Although this topic was planned months ago, the recent pandemic has made the issue much more significant.
As someone who’s worked from home for the last year and a half, I’ve had my ups and downs with productivity. Learning to tame time takes getting used to. You must create your own flexible structure to make it work, and there’s a fine balance between flexibility and order.
Once you learn to tame time and balance expectations, working from home is more productive than co-working environments. Unfortunately, it took this world infection for many companies to understand the importance of allowing remote work options to staff. I guess there’s a silver lining in everything.
Whilst most employees seem to be on board, others forced into remote work may find it hard adjusting.
Here’s how to tame time, tackle the at-home blues and stimulate productivity amidst COVID-19 and beyond.
1. Create a Private Writing or Working Room
In Stephen King’s On Writing, he talks about creative sleep; a term used to describe how your writing (or working) room should be.
The same way as you go to your room to sleep, your writing place should be a private space where you go and “dream”, or create. We do our best creating when we dream.
“Your schedule – in at about the same time every day, out when your thousand words are on paper or disk – exists in order to habituate yourself, to make yourself ready to dream.”Stephen King
Of course, Stephen King is talking about writing when he pens this in his book. But regardless whether you’re a writer or not, having a cosy workspace you feel comfortable in is the starting point of a productive day. You want a space you want to be in or motivation to work is impossible.
King also recommends your writing room to have a door. A good tip for any remote workspace. This tells people you mean business. The door serves to keep the world out, but also keeps you focused without distractions.
Make sure the workspace you create is clean. A clutter-free bedroom promotes better sleep the same way a clean office motivates productive workflow.
2. Learn to Cook Plant-Based Recipes
It’s ironic how many virus outbreaks fatal to the human race are from people handling animals to consume their meat. The coronavirus is only a small part of the bigger story, as animals’ viruses continue to cause global epidemics.
Although it’s not realistic for the world to go vegetarian, adding more plant-based recipes to your diet won’t hurt. In fact, the benefits for your immune system, health and productivity are huge.
The human brain is intricately wired and responds to different foods in various healthy and unhealthy ways. For it to perform at optimum peak, it needs the right nutrients.
Swapping meat meals with plant-based alternatives decreases the levels of stress hormones, eliminates toxic waste to your brain and restores balance to neurotransmitters.
Try meat-free Mondays or switch take out Fridays with a healthier plant-based option like Beyond Meat patties. Melt coconut-based Bio cheese on top or add tomato and lettuce for a tasty homemade burger.
Fun Fact: Companies like Google, Facebook, Dropbox and Volkswagen have all incorporated plant-based eating initiatives for employees. By offering vegan-friendly meals, they provide long-term benefits to staff that improve their overall health and productivity.
Getting creative in the kitchen is also the perfect break from work, especially if you’re glued to the screen for hours straight.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking but working overtime in an office for 6-years made me lazy. (I also have a husband who’s a great cook!) Yet since working from home, there’s more time to create in the kitchen. Nothing beats working with delicious smells in the background, and nourishing home-cooked meals are the fuel for productivity.
If you cultivate great cooking skills, take up a hobby, exercise from home, tackle a cleaning project or support small local businesses online instead.
3. Embrace Oxygen-Boosting Indoor Plants
An indoor garden can be your refuge from the outside world. Aside from aesthetics, adding greenery also serves a practical purpose.
Plants produce an increase in mood and productivity and create a living space soothing to work and live in. Studies have proven indoor plants enhance concentration and productivity by 47%.
Choose plants with broad leaves, as they have higher oxygen and moisture levels. They strengthen your creative performance, facilitate healing and act as a natural air-con unit cooling inside temperatures and removing toxins from the air.
The best species to grow inside for productivity are:
- Devil’s Ivy
- Snake plants (Mother in Law Tongue)
- Aloe Vera
- Spider plants
- Rubber plants
- Succulents and cacti
- Pothos plants
- Willow-leaf figs
Tip: Why not start a plant project? More time at home means time to try different hobbies. After being inspired by Hilton Carter, my husband and I began propagating. It’s a cost-effective way to grow your own plants and collect different cuttings to use as a feature wall. Once their roots come through, they’re moved into pots to add inside or out.
