The COVID-19 pandemic and South Africa’s nationwide lockdown have thrown thousands into the world of remote working. Suddenly the morning commute is just the walk from the bed to the bathroom, your office desk chair has turned into a couch, and business casual just means putting on pants. It can seem pretty great on paper, but many of us will come to find that home is not always where the productivity is! To help you stay on the ball during lockdown, we’ve put together a few tips that will make you a busy worker bee, no matter which hive you’re in!
- Style Your Workspace
You’ve probably heard this advice from a thousand different sources – and there’s a good reason for that! Curating your workspace and making your desk a nice place to be is a super easy way to give you an extra boost of motivation for the day. First of all, make sure that your workspace is geared towards productivity – that means no beds or comfy couches! Then pretty it up! Add some pictures, plants, scented candles, some nice stationery, a big glass of water, and a snack station with fruits, veggies, nuts and other goodies (no excuse to keep going between your desk and the fridge!) Just a few simple touches will help you to get going and keep going!
- Dress for the Occasion
It’s very tempting to stay in a hoodie and slippers for the day, but studies have shown that getting dressed for a day in the office will put you in work mode and increase your productivity. Try to include this in your morning routine along with washing your face, combing your hair, brushing your teeth, and any things else that you would have to do before leaving the house. Not only will this get you in the zone, but this will give you some time to wake up, prepare for the day and get yourself looking and feeling your best!
- Keep a Routine
Maintaining your routine is probably the biggest challenge that comes with working from home, but it is essential to your productivity and general wellbeing. First of all, a good routine will ensure that you’re getting everything that you need for the day – proper meals, adequate sleep, some exercise – plus it will keep you in check with your work. A routine is even more important if you’re don’t have set working hours to start off, or if you’re studying and your educational institution has closed for the lockdown. It’s fun to spend a couple of days munching chips on the couch, but before you know it the days will flow into each other and you will find that your work and mental health is suffering.
- Team Work Makes the Dream Work
If you live with other people try to sync up your routines so that you are all working at the same time (at least for part of the day!). Even if your home is a mix of workers, students and whoever else, everyone has something that they need to do. Setting up designated “office hours” will make it easier to get into work mode, create a sense of community, and make sure that you aren’t getting FOMO sitting at your desk while the rest of the house is having a jol.
- Keep Your Worlds Separate
Remote work forces your home and office to meld into one space, which can be confusing for your brain. We reserve certain places for specific activities – your desk is where you work, the couch is where you hang out with your housemates or watch Netflix, your bed is for sleep, and so on. When you change things up because you want to work in bed for the morning or watch some YouTube videos at your desk in between tasks, you end up muddling up all the associations that have been set up. You’ll end up being unable to work or relax properly which means that you’ll be tired and unproductive – the worst of both worlds!
- Get the Right Fuel
Eating right is hard, and it gets even harder when you’re stuck at home, just a short walk from the fridge! You might end up skipping proper meals and snacking throughout the day, which leaves you sluggish from all the extra goodies, but low on essential nutrients. Try and adhere to a regular eating schedule (e.g. breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between), include lots of fresh fruit and veggies, and get in the right amounts of fat, protein, carbs, vitamins and nutrients – this will also keep your immune system in tip-top shape!. Now is a great time to try and set up a meal prep system with a set menu for the week – this will keep your health and finances in check!
- Set Up a Soundtrack
Many people swear by listening to instrumental or classical music when they’re working as it can help you to focus and block out background noise, without the distractions of music with lyrics! Try putting together a work playlist that will help you to create an office atmosphere and get you in the zone. Instrumental music tends to work best, but you don’t have to listen to Mozart – try looking for instrumental covers of your favourite songs to jazz things up!
- Break a Sweat
You knew this was coming. We all know that exercise is great for our mental and physical health, and right now it’s super important to get moving since most of us won’t be doing much walking around. A daily workout will get those endorphins going to boost your energy and your mood. Having a set time to exercise will introduce structure to your day, and completing you daily work out will give you a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Try to organise a group workout with friends and family – pick a YouTube video or a fitness challenge and Skype in during your session! Check out this Facebook group for live morning and afternoon workouts, all through lockdown, by Johno’s E-Fitness Faculty (JEFF).
- Procrastinate Productively
It would be great to avoid procrastinating altogether, but chances are that you’re going to be struggling a little bit to focus as you adjust to remote work. If you’re doing random things to avoid working, try to make the most of it by using your new-found motivation to tidy up, cook a healthy meal, put together a to-do list, or organise your notes. This will make things way easier once you settle in and get back into work mode!
- Challenge Yourself
It’s great to get some time to relax, but we actually do need a certain level of pressure to keep us motivated and driven. It can be difficult to get your butt in gear every day if your boss isn’t looking over your shoulder, or if deadlines have melted away in the face of the lockdown. To turn up the heat a little and keep your blood pumping try giving yourself a challenge like playing a musical instrument, learning a new language or picking up a new hobby! This will allow you to keep up your momentum and use the lockdown as a productive and fulfilling time.