Updated on 08/07/2020
Despite all of the media coverage around how coronavirus may affect our daily lives throughout 2020, the reality of its impact is that life has been, well… a little strange.
Many of the obvious changes it has brought about stem from working from home. They include the fact that we’re spending time with different people (and missing our work colleagues!), embracing a different working environment, and even adapting to different lifestyles as we drop our daily commute and pick up more digital practices.
In light of both the positive and negative changes affecting our lifestyles, we would like to share some tips to help you stay positive throughout these tough times, and maintain your productivity in a fast-moving, unpredictable world of work.
The tips we’re about to share with you are intended to be taken with a pinch of salt; we’re all different, after all. We’re tailoring our tips to the majority of business owners and employees who have been working from home during lockdown, but wherever you are and whatever your working situation may be, we hope you can take something away from the following advice.
It can be tempting to wake up just in time for work and spend a good hour or two working from the comfort of your bed. Or, the kitchen table might seem like a convenient home for your work laptop.
When you’re working from home for extended periods of time, though, it’s probably best to avoid using these quick-fixes as your primary workspace. Instead, set up a proper work station that you can inhabit comfortably over a period of a few weeks or months.
Ideally, you’ll pay attention to your posture- including your desk height and choice of chair. It may also be worth ensuring that you have enough natural light or background lighting to avoid potentially straining your eyes. A double monitor setup could even support with this, and make it easier for you to multitask.
Working from home and living at home are two very different things, but it’s easy for the boundaries between your work life and your personal life to become blurred.
Consider how you switch off to regain control over your day; are you being strict with yourself by setting time boundaries for when you clock off from work, and making sure you switch into ‘home mode’?
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance could help to make your working from home experience more enjoyable, and it may serve to protect you from stress and/ or anxiety.
This one is fairly self-explanatory; we’re all guilty of probably spending a bit too much time on social media. It’s an ever-present distraction that requires deliberate effort and practice to actually pull yourself away from.
Try to turn this practice into a habit by removing the distraction of social media from your everyday work life. For some people, consciously choosing not to pick up their phone is enough, but for others, putting the phone out of arms reach may be a better solution for remaining focused.
There can be benefits to using social media for work purposes however; it can be a great tool for researching customer opinions and trends, which you could feed into a marketing strategy, for example. That said, it’s important to exercise some control over how much time you spend on social media, as the constant ping of notifications might not do much good for your productivity.
We’ve mentioned setting boundaries to identify when you stop and start working, but how you actually spend your time is a different matter entirely.
Ensuring that the people around you, whether they’re friends, housemates or family, understand that you aren’t available for an hour long chat or to watch a film during the working day may benefit your productivity overall.
If you feel that you do put in a good shift during the day - and we appreciate that as a business owner, your day may start earlier or end later than the usual 9-5pm - then you may be less likely to feel guilty about stopping work when you feel you’ve achieved what you need to in a day. Being strict with your time could allow you to dedicate more time to your family, friends or personal life outside of your working day.
It’s not unusual to have some sort of ritual to help you get ready for work. For some people this involves a morning coffee, a long shower or even the commute in- but not everyone has a ritual in place for effectively winding down at the end of a long day.
Winding down is especially important when you’re working and living in the same environment, as it may help you to mentally leave the stress of work at your work station (which you set up after reading our first tip, right?).
Try out some different options and find a routine that works for you. Yoga, a relaxing shower, or an evening run may be good options if you aren’t quite sure where to start.
Lots of people have taken up home cooking during the coronavirus lockdown; it has been an extremely popular trend. If you’re amongst the large group of people who are enjoying developing and refining their cooking skills, then it may be worth getting into meal planning too.
Quite simply, meal planning involves you making the most out of your newfound passion and skills by preparing meals in advance so that you can spend more time relaxing throughout the working week, and less time in the kitchen.
If the idea of meal prep scares you a little, you may find that turning to some external help makes the process a little easier. There are a range of companies out there who specialise in preparing the ingredients needed for a variety of different meals, then delivering them to you along with some easy-to-follow recipes.
Juicy British heritage tomatoes tumbled into a fresh zesty pasta salad with seasonal green beans and peppery rocket – get in!— Gousto (@goustocooking) June 18, 2020
You’ll find sour some of our favourite seasonal British veg in our new summer recipes on the menu now: https://t.co/ZvSTOcIeVI ☀️ #SeasonalVeg pic.twitter.com/MbSaz8ndRR
You heard us. We’re talking about the normal types of breaks you would take if you were working in your office. Aka, the five or ten-minute tea or coffee breaks that give you some mental respite from the tasks you’ve been focusing on, in the hope of leaving you feeling recharged.
It’s important to remember that just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break every once in a while. You could even look to take breaks with your colleagues; give them a call, chat with them about their day, ask what they’ve got planned for the weekend and help to break up the monotony of a working day which you might well be experiencing if you’ve been sat in the same spot for too long.
We have saved our best productivity tip until last -bullet journaling.
Bullet journaling is an organisational technique that, once learned, can help you to keep a clear track of your previous, current and future tasks. It’s a clever answer to the mountains of sticky notes and email reminders we find ourselves having to face.
In a bullet journal, you separate four double page spreads to represent four views of your tasks. These are:
From there on, you’ll use three different bullet point icons to indicate whether your tasks are events, notes or to-do’s, and transfer them between the different pages in a system that gives you complete visibility and control over your workflow. It may take a little getting used to, but once you’ve nailed the technique you could find yourself organising your work much more effectively.
There’s always productivity apps to consider if you don’t think bullet journaling is the one for you, or cluster tasking, whereby you bunch up different tasks and distribute them across your day, instead.
Thanks for reading our top tips on how to be productive and stay positive during lockdown. We’d actually like to end with one bonus tip, which is to simply cut yourself some slack. It’s been a tough few months for most of us, and we wish you the best of luck with overcoming any wellbeing challenges as we start to slowly return back to normal.