It’s 2021, and I’ve been working from home since last April though at one time when everything seemed to settle down I went back to the workplace until one of my coworkers got tested positive for COVID-19. This transition was not very new. There were people who had been telecommuting even before the pandemic, and it was doable especially when there is so much online work available at the personal level, not just at the company level. One day, however, it struck me that the transition made my life more complicated with all the things that need to be done in a single, limited space; I realized my home is neither ready nor never be good enough for this change, and it took me months to undergo the transition at home where all my duties, needs, and wants are piled up now. Something needed to be done. Not just my desk but my whole life needed to be re-organized, re-oriented, and re-vived. There are many tips and hacks out there for working from home productivity, but for me it all comes down to the five. There may be more detailed tips for each section or other advice for mind-controlling and finding a balance in the post-pandemic world, but let me begin with the basics. Make sure to keep them in mind and be prepared for the new era of space management and organization!
1. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter
You don’t have to throw away every little cute thing at home, but keep your space clean and organized. It doesn’t matter if it is a desk for work or a kitchen table. Take advantage of the time when it’s better to stay home and organize your “stuff.” Because it’s going to take some time to get your hands on the entire home, I would recommend setting your workspace and kitchen as your priority. Keeping your workspace organized is important because it minimizes distraction and increases the time you focus on work. For the sake of work productivity, your work from home desk and your workspace--it could be your room, library, or living room--should be decluttered and organized. Get yourself work from home essentials, throw away unnecessary items, and reorient your home for work, which isn’t just for rest anymore.
2. Plan Your Meal Ahead of Time
Have you ever spent too much time on your lunch break? Yes, we all have. Thinking of what to eat is a big question and major interruption to your work when you get hungry or just any time! People constantly look for something to nibble on when they work from home, and they confess that they have gained weight since they’ve started working from home. To prevent the distraction, keep your refrigerator organized and know what’s in there so that you don’t have to spend too much time looking into your refrigerator and pantry every lunch time to prepare a meal between work hours. Use a meal planner and update your grocery list. You can cook something after work for the next day or make a simple sandwich without even thinking of what to eat. It is also a way to care for your health. Instead of eating whatever there is, skipping a meal, or buy fast foods, pay attention to your craves and satiate your appetite in a most simple and efficient way so that you don’t suddenly withdraw your attention, give up your work, and indulge in your craves. It is all about self-care. The one who can care for oneself can stay stronger and last longer.
3. Maintain Self Hygiene
It may sound too obvious, but we all know that we don’t always follow the basic personal hygiene habits, especially when we are staying home. Even if you have no intention of setting a foot out of your door for the day, take time in the morning to wash your face, brush your teeth, and brush your hair before starting to work or even study! Feel free to take a shower in the morning if you are that person. Of course it would be wonderful to do yoga or some fitness training in the morning, but I wouldn’t expect too much from myself in the beginning besides the basics that maintain self hygiene, which is crucial in the time of the pandemic. Instead of wearing PJs or a dress shirt only, be prepared to make a video call any time, show yourself on camera, and even go outside to say hello to your neighbor--from a distance--so that self-quarantine doesn’t mean you look unpresentable and become reclusive, and I have no doubt it will help you start each day afresh and focus on your work with a sense of professionalism.
4. Spare Time for Refreshments, Conversations, Stretching, and More!
Once your kitchen is organized, spend some time there to brew your favorite tea, drip your favorite coffee, and make yourself a cup of hot chocolate or lemonade. All of these refreshments are small work from home gifts you can treat yourself, and have some fun making them. Think of the days you used to work in an office with other teammates. You used to drink coffee and talk about your last vacation or a recent movie released; however, all these conversations and refreshments are not happening naturally anymore. People don’t suggest you take a coffee break, and you’re working long hours at the desk, feeling like you have to focus every minute. The truth is you don’t have to! You can still have small chats with your teammates, if not, you can at least have some time to make yourself a drink, look outside the window, and hum a song! Cheer yourself up by having some breaks. It’s okay. Your boss and coworkers are not watching you every minute, and after the short break, return to the desk and give full attention to your work. That’s called efficiency and productivity.
5. Make a To-do List and Play a Cross-off Game
A lot of work from home advice tells you to make a to-do list and set a goal but do not multitask. I understand. People think they can multitask, but what they are really doing is to get started on everything and not to finish anything. Sometimes, however, when you have so much work to do, you have to organize your duties, complete each task, and clear up your head. Make lists of things that need to be done under multiple categories, and those categories could be work-related, house chores, paying bills, and making a phone call to someone. Just write down everything you need to do, and when you get tired and distracted to the point where you need to stand up and do something else, look at the list and do what seems most appropriate for the moment, cross it off on the list, and get it off of your mind. When you get quite satisfied with the process, complete each task as if you play a game. Complete the simplest task you have on the list and cross it off until you complete the entire category, and the mission is always to complete your work-related category first and then small tasks when you are up for them. In this way, you won’t feel like you are behind your duties. You are fulfilling them each and every day and trying your best to follow the productive daily routine.
These are only a few of many work from home productivity tips. When you can pull them off, you can go on to the next step of waking up early, reading a few pages of a book every day, and doing a pilates or mediation, but for now, let’s have the basics down: work, eat, and play! And at last but not least, sleep tight at night. The next day will be another day you will be working from home, but don’t stay up too late. Always take a good rest and keep your energy because itt’s all to help you hang in there and find peace in this transitional time.