With the vast majority of us now working or studying from home, it can be pretty difficult to stay motivated and on track for your goals. It’s important to remember that this will be a learning process for everyone, so don’t worry if you’re finding it a challenge to stay focused at first. Remember that this time is all about finding the balance that is right for you, between being productive and having time to relax and look after your wellbeing. To help you through this period, we’ve put together our top 10 tips to help you maintain your productivity whilst being at home.
1. Continue to set and keep track of goals
It’s likely that your life isn’t quite as structured since moving to remote working or studying, so it’s important that you are proactive to ensure that you stay on track for your goals. Creating a plan with daily, weekly and monthly goals will ensure you can track your progress throughout the time you’re at home and adjust any longer-term goals accordingly. Having these daily/weekly/monthly to-do lists means that you’ll get a sense of achievement. Being able to tick off what you’ve completed but also means you’ll start to see your accomplishments stack up!
We’re so used to focusing on multiple tasks at any one time, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we’re being more productive. If your current to-do list has left you a bit overwhelmed, prioritisation is key – take your daily or weekly goal sheet and rank each task from the highest priority to the lowest, and try to keep your focus on one task at a time. Struggling to define your priorities? A great tool is an Eisenhower matrix, see if it works for you!
3. Create a daily routine
Maintaining your usual work or study routine will help you feel in control of your workload and go hand in hand with achieving your goals. Did you used to go for a coffee every morning before work or your morning lecture? Try to keep doing this from home, even if your kitchen becomes your new café.
It’s also important to set work or study hours and stick to them - this will help you avoid overworking or burnout in the long run.
4. Set aside time to relax
Following on from creating a routine, it’s essential that you factor in enough time for yourself - you may no longer be able to go to the pub or to a football match right now, but there’s plenty of things you can still do at home, like reading a book, calling your friends or family, cooking or sitting in the garden, if you have one. Stay connected to your family and friends, and also look after your own well being. This will all work to increase your overall happiness and productivity levels.
5. … but don’t spend all day on Instagram
Yes, this one is easier said than done – however, we all know that social media can affect your productivity levels. Social media is a great tool, particularly for staying connected during this time, but do try to manage how you use it. If you find that your willpower is waning, there are several apps that let you limit your time on your phone or social media each day. Alternatively, leave your phone in a different room for part of the day or swap phones with someone else in your house for a few hours.
6. Keep work and home separate
It can be tempting to work from your bed or in front of the TV during the day - after all, we don’t usually have this luxury when we’re commuting to work or university every day. But this can make it difficult for us to dissociate these spaces from working or from relaxing - this can often make it difficult to switch off at the end of your work or studying session.
By keeping these spaces separate, it’s easier for us to maintain that mental dissociation between work and home, even if that’s physically no longer possible. Why not set up a desk at your kitchen table or even sit outside for a bit? This will help establish a line between work and relaxing, which will keep your productivity levels higher.
7. Test out different time management techniques
With an increased number of distractions within our reach, it can be easier to lose track of time and get distracted beyond your work. Time management techniques are incredibly useful tools and will allow you to maintain focus and boost your productivity. There are plenty of techniques you can try online - a tried and tested favourite of our CEO & Founder, James, is the Pomodoro Technique: alternating short bursts of focus up to 40 minutes in length with clear, 5-minute breaks. However, there are many different techniques out there - find which one works for you and watch your accomplishments stack up!
8. Figure out when you’re most productive
Do you find you get far more done first thing in the morning, or do you struggle to fully wake up until the afternoon? One benefit of being at home is that we have more control over our timetable. Keep a diary for the first few days of working at home and note when you were really productive or when you were struggling to concentrate - try to schedule your routine around this.
9. Work with your classmate or colleague (virtually)
If you’re the type of person who thrives working around other people, and working from home is proving more challenging, then why not FaceTime a colleague or coursemate and work together for part of the day? Not only is this a great way to stop you reaching for your phone every five minutes, but will help you to stay connected, but also allows for increased collaboration while you are working.
10. Don’t give up!
Finally, this is a time of significant change and not everyone will adjust at the same pace; it will likely take a few weeks for you to fully adjust to your new surroundings and routine. The number one thing is to keep looking after yourself both mentally and physically, and this will keep you in the best frame of mind for achieving your goals.