The prescribed actions are necessary to prepare and prime your mind for a productive day at work. When you are working from home you are your own boss; hence it is of paramount importance that you follow a few best practices to get optimum output from the workday.
By Anirban Mukhuti
As the nation remains in lockdown mode, a large percentage of white-collar employees are now working from home. Work from home has been prevalent in a few industries and professions like IT/ITes, consulting, software engineering, coaching, freelancing, etc.
However, this is not the most widely availed mode of work. Even developed nations like the US had only around 4% of people regularly working from home during the pre-Covid19 days. Organisations were compelled to adopt this mode of working overnight, and the reality is that work from home might become the new normal in the coming months.
When one starts working from home, the first few days are generally a bit difficult to cope with. However, with time, the mind and body adjust. Here are a few suggestions which you all might find useful while working from home.
#1 Wake Up Time – Remind yourself that you are not on holiday and hence it is essential that you do not alter your wakeup time. If you wake up very late, the body might not get adequate time to get into work mode. Treat every weekday like any other regular office going day.
#2 Morning Routine – It is an excellent practice to do some stretches or exercises before you have a bath and breakfast. A small fitness routine can help you stay rejuvenated throughout the day and prevent unwanted lower back issues.
#3 Dedicated Work Area – Irrespective of the size of your home, you should earmark an area (a separate room or particular corner) which will be your dedicated work zone. The place you choose should have some privacy with decent acoustic comfort (lesser noise levels). The very act of creating a physical boundary during work hours will deter your family members from distracting you.
#4 Sitting and Seat – The day is going to be long, so kindly get a comfortable chair. Sitting on a sofa or couch is not advisable as it might lead to backaches after long working hours.
#5 Dressing – Wearing a smart-looking collared T-shirt or shirt is advisable, especially if you have video calls with superiors or clients. Avoid funky looking clothes.
#6 Planning Your Day – To stay productive, you must create a schedule. Most of you must be participating in numerous webinars and conference calls throughout the day, which essentially means that someone else is driving your day. Creating a schedule ensures that you are in control for the most part of the day. Break the day into five chunks of 90 minutes, or four chunks of 120 minutes, and if possible, jot down the priority tasks for each chunk. That way, you will end up doing much more systematically.
#7 Sharing Your Calendar – It is a good practice to share your schedule with your family members and closest team members. That way, they will try not to call or schedule meetings randomly.
#8 Making Use of the First Hour – Generally, the mind is at its sharpest during the first one hour. So, it is ideal for taking up and complete the highest priority task within that time. Each one of us has our peaks and troughs in concentration levels during the course of the day. Identify a pattern and try to accomplish the hardest tasks when you are at your best.
#9 Taking Breaks Regularly – It is advisable to take a break of at least 15 minutes after each chunk of 90 or 120 minutes. One can have some beverage or catch up on some social media, etc. Staying hydrated is essential for optimum performance of the brain.
#10 Informal Conversations – When you work from home, you will miss the cafeteria chit chat. Remember that we are all social beings and these interactions increase our sense of belongingness to the workplace. Ensure that every day you spend some time talking to your closest buddies for a limited period without compromising your work schedule. That way, you will not feel lonely.
#11 Lunch Hour – The lunch hour can be used to catch up with family members. Spend some quality time with them post-lunch before getting back to work.
#12 Post-lunch – Follow the schedule post lunchtime. Raise your work intensity slowly.
#13 End Time – You must end your day at a specific time. Every office has a closing time, so kindly enforce the same with the help of an alarm or a timer.
#14 Post-work routine – Do some stretches to remove any stiffness from the body. Under lockdown, you are likely to walk less; hence it is essential to keep your body agile through exercise.
#14 Unwind with family.
#15 Night-time Routine – This is a good practice, which allows you to take stock of what you have accomplished throughout the day and what should be your priorities for the next day. This will enable you to use your first work hour very productively, as you will be clear about your high priority action areas.
Remember that you are not a robot. Hence time and again you will falter, fall behind schedule, your conference calls will get stretched. Not to worry. Through trial, error and experience, you will keep improving. As long as you have a systematic approach and a well-structured plan to work towards, you will end up being far more productive than most.
Enjoy working from home and make the most of it.