COVID-19 has changed the world in a massive way. In fact, no one really knows exactly how far-reaching its effects are yet. We are all still coming to terms with that.
In most countries, it is no longer safe to work in an office setting. This has seen an unprecedented number of people having to work from home or worse, losing their jobs entirely.
If you are among the lucky few who can work from home, you are probably faced with yet another challenge: most homes are not exactly “work-friendly.” It's even harder if you are a parent with kids.
So what can you do about this? Well, luckily, there are ways to make working at home more productive, especially if you are also juggling parenting at the same time. This article will focus on proven work from home hacks that will help you keep working through this coronavirus pandemic.
1. Wake up early
This may sound like crazy talk especially when you have no boss to answer to, but just hear me out. Waking up early gives you the undistracted opportunity to give anything you want your undivided attention for a few hours. It’s almost like getting a few more hours in the day over and above what you normally have.
Consider getting out of bed a few hours before your kids wake up. Try to be up and about by 6 am at the latest, then watch the sun rising as you plan your day. You will be pleasantly surprised at how productive doing this can make you.
2. Limit your screen time earlier in the day
Try to spend the first hour or two of the day without looking at your phone, tablet, computer, or television screen. Instead, use that time to take care of yourself and get in the groove for work. So, take a shower, have some coffee, go for a run, take the dog out for a walk. If you still have an hour or so after getting this done, hang out with your partner or your kids for a while.
Doing this is a great way to get your mind to focus on what is to come. You will be more excited to take on the day’s work. Plus, if you are on lockdown at home, this is actually good for your mental health.
3. Keep a planner
This might not be for everyone, but a planner is a great way to maintain a routine. And as a working parent, you already know how essential routines can be.
When you are working from home, the day seems like a free-for-all. Being able to do whatever you want whenever you want is a blessing and a curse at the same time. A planner can help you start to carve out a routine and maintain your sanity.
Outline the tasks you absolutely have to complete every day, the people you need to reach out to (professionally and personally), and home duties you need to take care of, such as chores that need to get done and what the kids need to accomplish by the end of the day.
4. Dedicate a space of your home for work
One great trick that’ll help boost your productivity is replicating your usual office environment at home. If you are used to working in a formal space, assembling a ‘home-office’ space will trick your mind into thinking you are still at the office, boosting your productivity levels.
You can do this by setting up your home desk exactly as your office desk is set up. When you sit down, your brain will go into ‘work mode’ and you will end up getting quite a lot done.
Just be sure to make your workspace sacred. Do not let anyone; especially the kids; use it for any other purpose. It should be a dedicated workspace and nothing else.
5. Stay connected with your colleagues
One of the things that has taken a major beating with this pandemic is social life. When working remotely, it is practically non-existent. You can bring some semblance of it back in your life by reaching out to your colleagues through video calling, phone calls, and messaging.
Even a simple conversation can do wonders for your productivity. It will reduce your sense of isolation and loneliness and might even help get you back into ‘work mode’. So, whenever you just need to catch up with your colleagues, or you need some help with work-related stuff, do not hesitate to reach out to them. They might need to hear from you just as much as you do.
6. Keep things professional
If you are now holding online meetings for work, make sure they are held at times that are convenient for everyone involved. Your colleagues could be in different time zones, so they may not be available all the time. Always schedule all online meetings beforehand.
At the same time, you also need to set your own timing. Do not make yourself available round the clock, because this will take a toll on your personal life and overall productivity.
Other things you have to consider when keeping things professional include working in your pajamas and working from your bed or couch. Dressing presentably every morning will not only put you in ‘work mode’, it will also save you the hassle of running to get ready whenever an impromptu video meeting comes up. The same goes for working on your bed or couch. Get an office chair and a desk instead.
7. Be strict with your schedule
Working from home brings with it a level of freedom that few people are used to. With COVID-19 shaking things up, a lot of people fear their productivity will be heavily impacted.
However, there is an easy solution for this: create a schedule and stick to it. This will make you feel like you are at work, and you will end up being more productive.
If you have a problem with distractions, try faking it till you make it. Wake up as you normally would, get dressed, and make sure you are in your office space by the same time you normally get to work. Maintain the same work hours you had. You will be surprised at how fast your brain will get back into ‘work-mode.’
8. Maintain a healthy work-life balance
With the kids at home and no clear work structure, it is now easier than ever to forget that you have a job. This is why a proper work-life balance is now more important than ever before.
Consider planning out your day in terms of chores you have to do, stuff you have to do for your kids, and work. Carve out a portion of your day towards their education or entertainment, another for the house chores, and the final portion for being productive at work.
With the coronavirus, daycares and playgroups are out of the question. So, you have to get creative with their care while at the same time making sure that your work is not adversely affected.
The last few months have changed the world drastically. It is easy to feel panicked or depressed about the situation, and it is completely normal to be afraid of what the future holds.
However, it is important to remember that life will still go on after the coronavirus, just as it is still going on today. Sure, there may be a few changes in your life, but if you take it all in your stride, you’ll come out the other side being more resilient than ever.
Therefore, as you work from home, try to appreciate the positives of working remotely. You don’t have to deal with traffic or office drama, you have full control over your schedule, and you get to spend more time at home with the kids. Immerse yourself into your work and you’ll get through this. Good luck!