The coronavirus or “Covid-19” pandemic is disrupting routines and shattering habits. Schools in Europe and North America are now following China’s path by sending students home. Companies around the world are changing their working practices by offering employees the possibility to work remotely or by abruptly shutting down. During this time of crisis, staying efficient is becoming a true challenge. Here are a few tips to not feel like an unproductive lazy human at the end of the day.
First, let’s be clear. Being obsessed with productivity makes you unproductive. Overworking wears out our mental well being. When working from home, as a student or as an employee, it can be tempting to forget about the usual working hours and to pursue meeting objectives from the moment you get up to the moment you go to bed. When in such a familiar setting, like your own house, boundaries need to be set. The most productive days include breaks. A popular method suggests that every hour of work requires a 15 minutes break. The Pomodoro Technique has also proven its quality by helping thousands of freelancers and students manage their time. This method improves focus by working in 25-minute blocks followed by a 5-minute break (it is worth a try). Ultimately, working nonstop will not do you any good. When the evening comes, you should unplug from everything work-related. No more projects, case studies to finish or responding to email. That brain of yours now needs to rest.
For others, the current situation can aspire to a different mentality. It can simply become a challenge to stay productive when stuck at home (I have been there, I know the guilt). Consequently, I found 3 tips to enhance your everyday productivity and eliminate that feeling of a wasted day.
The start of the day is not to be neglected
It is important as Eric Lam, a cross-asset reporter in Hong Kong emphasized to “try to stick to some semblance of your original routine from before you started working from home”. The answer to your question then is no. It is not recommended to sleep in until 10 am neither is staying in your pajamas all day. You need to get ready every morning so your body understands that you are not having a day off. A morning routine will benefit you throughout the day so get up early, shower and eat a healthy breakfast. For the people justifying not eating in the morning due to a lack of time, your excuse is now gone. In addition, dressing up in comfortable clothes, not necessarily suit and tie but once again, not pajamas will signal your brain that it is now game time. Furthermore, on top of being physically and mentally ready, a strong morning routine creates a feeling of accomplishment, a great asset to have a successful day.
Creating an “office environment” is important. It is suggested to set your workspace in a well-lit room with as much natural light as possible. For people using a laptop all day, you may consider adding a mouse to your essential furniture, it will make your life easier. If that workspace is not located in a quiet place (children may very well be at home), canceling noise earbuds are very useful to stay focused. Music, depending on people, can drastically improve productivity as it “activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory,” says Dr. Masha Godkin. It is however recommended to stick to lyricless music to receive its full benefit. Finally, while having a well set up “office environment” is one of the key factors to be efficient; working from the couch or outside in the backward should not be ruled out. A change of scenery may very well help you change perspective and become more creative.
Fight the feeling of isolation
Self-isolation is now becoming a norm around the world to fight the coronavirus. It is essential to maintain a connection with the outside world and to communicate. The importance of communication is clear: texts, phone calls or even video calls are useful to brainstorm and any form of communication is a driving factor for motivation. Needless to say that for students, the social aspect is essential. A controlled and appropriate use of social media to connect with friends is beneficial to fight feelings such as loneliness and sometimes sadness. With more time on your hands, it can be a true opportunity to get in touch with old connections or to make new ones. Open yourself to new projects and do not hesitate to scroll through LinkedIn.
Productivity, the measure of efficiency, is unique and different for everyone. Many bloggers have promised innovative ways to work smarter; techies use spreadsheets to plan every minute of every day and smartphone makers promote their technology as the holy grail of productivity through their simplified processes. Only you can find the right method to maximize your productivity. The current social and economic situation is putting you to the test. Will you succeed or fail?
Sources: washingtonpost.com / bloomberg.com / aib.edu / ncu.edu