Living through the current COVID-19 pandemic is scary. There’s a lot of things we have had to get used to and I’ll be honest, it has been a real struggle for me and I’m sure for most.
I’ve struggled a lot with feeling connected and staying focussed, particularly in my work.
Since March 16th I have been working from home in my role as a Recruitment Consultant. I started my job in January this year, so I was barely in the door 3 months before the whole world turned on its head and working life changed for what many have said will be forever.
Remote working is the future. We all know it, in fact just last week Twitter announced that their employees will now be allowed to work from home “forever”! I’m pretty positive that a lot of companies will be heading the same way and even my company has said that the future of our office will be a lot more flexible.
It really is an exciting time to be a young professional seeing this change in action. From the almost ‘toxic’ work environment where we prided ourselves on being the first one in the office and the last one out at night; to a more compassionate and understanding workforce. Coronavirus has shown us all that to ensure high productivity and a positive morale, there needs to be a strong focus on incorporating more LIFE into our work/life balance.
The hard question is, how do we do that? How can we possibly adapt to this future work style when the old-fashioned and indeed outdated mentalities have been the norm for so long?
I want to share with you a few of my tips that have really helped me the past couple of months as we have worked from home.
- Focus on yourself.
When we began working from home I found myself worrying about how productive I was being and comparing myself to my colleagues. Despite meeting deadlines there have been times where I’m scared to leave my desk in case someone calls and I’m not there to answer, making me look incompetent to the rest of the team. My advice if you feel like that is to focus on yourself and your own work. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, you are trying your very best in a very weird situation and as long as you are showing up and not giving up you are already doing a good job!
- Break down your working day into smaller chunks.
There’s definitely an added pressure when home-working to be ever present and always on the other end of the phone. I found myself at the beginning of lockdown not moving from my desk at all unless it was for a short lunch break. I was so worried that if I wasn’t there to answer a call I would look like I was doing nothing.
I’ve tried to curb that bad habit the past few weeks as I realised how unhealthy it was and it actually had a really bad effect on my productivity. I realised that back when things were normal and I was working from the office I wouldn’t be sat at my desk for longer than an hour before I would be making myself another cup of tea or meeting my colleague in the kitchen for a catch-up. This meant that my working day was broken down into more manageable chunks. I’d make a few phone calls, send a few emails and then I’d step away from my desk for a couple of minutes. While in the office, this meant that my productivity was always high and I got more done in a shorter amount of time. This is a habit I need to emulate while home-working.
Screen time is already sky high during this time, so take any chance you can to get up and move around away from your laptop! You’ll definitely find you’ll be more productive when you schedule more breaks around shorter and more focussed work blocks.
- Create a schedule
Tying in with the last point, I would really recommend making sure you stick to a set work schedule. It can be so hard working from home as the days turn into weeks and before long another Friday rolls around and you sit thinking, but what have I actually done? This is so normal, but it doesn’t need to be like that. You can take control of your working week and start the weekend feeling accomplished! Creating and sticking to a schedule is the best way to do this; start your day as you normally would if you were heading into the office. Set your alarm and wake up at the same time every day; jump in the shower and throw on some fresh loungewear, have breakfast or at least make yourself a coffee. Unfortunately, you will need to forego your morning Starbucks in exchange for a homemade one but hey think of the money you’re saving! Once you’re ready you should feel a lot more prepared for your day, so dedicate the next few hours to working. Remember to take your hourly break away from you laptop and when lunchtime rolls around take your full hour! Get out for a walk or even try and do a home workout. Once it’s all over and 5pm hits, log off. I think the main thing to make sure you’re sticking to your schedule is to keep your working hours to your regular 9-5 – just because your laptop is there doesn’t mean you have to log on halfway through your nightly Netflix binge!
- Talk to your colleagues
After 2 months of social distancing and isolation, it is important now more than ever that you are connecting with your colleagues. Gone are the days where I could peek over my computer screen and ask my work bestie if she fancies a gossip in the kitchen; now we need to make the effort to stay in touch with our coworkers. Even if it’s just a quick 5 minute zoom video call while you have your 11am coffee, these little moments of socialising will keep you from feeling lonely! Make sure to schedule a call a day with one of your fave colleagues, one that you know you can just chat to without the pressure of discussing deadlines and work things. This way, you’ll stay connected, feel less lonely and still feel like you’re being productive as you’re still technically “working”! Win win.
- Have something to look forward to out of work
Granted, this one can be a bit tricky given that we’re in the midst of a global crisis and not many of your favourite out of work haunts will be open. But this doesn’t mean you need to be bored. Find something that makes you excited to log off at 5pm and do something just for yourself! I’m not pushing you to find your next fave hobby or start a side hustle, no way – even if you make your way through your to-watch list on Netflix that you didn’t have the time for pre-corona. Or, maybe it’s time to finally try all those recipes you’ve been pinning to your Pinterest board! It can be anything as long as you feel you’re doing something for yourself and you focus on something outside of work. I’ve even started jumping rope as a way to feel like I’m doing something productive and healthy with minimal effort!
Let me know what you decide to do!
I hope these few tips will help you feel a little bit more productive while you’re working. If you have any more tips I’d love to hear them 🙂