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How to be Productive whilst Working from Home

Natasha Bazika

Contributor

Many organisations have asked employees to work from home in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19. For those new to working from home, be prepared, it's going to be an adjustment. However, it might become your new favourite way to work. Here are some tips for being productive when your cat keeps pawing at your keyboard and the new Netflix release is calling.

Establish a morning routine

It’s easy to hit the snooze button and lounge around in your pyjamas all day, but it’s not going to help your productivity. The best thing to do is treat it like any other day. Set an alarm, wake-up, get dressed, have breakfast and go to work.

The benefit of working from home is not having to travel to a place of work, so you can account for that extra time. I like to wake up with a morning yoga session or go for a run. It helps me start the day energised and focused.

Another morning routine could simply be walking out the front door and coming back in. This helps your mind reset and tricks it into thinking it’s an ordinary workday. 

Get organised

While working from the couch or bed sounds like the dream, it’s a detriment to your physical and psychological health. Sitting in a bed or couch for eight hours is bad for your posture and by working in a space designated for rest and sleep, your mind will find it difficult to switch off at night, when it's time to sleep. Instead, set up a space that is designated for work.

It can be the breakfast bar, a separate room that you can turn into a makeshift office, or a table with a supportive chair. If your employer has ordered everyone to work from home, ask if they provide compensation for the workspace. For instance, some companies are providing employees with a desktop monitor and ergonomic chair.

If you’re working from a laptop, then that’s great, but if your budget allows, opt-in for a larger desktop monitor. Your neck muscles will thank you later. 

Schedule breaks

Much like in an office environment, employees are entitled to breaks, whether it be morning tea, lunch or afternoon tea. If you’re working from home it’s important to take scheduled breaks, which means walking away from the computer altogether and sitting down for an hour lunch break and two 15-minute breaks, if not more. 

Define work hours

Whether you’re allowed to define your work hours or have them set by your employer, it’s important to stick to the hours. Overworking is a real issue and if you’re new to working from home you might be eager to get everything done in one day, but sometimes it’s just not possible.

At the end of the day, when your time is up, sign out of all work platforms and take a break from the computer. 

Keep active

Long sessions of inactivity at a desk is bad for your body and mind. If you think staying at your desk all day will increase productivity, you would be sorely mistaken.

The recommended hourly activity rate is 250 steps. That’s a mere two to three minutes of walking every hour. You can set a reminder on your phone or there are fitness apps that have a sedentary life setting, which will remind you to get up and walk.

My Fitbit buzzes at me every hour to get in my 250 steps. Apart from reaching daily steps, it’s also beneficial to add in a 5 or 10-minute workout to replace your daily commute. Pick up some weights, do push-ups, go for a run a swim or find a spot on the floor and do a quick ab workout.

There are many quick workouts you can follow on YouTube or through fitness apps.  

Eliminate distractions

We’re all guilty of scrolling through social media when we should be working. Now that you’re working from home, a simple 2-minute session could turn into 2 hours. It’s best to avoid all social media (unless your work requires it) and other distractions such as TV, roommates, pets and household chores.

Pets are one of the biggest distractions, as they vie for your attention with pure adorableness, but resist. If you have to, lock them out of your space so you can get work done.

It’s also important to resist the urge to clean the house. Instead, schedule a specific time to clean the house and play with pets after work. 

Eat well

Working from home has many benefits, but the best is perhaps proximity to a cupboard of snacks. Sure, at the office you can have a secret snack drawer, but at home, you’re alone and have a cupboard full of them. Resist, resist, resist. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet when working from home and especially in the stressful situation we’re all in.

Rid the house of sugary snacks and stop ordering pizza. Instead, plan your meals for the week and if you have the time or means, meal prep if necessary, so when it comes to lunch you can reach into the fridge and it’s already made.

Similarly to an office setting, it’s important not to eat your food at the desk. I like to take an hour to catch up on an episode of my favourite TV show while eating lunch. 

Socialise

Working from home can be lonely most of the time unless you live with others or have an animal. Even then, it’s important to socialise. Make video calls to friends and colleagues to prevent feelings of isolation from creeping in.

If your family, partner or roommate is home and they’re not busy, organise a dinner date together or set-aside time to talk about anything, even if it’s gossip. It improves morale and will help you maintain a healthy state of mind. 

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