A lot of us are struggling to work from home effectively during lockdown.
It is really difficult to find an effective work-life balance; one where we are getting tasks ticked off our lists, whilst not overworking.
But whether you’re reading this during lockdown or you regularly work from home (or you’re just looking for general tips to be more productive!), here are my top tips for being productive whilst working from home.
Set a routine
It’s extremely difficult to stay motivated when your days are all over the place.
Having some sort of set structure will allow you to work more efficiently, and spend less time wondering what you should be doing.
If you normally work a 9-5, try to work for those same hours (instead of, say, waking up later and leaving your work to the evening). Similarly, if you’re studying, block out consistent times for you to work instead of swapping around each day.
And there’s more to a routine that just when you’re working:
- Set up a specific space (ideally a desk/ table) as a workspace. It’s so important to separate work space from relax space (this is why it’s maybe not a good idea to work in bed!).
- Have a regular lunch break (and other breaks)- try to use this to get away from screens if possible.
- Work in the same conditions.
Get ready every day
A habit take a while to form, so it may be difficult at first to stick to your set schedule.
An easy way to help is to take the time to get ready each day. Whether this looks like having a shower, getting dressed, even putting on makeup, getting yourself ready in some form will go a long way towards mentally preparing you for a work day.
Make to do lists
I make a lot of to-do lists. A weekly to-do list, a daily to-do list (sometimes hourly), and there are usually at least a dozen more stuck to my wall or flying around my desk.
Yes, my memory is shocking, but to-do lists serve more than just to help you remember things. Writing a clear list of tasks will 1. Help you avoid feeling completely overwhelmed, especially at the start of the week and 2. Allow you to prioritize those tasks that need to be completed first.
And speaking of…
Tackle the big tasks first
It’s the oldest trick in the book, because it works!
That task that you’ve been putting off for weeks is only going to keep building up and weighing on your mind. Don’t let it get to that point!
Choose the largest task from your to-do list to complete each morning- I promise you, future you will thank me.
But what about the smaller tasks?
Instead of ticking them off throughout the day (and therefore breaking up more important tasks), take an hour to get as many of them done as possible. By getting them all out the way at once, you’ll be able to maintain concentration on the bigger tasks.
Time management is a tricky skill to maintain, and it is very much a mental game. Often we speed up or pull out a task depending on how much time we allow ourselves to finish it.
If you know you tend to spend too long on certain tasks, set yourself a timer, maybe 30 minutes or an hour and tell yourself you have that long to complete it.
Timers can also be a great tool for when your struggling to get started. Remember that big project you’re going to tackle first thing (that feels really overwhelming)? Set a 10-minute timer; if you still don’t feel like it at the end, switch tasks. Chances are, you’ll have gotten into it and will want to keep going.
There’s enough distraction working from home without excess noise.
Try some noise-blocking headphones, or even listen to calming music, (preferably without lyrics) if that’s not too distracting.
As well as getting rid of physical distractions, make sure you’re in the right headspace to work/ study each morning. Getting up at the same time and having a set morning routine will help a lot with this, as well as ensuring your workspace is tidy (and ready to go) at the end of each session.
Limit social media time
Have many hours do we waste scrolling every day? I know that I catch myself falling down a social media wormhole a lot more often than I’d like.
To limit temptation, switch your phone (or device) off, or even keep it in a different room.
Remember– it’s not about being perfect. You will spend too much time on social media some days. It’s about learning how to effectively limit distractions as much as possible, so you can work more efficiently.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
These tips are great for if you’re looking to be a bit more productive, accomplish a few more tasks each day, and maybe make better use of your time.
But now more the ever, the emphasis should be on mental health and ensuring you’re looking after yourself properly. Despite what you might see on social media, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break (for an hour or a day or a week). In fact, you should schedule in breaks before you find yourself burning out.
Have grace for yourself and know that everyone deals with working from home differently. You don’t have to be constantly productive.
Are you trying to be a little more productive in lockdown? Or do you just generally want to use your time more wisely? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or you can connect with me directly on any of my social medias.