If you’re one of the many people who are currently trying to work from home during the global coronavirus pandemic, there’s a good chance that you might find the experience fairly unfamiliar and jarring, and that you’re not entirely sure how to stay productive – or for that matter, sane – while working from home.
Fortunately, though, there are a wide variety of things you can, in fact, do to stay productive and sane, and to use your time as fruitfully as possible, when you are forced to work from home. After all, many freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers in general have been refining their techniques on an everyday basis precisely in order to remain productive and positive in a home-based context.
Here is an array of tips you can use.
Try to stick to a fairly regular daily routine
- 1 Try to stick to a fairly regular daily routine
- 2 Use to-do lists, and a daily calendar, to stay on top of things
- 3 Find opportunities every day for a bit of laughter
- 4 Don’t allow yourself to get too bored; play some games and explore various entertainment options
- 5 Consider making progress on a side business
- 6 Work on refining your skillset and learning new things
A lot of people are quite good at remaining productive at work and getting things done in the right time frames, and to the right specifications, just so long as they have a broader structure and framework provided externally to keep themselves on track and oriented properly.
Of course, when you’re working from an office, the whole environment is structured in order to keep you productive and focused – and then, when you return home after work, you’ll likely find that it isn’t so hard to make a mental “switch” between work time and leisure time.
When you’re working from home, on the other hand, everything is completely different. For one thing, there is simply no longer an external structure for you to adhere to, and no supervisors to ask you why you are watching YouTube videos when you should be making headway on a project.
Instead, you need to provide your own structure and figure out your own routine. This can, understandably, be quite a challenge, and it’s the reason why a lot of people find the experience of working from home unpleasant.
The best way to deal with this potential issue is to try to stick to a fairly regular daily routine as if you were in a situation where you were being observed by others.
So, for example, you should wake up at a certain time every day, have breakfast at a certain time every day, start work at a certain time every day, “clock off” at a certain time, and so on.
It may also be important for you to actually get dressed each morning as if you were going to work in an office, as opposed to staying in your pajamas indefinitely. In some cases, the clothes you wear can – in and of themselves – be a psychological anchor that tells you it’s time to be productive.
Use to-do lists, and a daily calendar, to stay on top of things
What’s true for your professional life with regards to staying organized is also true for your personal life, particularly in a period of general instability and uncertainty, such as the one that we all find ourselves in at this particular moment in time.
In order to help yourself to stay on top of your various obligations, not to mention to actually feel generally upbeat and positive about things, use to-do lists and a daily calendar, in order to make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed by a sense of chaos and turmoil.
There are many different systems and methods, tools, and platforms that have been developed specifically in order to help you manage your to-dos and keep on track with your various projects and obligations. The same is also true for maintaining a daily schedule and calendar.
Whichever particular variant you happen to use – whether it’s David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal Method, or something of your own devising – simply recording things in a format outside of your own head can help you to stay on top of your obligations and achieve your goals, without feeling totally overwhelmed.
Find opportunities every day for a bit of laughter
For many people, working from home for an extended period of time can be stressful, and it’s certainly stressful for everyone to have to deal with the general-purpose concerns and uncertainties that come along with a global pandemic such as the one currently underway.
In such a situation as this, trying to be completely serious and practically minded at all times is likely to only cause further stress and strain, while also having a negative knock-on effect on the people around you.
While you should, of course, deal with the practical concerns that present themselves, you should also find opportunities every day for a bit of laughter and levity – whether that means reading light-hearted novels like the works of Terry Pratchett, or watching stand-up comedy routines, listening to podcasts, or watching films that put a smile on your face.
Don’t allow yourself to get too bored; play some games and explore various entertainment options
If you allow yourself to get extraordinarily bored on an ongoing basis while you’re quarantined and confined to your home, it’s likely that your desire to procrastinate when you should be working will rise dramatically, and also that the overall experience of being stuck at home will seem increasingly intolerable to you.
While your first priority should be dealing with your various obligations and duties, and while periods of silence and contemplation are certainly crucial, you should also ensure that your “free time” is generally filled with entertainment options to keep you distracted and that gives you something positive to focus on.
In other words, stay sane by playing some games and exploring various entertainment options, whether those are all digital, all analog, or a mixture of the two. This might also be a good time to take up certain hobbies such as drawing and writing.
Consider making progress on a side business
If you’re stuck at home for a prolonged period of time, that might be the perfect moment for you to begin making progress on a side business concept that you have been considering for some time. Or, it can also be a great opportunity to make progress on an existing side business of yours that hasn’t been getting quite as much attention as it perhaps should have been.
Side businesses can be engaging “hobbies” in and of themselves, and they certainly require a regular investment of time and energy, which you probably have an excess of if you are at home for a prolonged period of time.
With any side hustle of yours, you will learn new things and enjoy a more interesting kind of life – but you’ll also increase the possibility of a dream job or additional source of revenue coming your way down the line, which can certainly make the particular worries and irritations of the moment seem less substantial.
Work on refining your skillset and learning new things
According to various commentators on professional success, one of the most reliable ways of achieving success, in general, is to become reasonably proficient at a large number of different skills, as opposed to just becoming hyper-specialized at one thing.
You can help your professional life and your personal life alike, by taking some time to refine your skillset and learn new things.
That might mean, for example, doing research online to help you to migrate to azure, or it could mean doing a coding course, starting to learn a new language, training yourself in SEO fundamentals, and so on.