6 Tips To Help Make You More Productive During COVID-19 Self-Isolation
While the world adjusts to the concept of ‘social distancing,’ a fairly large number of us are holed-up in our home offices wondering what all of the fuss is about. Sure, personal face-to-face interaction is great, and sometimes even necessary, but many of us do our best work away from the 9-5 office grind. We’re more creative, more focused, and more productive. Personally speaking, I’ve been working from home in one form or another for about 15 years now. To me, “self-isolation” is part of my job, and as an easily distracted person, it’s been extremely key to why I’m able to get things done at all. So, while many of us are adjusting to a new life under the threat of contracting COVID-19, many of us, myself included, are simply shrugging and saying “welcome.”
Over that 15 years I’ve been working from home, I’ve adopted several simple habits that make each of my workdays as productive as they can be:
Don’t change your alarm.
Sure, you’re going to have a few (maybe many) extra minutes on both ends of your day now that you don’t have to commute to the office. That doesn’t mean you should sleep through them. Odds are good you were spending that time reading the morning news, checking email, interacting with colleagues, etc. You should continue to spend your newfound bonus time doing exactly those same things – only with the added benefit of extra focus. If I had a dollar for every half-baked email my own colleagues have sent me while on a train or subway, I wouldn’t need to be working at all.
Take a damn shower and get dressed.
First thing. Get up, get out of bed, get ready for the day as though it were any other. You’ll only act the part if you feel the part and you don’t feel the part when you’re taking video calls in your pajama bottoms – assuming you’re even wearing those. This isn’t sick leave, it’s work, conduct yourself accordingly.
Make room of a proper home office space if you don’t have a proper home office.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have enough space to dedicate an entire room of our house to work, but many more of us do not. Pick a corner of whatever space you do have and declare it your home office. Put a desk and chair in the corner, along with all of your work essentials (laptop, phone chargers, pens, paper, whatever) and sit your ass down. This is now your WFH station. While you’re in your WFH station you’ll be far more focused than if you set up on the couch one day, the kitchen table the next, the back porch the following, and so on. Again, you’re not on vacation here; the idea is to see the advantages of working from home: more productivity and more focus. This is your chance to catch up on all the crap you’ve left hanging because your coworkers won’t stop showing you YouTube videos that you need to pretend are funny. It is not vacation.
Take a proper lunch break.
Why eat at your desk or WFH station when you can get up, get some air, eat lunch and watch some TikTok? Take the full 30-60 minutes you’d have taken at the office, make (or Uber Eats) a proper meal, enjoy it. Recharge. Duh.
Turn on your favorite music.
It’s your home office now, isn’t it? Play what you want to play. For my money, I recommend having a muted television in the room with you so that you don’t feel too isolated from the rest of humankind, but what you choose to consume is entirely up to you. No co-workers means no arguments if you decide to put Ghostface Killah on shuffle; just remember to keep that pause button at the ready when the phone rings.
Speaking of phones, make sure everyone has your number and your ringer is on. All day, all week.
One of the worst habits people working from home have (as well as people who work with people who work from home have) is to text before calling. Don’t. Look at your clock. Is it regular business hours? Then just call. There need not be 2 or 3 communications before the actual conversation; this is distracting and unnecessary. You’re working from home, not casually sitting around deciding when to act busy because the boss calls. You’re a damn adult, save your R&R for 6pm.
Working from home can be instrumental in teaching us our own strengths and weaknesses. Some of us aren’t built to work independently and many of us don’t function well when left to our own devices. On the opposite side of that, there are a number of us who do our best work away from the distractions of the office and can’t imagine working any other way. The world we live in now demands that we are capable of both and can thrive either way.
Richard Larsson is the author of the NY Times bestseller ‘The 8 F**king Amazing Habits of F**king Awesome People,’ available November 10th, 2020 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book retailers.