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Many people around the world have made the shift to working from home due to the quarantine, and I for one have been struggling with it. Days are merging into each other and completing all my work in a space that was once associated with rest and relaxation has been a real challenge for me.
Ever since my first set of exams at age 16 I’ve adopted libraries and coffee shops as my workspace and I’ve never looked back. For some reason I’ve just never been able to do a solid block productive work when I’m at home.
To make matters worse, many of us are now trying to get work done in a house we share with friends or family, or even children. While I’m not a parent I hope everyone will be able to get some value out of this article.
Be kind to yourself.
We’re living through a global crisis so it’s okay if not every day is as productive as it would usually be. The media is putting a lot of pressure on everyone to make the most of the lockdown but if all you did today was survive, that’s absolutely fine.
Don’t beat yourself up for having a less than productive day and just try again tomorrow.
Wake up early and keep a schedule.
Just because you can set your own schedule now doesn’t mean you’re obliged to stay up watching Netflix until the early hours of each morning. You can if you want, but it’s not generally the most productive way of life.
For me, keeping a schedule has been vital in staying productive and completing all my work each day. I wake up naturally around 8am and go through my productive yet relaxed morning routine which sets a good tone for the rest of the day. If I can start my day off right, I can always bet on the rest of my day being productive too.
Waking up early is particularly useful if you have distracting housemates or family members. If you can wake up a few hours earlier than them you’ll have a few extra hours to get some productive work done with no distractions. Alternatively you may want to consider staying up late to do your work – any time you can get some peace and quiet will do wonders for your productivity levels.
Keep your workspace away from your bedroom.
I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but try moving your workspace away from your bedroom. This could be your kitchen table, a desk in a separate room or even your sofa or your living room floor.
Many of us have never had to share our workspaces with our living spaces before, so any separation you can create between the two will help you associate your home with work. If you can, make sure your workspace is somewhere you only get work done. This will help remind you that it’s time to be productive and not time for relaxation.
I’ve been working at my kitchen table and that’s been working well for me. I like that I have space to spread all my work out and while people coming in and out to cook and can be distracting, it doesn’t bother me too much with a good pair of noise cancelling headphones.
If your bedroom is the only place you’re able to get work done, you can still make that work for you. Try dedicating one half of your room to work and the other to sleep – you can even mark out each dedicated zone with tape. You’ll have to be strict with yourself to see the benefits of having a space dedicated solely to work, but it will be well worth it.
Noise cancelling headphones.
I get extremely distracted by noise and trying to get work done in a house where I can’t control the noise levels has been a challenge. Thankfully last year I invested in these noise cancelling headphones and they’ve been a blessing.
My family knows that I wear noise cancelling headphones when I work and that I won’t be able to hear them if they try and talk to me. So even if I’m working in a shared space I won’t be distracted by house members who don’t know otherwise.
I know not everyone is lucky enough to afford a good pair of noise cancelling headphones or to live with people who are understanding of your work commitments but I’ve found my headphones to be so valuable in getting work done with other people around.
Keep your phone in a different room.
I hate to admit it but since starting my blog I’ve become a little bit addicted to Instagram. I’m part of an amazing and inspiring community of artists and bloggers so it’s difficult to leave the app anyway, but on top of that I’ve become addicted to watching my following grow.
I know that social media platforms are designed to be addictive, so I’m not beating myself up about it, but if I’m going to be getting any work done then my phone absolutely has to be in a different room to me.
I’ve always found it crazy that we all keep our single most addictive object next to us at all times and no, it’s not enough to just place it face down with do not disturb turned on. Switch it off, lock it in a drawer and forget about it until your work is complete.
Keep your laptop charger at your workspace, no exceptions.
I’m not a master of productivity and sometimes I find myself getting sidetracked and watching some Netflix in bed. I allow myself to do that – after all, we’re all going through a difficult time and we’re entitled to some downtime now and again.
The catch is as soon as my laptop battery runs out I have to return to my workspace to charge my laptop. I don’t allow myself to bring my laptop charger anywhere near my bed – ever.
This means that even if I’ve spent the whole day watching TV in bed then I eventually have to go downstairs and get an hour of work in. And if I’ve spent the entire day doing work then I’ll have a fully charged battery by the time I’m done and can spend the rest of the evening relaxing.
Watch real time study/work with me videos on YouTube.
Recently I’ve found these styles of videos to be so, so valuable. There’s currently a massive influx of content creators uploading real time ‘study with me’ videos to YouTube and they’re a great option if, like me, you’re used to getting work done in a shared working environment.
I put one of these videos on in the background whenever I need to sit down and get a few hours of productive work in and they’ve been great for immersion purposes. They make me feel as though I’m in an office or a library and that there are people around me who will notice if I’m not doing my work.
Take a break.
You don’t have to fit everything in to your usual 9-5, so it’s a great time to take advantage of that and allow yourself some freedom with your schedule. If your body is tired, take a nap. If your family is around, spend some time with them. If you want to bake a cake, bake that cake.
It’s okay if not every day is as productive as you’d like it to be. We’re living through a pandemic and as long as you’re trying your best there’s not much more you can ask of yourself.
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