Ever since the lockdown, we have been pushed into our homes and locked in for what seems like ages. While that happens, work continues. The stress has been building up with office work and homechores locking horns. Since this is a new setup for most of us, we still do not have a system in place to ensure everything gets done properly and hormoniously. We all know, the latter has been close to missing in our lives, these days.
So, till the time you put a routine into place on how to master the two; office work and house chores, let me share with you some quick hacks on how to get more done during this work from home phase.
What makes me an expert on work from home?
So, I started working from home in 2015. During this time, I worked a full-time job and was building a brand, while juggling house chores and by early 2016, being a full-time mom to a newborn. Things were close to unimaginable during those days. I was working insane hours, sleepling less, and hardly eating. Everything challenging takes its own time to mellow down and fall into line. My methods, too, took their time, but soon I built a super efficient system, which took care of everything in my life, my:
Family (especially, my kid)
Recently, when I saw my friends and aquaintances battle their work from home situations, I thought it would be helpful if I could share my methods with them and you all. It would truly, be great if it could help even one person reading this.
I recently posted a video on the same. It's a bit long, but you can watch it here. I would recommend you watch it once you are done reading this post.
So, here's a gist of the 10 hacks:
1. Start the night before
The thing that lies behind getting all your work done on any particular day, is planning. You need to plan your day ahead, the night before. Right before you head to bed, whip out your planner/agenda/diary and list out everything you need to get done the next day. Most of us are anxious within. Anxiety (not talking about chronic anxiety, here) stems from apprehension, the feeling of lack of control, not knowing what the future holds and worrying too much about it.
So at night, when you are about to sleep but you find thousand of thoughts racing through your mind, take those thoughts/chores and list them down. This to-do list will save you a lot of time the next day, as you already know what is to be done and you will be checking them off the list, as per priority. There you have it, control and a plan.
2. Make your bed
The second important thing to do is to make your bed as soon as you wake up. This will (to a great extent) make sure you don't mess up your bed by sneaking in a nap during work hours.
Also, it's always difficult to check off the first task on any list. Once you start checking them off, you start gaining momentum. Making the bed could be the first in your list. The most basic, easy-to-do task that also adds to your energy quotient in some strange psychological way. (Find out where I learnt about this in the video)
3. Dress to work
Clearly you won't get a lot done on work front if you are in your pajamas all day. First of all, you are at home, not in your usual work environment. That itself adds a certain slack to the work situation. Throw comfortable pajamas into the mix and you have a winning combination of lazy and Netflix beckoning you with a bag of chips in its hands. Once you are up and done with whatever cleaning chores you have on your list, take a shower and dress for the job that pays your bills. Just try this out for a couple of days. Get ready like you would do if you were actually headed to your office.
4. Organize your tasks
When you are working from home, housechores will inevitably start eating into your workhours. Even very tiny ones like answering the door, making your own meals, and cleaning your workspace can take away some time you would have otherwise allotted to getting your work done. The key to managing this is to plan when are you going to get your housechores done and dusted. The point is, when you are working, the situation and setting should be as close to a workplace scene. Set time limits for both and ensure they do not spill over to each other's space. Treat these time limits as sacred and whatever be, don't just walk out of one space to the other just because you remembered something you needed to get done.
5. Work at stretch
What I recommend is an easier 45 minutes of work, done with all your focus and seriousness. This means not even peeking into your phone when you hear the notification bell. Just don't.
6. Reward yourself
Once you are done with that stretch of work, reward yourself with10-minutes of phone time, Netflix, or a snack. Stretch your muscles and then get back to your 45-minute work routine. This will help you get a lot done, even if the 10-minute breaks in between seem a lot. They are actually helping you boost your productivity. But hey, 10-minutes means 10-minutes. You need to be accountable for this and ensure you do not overstep your reward time.
7. Prioritize tasks
If you do not prioritize your to-do list, you might feel extremely overwhelmed. To avoid that, list down your activities on the basis of priority.
8. Say no to distractions
You would not get chatty on a phone call if you would have received the same at work, would you? Or you wouldn't entertain a guest or turn on Hotstar for an episode of your favorite show, either. Maintain that willpower and understanding when you are working from home, too. You will find people often disregarding your work from home status. You can do nothing to change that. Don't even bother to indulge in an argument. What you can do, is in your hands. Work sans distractions. Say no to social activies and social media, as much as you can while working from home. You can catch up with them in the evening during your free time. And right now, with all the social distancing happening, schedule your video calls post work hours.
9. Worst tasks first
Take care of the tasks you dread the most, first thing in the morning. In the morning, you are all charged up and have got a lot more energy to deal with everything. So, this is the time to tackle the worst things on your to-do list. After you are done with your morning coffee and book/paper time, go ninja on the tasks you know you are most likely to avoid throughout the day.
10. Set easy goals
Yes, very important. Don't be hard on yourself. It is possibly the first time ever you are caught in such a situation. Start easy and don't expect yourself to get it all correct the first time. Make sure you are specific about the tasks you add to your list, so that you don't spend decoding your coded to-do list for half an hour each day. That wouldn't be very productive.
So, start slow and steady and take one day at a time. Instead of incorporating all these habits together, start with a couple first (the first 2 or 3) and then start adding more structure to your routine. In the video I talk about the 21-day routine. Anything that's done repeatedly for 21 days becomes a habit. Afterall, "good habits are the key to all success." ~Og Mandino.