At any organisation, productivity is always on the minds of leaders—perhaps more so now as we work from home. This transition from being a distributed but mostly co-located team to a fully remote workforce for most companies was reasonably smooth, but we’ve all been concerned about both personal and team productivity. After all, we went from having nine hours of committed time in the office each day to spending all day juggling work and household tasks with no defined line of separation. Then there are employees who have pets and/or kids (and their education!), and it’s easy to see how work gets derailed as we try to do it all.
From creating a routine and organizing tasks to blocking distractions and even taking a nap, here are 6 practical tips to help you get things done.
- Develop a daily routine
Some of us can just roll out of the bed and start working, while others may have to run household errands before they start work. Well, what works for one doesn’t work for all.
Your daily routine can vary according to personal preferences and business needs, but it’s important to have one in the first place. Establishing a daily routine provides structure to your day and makes it easier to get things done.
Start each day by establishing a clear start time and a hard stop to work-related tasks. Block chunks of time each day for household chores, family commitments, work assignments, and personal tasks with breaks to unwind. Working from home isn’t too different from working in general, and a daily routine helps you better manage your time and energy.
- Jot things down to stay organized
Once you jot down what you need to do during the day, organize them into personal and work buckets. Prioritize tasks as needed, and throw in a few personal commitments like preparing a meal, family time, or even cleaning up as breaks between work. Having a clear set of to-dos makes it easy to stay on track and get things done. Additionally, the change of pace between a work meeting and TV time with family might be just what you need to unwind and relax.
- Take a nap, but avoid becoming a couch potato
Is all that work tiring you out? Get some rest. But of course, not at the cost of falling behind on work, but even a 20-minute power nap between work tasks can considerably increase mental alertness and revive your body’s energy levels. Plus, who doesn’t like a good nap?
Another thing to keep in mind when working from home: you’ll lose track of time hunched over your laptop when you’re being noticeably productive far more often than in the office. With colleagues around, we get visual reminders to take a break as and when they do, so we move away from our workstations, and maybe walk ourselves downstairs to brew a cup of coffee. At home, most of us are likely to not get even that little amount of physical activity each day. Manage this by setting a reminder to get up and stretch your legs every hour. A little physical activity can curtail multiple negative health effects.
- Block distractions with DND mode on
Working from home can be fun, but it’s also very easy to get distracted. Setting yourself up in a quiet corner of the house or a decent home workstation is a good idea, but it’s equally important to mute alerts from your phone and communication apps. Notifications are an actual productivity killer, especially when one is sitting at home and subconsciously wondering what our friends are up to. Every beep rings in our minds, FOMO mode strikes soon enough, and work gets interrupted.
Set your phone to silent, mute desktop notifications, and set your workplace collaboration platform to DND whenever you need to focus on a particular task. Using DND also lets co-workers know they shouldn’t expect an immediate response.
- Set a hard stop for work
Your daily routine should always have a hard stop for work, just like you would if you were working from office. Set a specific time to shut down your workstation and mute all notifications so you can spend time with family, focus on self-care, or just unwind from a long day at work.
Don’t be hard on yourself when an occasional task remains incomplete, maybe just move it up your priority list for the next day. Establish an end-of-work routine to signal your brain that it’s time to unwind and make sure your team implements similar routines to encourage a much needed work-life balance.
- Communicate with your team
Finally, talk to your team when you feel there’s too much on your plate. Check-in with co-workers on how they’re managing their workload. Compare what you were doing earlier and what you’re doing now to figure out where you’re losing time or where you’re being less productive. Maybe reassigning some tasks will be more resourceful? Or maybe you just need a day or two to de-stress? In either case, talking to your team can help.