How to Maintain Productivity in the Midst of Uncertainty
Published on Apr 6, 2020. Updated on Aug 30, 2023.
Osmosis Health Coach Ishan Dahal shares 7 tips on keeping your productivity levels high during social isolation.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, companies, organizations, and even educational institutions have had to go fully remote, as working in an office or traveling can increase the likelihood of viral exposure. Different authorities are taking different approaches to neutralize the outbreak. Social distancing and social isolation is starting to be the norm and is our best chance at containing the spread.
Though not all jobs are feasible for remote work, many roles can perform their responsibilities remotely. Switching from an office to a work-at-home situation can be challenging for many people. Turning the sacred space of your home into an office can be nerve-wrecking and hard on the family—home is supposed to be a place where you can relax. And if you have little ones running around the house all day, working or studying from home can quickly turn into a nightmare.
As society navigates the impact of COVID-19, we don’t have the luxury of looking back on history—there are no examples of how remote work was successful during the Spanish Flu or the Black Plague. We are writing the playbook for how to remain productive in the face of economic and social uncertainty. As the global workforce changes to accommodate this pandemic and the line between home and work becomes blurred, there are several things to consider. If you’ve found yourself in a new work-or-learn-at-home situation, read on for seven important things to consider while adjusting to remote life.
Tip #1 - Communication is key
Make sure means of communication are properly established. This is one of the most important things that can make the difference between effortless remote work and impaired communication that adds more work to your work! Applications like Slack, Zoom, and Google Hangouts are great for conducting regular get-togethers and maintaining open lines of communication. This way, everyone is kept up to speed on what they need to know, and ideas are able to flow back and forth easily. Nothing is scarier than being in the dark when important work needs to be done. Communicating properly with family or roommates about the new norm is also extremely important to minimize interruptions.
Tip #2 - Create your own customized workspace
It's uncertain how long this period of isolation will last. During this time, creating a comfortable, clearly-defined workspace is important. Turn it into a cool DIY project: pick the technology, appliances and color combinations that put you in the best frame of mind. Being in the office that YOU created, just the way you like it, will put you in a great frame of mind to take on the day.
Tip #3 - Establish boundaries
It's helpful to have a designated space for work. If you live with family members or roommates, make sure to clearly communicate your working hours so they know not to disturb you. Interference can be distracting and reduce the deep focus needed for productive study or work sessions. Being able to "close the door" on your workspace will help you disconnect from work more easily, too.
Tip #4 - Create a schedule
A good way to ease the transition to remote work is to maintain the schedule that you had back in those halcyon days when we were all allowed to go outside. Without a dedicated schedule, you'll find you quickly lose momentum. An added bonus to having a clearly-defined schedule is the ease of communication with others who may be following similar work hours. You can coordinate that by communicating your schedule with your teammates. Also, make sure you have a time on your schedule that indicates when you get off work—this will benefit yourself and anyone you're working with. Also, consider turning off notifications from work applications during non-work hours. Unplugging is difficult at the best of times, let alone when we're stuck inside, so please make an effort to do this!
Tip #5 - Schedule frequent breaks
Working from home can be a wonderful thing. However, it's much easier to find yourself working round the clock at home, especially if you're a driven person. The ubiquitous nature of technology makes it incredibly easy to be available all the time. This can take a toll on your mental well-being, not to mention put strain on your relationships—so creating a work schedule is important, first and foremost. You should also consider taking frequent breaks. This can be getting up from your workspace every 50 mins to stretch, going out for a stroll around the park, taking the time to make lunch, etc. A good way way to ensure you take those necessary breaks is to make sure to schedule them into your calendar.
Tip #6 - Minimize or remove distractions
Turn off the apps competing for your mental energy so you can stay focused. Even though you might not have anyone looking over your shoulder, if you're not careful, alerts from non-essential applications will become very distracting. With a little bit of planning you can completely eliminate these distractions. Designate time on your schedule to catch up on news, social media, and other notifications. This way, you can still work or study effectively while remaining informed.
Tip #7 - Get dressed for work.
You might be thinking, “I'm never taking these sweatpants off! Why should I get dressed if I am going to be working from home?” Remember, your mind is great at learning by association; this is one of the reasons why non-sleep related activities are discouraged in bed. If your brains associates non-sleep related activities with being in bed, it can impair your ability to fall asleep and decrease your quality of sleep.
Similarly starting off your work day wearing clothes that aren't "work clothes" can interfere with how you feel about work and skew our productive instincts negatively. Just think about it: when was the last time you wear wearing a suit and thought, "I'm fired up! I need to hit the gym right now!" Never, right? Dress for the occasion, even if no one's watching.
I hope you found these work-from-home tips helpful. Remember, at the end of the day, your health is more important than anything. If you're struggling to deal with work, studying, or simply the stress that comes with living during a global pandemic, it's okay to take a day off! There's never been a more important time to practice self-care.
Ishan Dahal is the Osmosis health and wellness coach. When he's not working out with his Osmosis teammates or brushing up on health and wellness literature, he's spending time with his family (via video chat!), going on long, solo walks with an audio-book, or contemplating what vegetables will he get next week.
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