With the age of the coronavirus, and the much needed “Stay at Home” order, the majority of the United States is now trying to master the art of working from home. Not only are people working from home, but students are learning 100% virtually. This is a drastic shift from our normal school routines and many are noticing a drop in productivity. Here is how you can get back on track and maximize your productivity and efficiency while working from home.
The Perfect Work Space
An essential part of being productive at home is giving yourself a good workspace. It is important to sit at a desk or table, rather than work from a bed or a couch. It is important to create a workspace that you associate with productivity and focus, rather than sleep and relaxation. Try to set up an area close to a window or an area with good natural lighting. Natural light may improve worker wellness and, in turn, improve productivity. Furthermore, keep your space clean and clutter-free. By keeping a clutter-free desk, you can save all your attention for the task at hand. Another way to increase productivity is by keeping all of your needed supplies close to your workspace so that you do not have to interrupt your workflow to retrieve more pens, books, paper, etc.
Pro Tip: You can even keep some healthy snacks close by too.
Switch It Up
As we progress in the quarantine, it becomes clear how boring and unproductive our days are. So if you can manage to set up multiple small workspaces, you can switch up your work location when you start to lose productivity. When you study, your brain makes associations with the location you are studying in, and if you switch up your location, your brain is forced to make additional associations, making you less likely to forget the information. Additionally, research shows that the brain loves novelty. If you switch up your study space, you re-engage your brain and your work will be more productive.
Routines and schedules are more important now than ever. Being at home every day makes it exceptionally easy to lose track of time and even the day of the week! Create an easily accessible monthly calendar with important dates, deadlines, and goals. It is essential that we continue to keep our lives as “normal” as possible during these unpredictable times. Continue to prepare for your exams, presentations, and deadlines as you normally would. Write down the birthdays of your family and friends on your calendar to ensure that you can give them a call on their special day even during these uncertain times.
In addition to a monthly view calendar, schedule your days. It is hard to keep track of time without the usual daily cues that one might have at work or school, such as a lunch hour or meetings. Write out your big goals for the day and try to stay task-oriented. Stay on track by assigning tasks by the hour and check-in to make sure you are completing your tasks.
Keep a consistent schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and have meal time and break times scheduled in. Having some structure to your day keeps you from being seduced by your cozy couch and binging Netflix all day.
Remove distractions from your workspace. Hide your phone, remote, video games, etc. Controlling the stimulus and removing temptation will ensure that you keep your focus on your work. If you live in a noisy household, wear headphones or play background music. Consider closing your door and sharing your schedule with your family so that they know when you are available and when you cannot be distracted. It is important to communicate to loved ones that even though you may be home, you are still working/studying full time.
While working from home you might feel tempted to multi-task. For example, you may try to do work from your couch with the TV on in the background, but multitasking can significantly decrease productivity. Not only does multitasking make you less productive, but it also dampens the quality of both tasks. Your studying and retention will not be good, nor will you fully feel relaxed. Put all of your efforts into one task, and you will significantly increase your productivity and you will have more time for recreation.
Even though we are social distancing, you and your classmates can keep each other accountable. Have daily check-ins and ask about everybody’s daily goals and at the end of the day see who met their goals! Additionally, you can have live virtual accountability buddies. Video call a friend, set the computer or phone at your desk, and mute the call. Doing this allows you to have the company of a friend while doing your work and it also keeps you accountable as you will be less likely to leave your desk or get distracted.
Take Care of Yourself
Most importantly, take care of yourself. These are physically and emotionally taxing times filled with much unknown so prioritize your physical and mental health. Make time for physical activity. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins which improve your mood. It also improves blood flow to help you stay energized and keep your body healthy during these long days of sitting at a desk. In addition to exercise, try to spend time outside. Natural environments and fresh air improve your mood and brain health.
You can be productive while working from home and you are fully capable of continuing to reach your work goals from home. It is important to continue to be flexible and optimistic during these unpredictable times.