4. Chill, Connect and Create
To work efficiently, there must be a balance between the three c’s.
Now more than ever it’s essential to switch off. Make time to disconnect; a 20-minute break does wonders for productivity. Have a break from your phone and news by turning off notifications or limiting usage.
Listen to music, go for a walk, soak up the sunshine, prep food for the week, play a podcast, be resourceful and start a veggie garden. Just try to avoid scrolling through social media. The idea is to break away from screen and work time to engage in something that relaxes you.
Reading is also a good tool to calm the chaos. Use books as a way to travel in your mind when travelling isn’t an option. Consuming books reduces stress, stimulates the brain and refines thinking skills and concentration.
To help switch off, fellow copywriter Amanda Jane, who has worked from home for more than 2 years, suggests creating dedicated email hours and avoid inboxing outside of them.
“Research has found that when employees are interrupted by any kind of contact, their IQs drop 10 points (which is twice the impact of smoking marijuana, so you may as well light a joint instead!)”Amanda Jane
Amanda also recommends sipping on a hot drink.
“Train your mind to associate hot-beverage time with productive mode. I’ve apparently done such a good job of this I can’t work without tea.”
Great excuse to curl up with a good novel and a hot drink to stimulate productivity. Check out these gourmet treats and care packages to encourage time to chill and connect with loved ones.
Social distancing, restrictions on gatherings and businesses forced to close their doors make it harder to stay connected in the flesh. But the need for an online presence and digital connection is peaking.
Humans are sociable creatures. People and businesses rely on human connection to build trust and relate. Despite isolation now a reality, there are ways to encourage healthy connections both on and offline.
If you have a business, build your online presence to keep connected with customers. A few ways to do this are:
- Build the blog or news section of your website
- Hold an online course or workshop
- Refresh your web copy
- Make more time to call people, rather than only email
- Meet with clients face-to-face online
- Write relevant, relatable social media posts – remember, this is impacting everyone
- Join online communities
Stephen King believes reading is the creative centre of a writer’s life. But for any of us to create or work well at home, it’s vital to nurture chill (disconnect) time and make time to connect. Without enough of one, you’ll struggle to maintain the other two.
5. Have a Goal
Before you step into your working space, plan your day with a goal in mind. This is crucial for momentum, otherwise you could spend the first few hours trying to organise your day.
Use the night before to map out the next workday’s tasks. If you’re not someone who regularly works from home, distractions may be more common. Track time through tools like Toggl and if you get stuck, touch base with a friend throughout the day to hold yourself accountable for certain tasks.
6. Separate Work from other Activities
When you work from home it’s easy to work around the clock. But remote work doesn’t mean working all the time. Eventually, this leads to burnout if you don’t set boundaries and learn to adjust them.
Avoid picking up your phone or laptop, checking emails and editing work when you’re winding down – put work aside until those dedicated hours.
Google recommends leaving your computer in your workspace and only work when you’re in that spot. Pick a time you’re done for the day and stick to it. Use tools like Google Calendar to block time out and let others know when you’ve clocked off.
If you really have to attend to work tasks for a moment, wait until you finish your activity and set a 15-minute limit.
There are many benefits to remote work. Working in your own space can result in a healthier, more productive lifestyle, foster creativity, lower stress and save you money. Take a look at these remote work statistics from HubSpot to see why.
In these uncertain times, we’re all being pulled in a million different directions. Don’t let the chaos decide where to put your energy. Play around with your schedule and stamina for balance and to find your ‘biological prime time’ to work.
Read Mark Manson’s book if you’re after inspiration. This is the time to prioritise who and what’s important, rest and focus on the bigger picture.
Jayde – the little typewriter.
If you need help building your online presence, contact me to talk today.