. When no one sees what kind of pants you’re wearing, why bother putting on good ones? But after a while, wearing your pajamas while working can make you feel a little too comfortable. If it’s been a while since you’ve worn proper work clothes, change out of those pajamas and pretend you’re going out to an actual meeting. It’s amazing the difference this small change can make. You’ll probably feel more productive, and by feeling this way, you’ll act it as well.
Have you been working on your bed? Go back to your desk, sit up nice and tall, and pretend you’re in the office. No desk at your place? Go to the table. By sitting as you sit in your actual office, you’ll not only improve your posture, you’ll likely feel more awake and ready to take on the more difficult work tasks you’ve been putting off.
2. How to Improve Productivity During the Pandemic: Keep a schedule
If you’re a freelancer or if you’re an employee for a company that doesn’t insist on regular schedules, keep one anyway. By setting aside work hours, putting them on your calendar, and keeping true to them, you’ll know exactly how much time you have to get your work done. If sitting at a desk from 9-5 while working from home seems too difficult, remember that you can use things like the pomodoro technique to break up your time into productive chunks and scheduled breaks. Do make sure you take breaks.
3. Take a break
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, taking regular breaks will keep you more productive. After a while of working on the same task, especially if what you do is repetitive work, you can develop tunnel vision, go through the motions, and make expensive mistakes. So make sure you take regular breaks. You can use the pomodoro technique mentioned above, or simply schedule regular breaks during your work day. Make sure you decide ahead of time how long your break will be, so that you’ll come back to your work refreshed and on time. If the pandemic and quarantine has you feeling lonely, you can use one of your breaks to call someone.
4. Connect with people
One of the most difficult things about working from home when you have no other option is that it’s not as easy to connect with people. When you’re working in an office, people are all around you, and a coffee break to hang out and let out some steam may be just around the corner. When you’re working from home, you have to make a bigger effort to connect with people. The good news is that there are a plethora of options for connecting online now, and you can even do it “face to face.” It’s not the same as having someone physically in the space with you, but it’s the next best thing. Put it on your schedule to connect with colleagues, friends, and family. It helps to keep a list of the people you want to contact and the things you need to do.
5. Write a list
Before you start working for the day, or preferably the night before, write down a list of 1-5 tasks that you absolutely must get done during your work day. Then, decide on the most important task for your day, and do that before anything else. Don’t check emails or engage in other activities until that most important task has been completed. Writing a list and getting stuff done isn’t quite enough, though. You also need to evaluate that list when the day is done.
6. Review your day
At the end of the day, check in with how your day went. Review that list you created. Did you complete all the tasks on it? If not, review what you could have changed during your work day to get those things done. Then make a plan for how you’ll implement those changes tomorrow. Did you complete all the tasks on your list? Give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate!
7. Reward Yourself
It’s important to celebrate your accomplishments. Choose something you enjoy and reward yourself for a job well done. For example, if you play video games, reward yourself by playing for a pre-determined number of minutes. If you enjoy movies and you have the time, reward yourself by watching a film you like. If there’s a hobby you’ve been meaning to pick up, reward yourself with time to work with that hobby. Use an app if it helps you keep track of how you use rewards. And keep track of how you use your time, so you know when to reward yourself, too.
8. Keep track of your work and your time
Time tracking can be extremely helpful for two reasons: firstly, you’ll be able to see how much time you’re spending on each task, which will help you figure out how to increase productivity. Secondly, it’ll tell you whether you’re getting paid enough for the work you put in. This is as important to employees as it is to freelancers working on retainer. Tracking your time doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many easy to use, free time tracking options available. Try this one, track your time for a week, and let us know what changes you notice in your productivity.
While we’re all tired of the quarantine and ready to resume life as usual, it may be some time before that’s a possibility. For now, let’s focus on connecting with loved ones, getting our work done, and doing our part to stop the spread of the virus.
Author: Mariana Abeid-McDougall is a multi-niche writer and editor. Her writing appears across the web, where she muses about life, parenting, freelancing, and more. Writing and travel are her passions, and she’ll tell you all about them at www.marianamcdougall.com.