Times are increasingly uncertain, and for many of us the precarious trend has extended to the workplace, and the home. When social distancing is the rule of the day, many of us have been secluded to, and have started working from, our homes. And let’s be honest, at first, this sounds like a grand idea.
What could be more perfect, than waking up at noon, lounging in your pajamas and working at your own leisure? What could possibly go wrong?
Just about everything. Remember; your home may be a bastion of unbridled comfort, but this also makes it a petri dish for distractions. And if you want to stay productive, you have to be wary of all possible pitfalls.
Luckily, as someone who has worked from home, on and off, for several years I have amassed a number of tricks to stay on track. And they’re all easy enough to be applied to your routines immediately.
Clean As You Go
When you can’t beat them, clean them. Here’s the thing, when you’re at the office, the stack of dishes and pile of laundry is out of sight, and out of mind. They are also miles away. Because of this, you can focus on the tasks that are in front of you. But, when the dishes beckon, every time you look up from your screen, and the laundry is hanging on your every thought; avoidance becomes impossible.
And depending on the girth of your urge, resistance may in fact be futile. Often, it is much more effective to schedule your chores into your daily routine. For example, I actually start the day off by doing the dishes. It is a personal pet peeve of mine, to have a sink piled high with dishes. Hence, when I spend the first fifteen minutes of the day getting through this chore, I actually feel like I’ve accomplished an important task. So I start the day off on a productive foot, and with the distraction done and dusted, I can focus on my tasks.
A Change Of Scenery
Where do you usually work, when you work from home? Maybe you have an office, maybe you work on the dinner table, maybe you type away in your bedroom. I don’t think that a particular part of the house will work for everyone.
What I will say, is that if your chosen place of work isn’t working anymore, then it’s time for a change. Should you feel distracted, lazy or even disoriented, it’s time to move. Breaking any kind of cycle can often refocus the mind, and the same is true for your surroundings. This simple change can really reinvigorate your efforts.
So, if you usually work in the living room, try the kitchen table. A small change can make a huge impact.
Have you ever employed the pomodoro time management method? Associated with the tomato timers that have adorned many kitchens, this method breaks up the workload, and incorporates breaks into the mix. The idea is that by breaking the flow at intervals, and allowing rest, it encourages you to work more efficiently
Here is a basic outline. First, make a task list. Then, set a timer for twenty-five minutes. When you complete two rounds of twenty-five minutes, take a five minute break. When you complete two more rounds, take a fifteen minute break. And then, start the whole process all over again.
And of course you can use any timer, but there is a website dedicated to this tomato, so here.
Progress Vs. Perfection
Often, the need for perfection can quell progress itself. You might be waiting for everything to be just right, and put off work because tiny details do not feel aligned.
Maybe you’re waiting for inspiration, for the perfect words, or just putting off the work for when you feel perfectly motivated. This deceptive form of procrastination can get really overbearing in the absence of an authority figure.
With your manager assigning deadlines, and expecting results at a set time, you make yourself work smarter and quicker. In the absence of such motivation, you can fall down the perfectionist trap.
So, it’s important to not just set and adhere to deadlines, but to also prioritize progress over perfection. Don’t wait for everything to feel right before you start your work; instead start on your task, and let the chips align themselves.
When All’s Said And Done…
Ultimately, the adjustment will be difficult, and it will take time. Shifting from a traditional work setting, to something unconventional cannot be a smooth transition. But, keep your head above the water. Times like these call for the rules to be rewritten; and that will always be confusing.
But, I’d like to think that when we help each other with the move, we are all a little better for it. Stay positive, stay productive, and stay safe.