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With everyone required to stay indoors during quarantine, you’re probably one of the many that have been asked to work remotely. It sounds like a lot of fun on paper until you’re in it and have experienced the drudgeries that your contemporaries have always told you about.
You probably had to make a lot of adjustments to this new setup. If you’re struggling with keeping focused during this time, here are tips to help you stay mentally strong.
Follow a schedule
When you have all day to do work, it can be easy to procrastinate on your most important tasks. This is a challenge work-from-home folks often face. You can prevent that by maintaining a routine. That’s right. Keep the same routine as you did when you were working in the office.
Follow your usual morning habits and then get to work around the same hours. Try not to go beyond work hours. Don’t forget to take breaks of course. The goal is to have a set time that you dedicate to just work. This allows you to put your mental energy to good use. Once you’re done, you can spend the rest of the day however you like.
Set Up A Productivity Management Board
When you are in the office, it’s easy to get lost in your work for hours at a time. But at home, things run… a little different. There are constant distractions, whether it’s your family asking you for favors, or your favorite series on Netflix calling your name.
It’s not easy to ignore these temptations.
I personally found that one of the best ways to approach a healthy, yet productive day is to have a work priority board using something like Trello or Asana. You can structure your day according to important tasks, rest break times to spend with the family.
Not only will this help keep your mind in check, but also keep your day productive and organized so you can still clock out after hours and spend time with your loved ones.
Remember To Take Breaks (Your Body Needs It)
As awesome as it would be to be able to pull out 10-hour work shifts without stopping, it’s not sustainable, healthy, or recommended. It’s important to give your brain and body a break from work.
But, of course, you can’t spend 10 hours on break and two hours working. So, how do you find a work-life balance?
A technique I use frequently is called the Pomodoro technique. The aim of this technique is to set up an efficiency competition for yourself, ran by yourself. The idea is to work in 25-minute shifts. Which scientifically is the long period of time a brain can function at 100%.
After the 25-minute work shift, you can take a 5-minute break, during this time you can play on your phone, walk around, and visit the men’s/ladies’ room. But during the 25-minute work shift, your phone should be on silent and all distractions muted.
This creates a zone of hyperfocus and ensures that by the end of the day, you are happy to call it a day and spend time with your loved ones. As a team leader, you can also incorporate this routine into your co-workers’ lives to help them keep a stable yet productive mindset.
Assign a workspace
Have a designated area for your work at home. For example, all office work should only be done at your work desk. Try to avoid doing work-related stuff in other areas of your home like the bed or kitchen. You want these areas to serve a separate purpose whether it’s to relax or spend time with family.
Don’t Forget To Exercise
When I first read about exercising and productivity relating to each other, I won’t lie, it was nerve-wracking. A geek like me, benching iron for 3-hours a day… it wasn’t something I could imagine.
The good news is that’s far from what we are suggesting.
However, when it comes to productivity and mental focus, exercising is probably one of the best investments you can make. Not only does it help release endorphins into your body (a chemical responsible for happiness), but it also gets the blood pumping more oxygen through your body, helping you think sharper and feel healthier.
At the end of the day, a good 20-minute exercise in the morning that gets your heart beating a tad bit faster is all you need. Here are a couple of good beginner exercises you can try out – there are also plenty of Android and IOS mobile apps you can try.
Keep in touch with coworkers
It can be easy to feel cut off from your coworkers now that you are not physically around each other. To avoid this, keep your communication lines open. This can mean having a quick 15-minute call with everyone at the beginning of the workday. You can also stay in touch through instant messaging, community threads, and group chats.
This is especially important if you’re a manager. You want your employees to know productivity is still important. Your employee might also have some specific questions that need to be answered before they dive into a certain task. You can set expectations during this time and let yourself be open in case they have any questions.
Sometimes, the questions might not even be work-related but personal. Everyone is affected by this pandemic. This means that one of your coworkers could be living with a frontliner. If the worst happens and they acquire the virus, you can help them file for short-term disability. It may be work as usual for the company, but during this difficult time, compassion is really important.
Trust — Don’t Micromanage
It can be tempting to frequently check in on your employees. However, this can be detrimental to their productivity –and yours too! They might feel like you don’t trust them to do their job. Meanwhile, you’re wasting precious time micromanaging them when you could be performing bigger tasks.
You can avoid this by outlining your expectations from the very beginning. Set some guidelines on how you’ll track productivity, whether it’s using a task-management platform or maintaining an activity log. When you have this in place, you can trust your employees to perform their responsibilities while you focus on more important matters.
For some of us, getting into work mode means wearing our office attire — even at home! If you struggle to get into the mental space to work, you may just need to do the same. The change in clothing helps signal that you are working. It’ll also help you look professional during video calls. Once you’re done, just change into your house clothes.
Studies show that your appearance can significantly impact your mindset; through this your productivity. So, if you want to have a productive day, make sure you look good and feel good about yourself!
Whatever you do to help your mental health will help your leadership skills and your mental focus while working at home for long periods of time. Now is a great time to invest in yourself so you can invest in others that follow your leadership.
Which of these tips did you find the most helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments below.