After the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in 2020, Working From Home (WFH) has been the new norm for some time now. As of this article’s release, WFH is still the default and we understand if you are starting to feel it getting tedious and monotonous. You are looking to prevent yourself from a “WFH burnout” and want to maintain your workflow. Here are 7 ways we hope will help to boost your productivity while WFH:
1. Set Up a Schedule
Typically, your home environment is designed to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. While that is normally desirable, we don’t want to get too comfortable while WFH. WFH may come with many distractions, so discipline is very crucial to prevent such interferences and maintain our productivity. The first step to take is to set up a work schedule, by every hour or half an hour, and stick to it. Here’s a template you may want to use from Nir and Far:
Procrastination is a major tormentor when WFH so setting up a schedule and sticking to it will really help. Remember that the hardest step is the first step, so whenever you feel unmotivated, start taking the small steps – Sit at your desk, skim your email, and open those Excel sheets. After a while, your workflow will come naturally and before you know it, you would have already completed multiple tasks. A good tip to note is to remember to schedule breaks in between your work schedule. This is to prevent overworking yourself, allowing yourself to refresh and recharge every so often.
Personally, the Pomodoro Technique is a simple and effective time management plan to follow. Another method I use to complement the Pomodoro Technique is to “plant a tree” in the Forest app, which prevents mobile usage and hence avoids distractions during the set duration. However, do note that Forest is a paid app and is not a necessity for using the Pomodoro Technique.
There are also multiple Pomodoro Technique videos to follow on Youtube if you are keen to try it out!
2. Have A Designated Workspace
With the purpose of minimising distractions, a great solution is to have a designated workspace. Preferably, your designated workspace should not be in the bedroom, but if it is not possible, then the best resolve is to set your workstation furthest away from your bed and definitely facing away. The reason for this is to prevent the constant temptation of lying down on your very soft bed. After WFH in your designated workspace, your mind sets a habit of getting into “work mode” whenever you are at your workspace which will greatly enhance your focus and hence, productivity.
Following the principles of The Habit Loop by Charles Duhigg, the idea here is to set a habit to trigger your mind to shift to “work mode”. To further enhance this habit, you can choose to add certain “cues” other than going to your workspace. Some may even go to the extent of dressing up while WFH to get into the zone (which may actually be effective!) but simple triggers such as maybe getting your favourite kopi-bing (iced coffee), logging into your work email, or opening up your notepad to start brainstorming, can work just as well. Just do whatever gets you going!
3. Make Sure to Go Outside
Personally, WFH makes me feel more lethargic than working at the office and this could be due to an increased screen time. Nevertheless, I always make it a point to spend at least an hour outside daily. After a whole day of WFH and getting into the zone, I sometimes find myself surprised at how quickly time moves and even occasionally skipping lunch unconsciously. Going outside – whether for a meal or for exercise or just to wander around, gives me the time to rejuvenate my overworked mind. You definitely deserve a good break after a long day of work, so go outside and feel the cool, fresh air, and take a breather!
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
If you have the typical Asian parent, you probably have been nagged at for sleeping and waking up late yet again. “Now what time already?? Still sleeping ah?!” As dreadful as these scoldings are, there is definitely some truth to it.
We recommend sleeping and waking up at regular timings. Sleeping and waking up earlier can also be very beneficial for oneself. If you are doubtful, there is no harm in trying to sleep and wake up earlier for a day or two and access for yourself the positive impacts on your mood, productivity, and general wellbeing.
Needless to say, our quality of sleep is also affected by how long our sleep is. In accordance with the Ministry of Health Singapore, the recommended amount is between 7-9 hours of sleep for adults. (Extra tip: HPB is offering rewards to Singaporeans who sleep more than 7 hours! Don’t say bojio!)
Having a night’s worth of rest definitely brings about many personal benefits. Even though it is easy to prioritise other things oversleep, remember that your personal health is extremely valuable and should not be exchangeable.
5. Set a Morning Routine
After a good night’s rest, how you start your day can greatly determine the rest of the day. Always start your day on a positive note, do things that make you feel good. I find starting my day with a glass of cold water invigorating and I get fully pumped up to start my day. Of course, personal hygiene is a given – brushing teeth, showering, “clearing my system”, etc. This makes me feel refreshed and encumbered, which is an enhancing boost for me. This routine also is linked to the habit loop mentioned in Point 2, to get your mind into “work mode” after it gets used to it.
For some inspiration, this post shows the morning routine of successful CEOs, notice that “waking up early after having a healthy amount of sleep” is a similarity among them, hence accentuating our previous point on the importance of sleep. Anyways, your morning routine should be tailored to your own needs, and feel free to do some small tweaks to your morning routine. The main gist of it is to find things that give you an additional boost, incorporate them into your morning routine and you will start feeling better, more motivated, which can really improve productivity.
6. Go Out and Meet Others
Humans are inherently social creatures. We are instinctively wired to thrive on interaction and communication with others. WFH has inevitably diminished physical human interaction, and whilst COVID-19 still persists, building relationships with others is still very necessary. While it is crucial to keep ourselves physically safe, your mental health should be equally important. COVID-19 has all taken a mental toll on us, so if you ever start to feel overworked or dull, and in need of a break, why not call your family and friends for a meal, catch up, and reconnect with one another. Of course, still abiding by respective social distancing regulations.
I have found that WFH has boosted my productivity for individual work, however, working on projects with other people has proven to be increasingly difficult without physical meetings. While WFH may be more convenient, it hinders effective communication between colleagues and associates. As such, it is key to also reconnect with the people we work with that we haven’t seen physically in a while. This will help to ensure that they remain in sync with you work-wise and are on the same page, hence improving your synergy and effectiveness in working together as a team.
WFH is a controversial topic. Some prefer it, some don’t. Nevertheless, our preference cannot change the current situation and it is what it is. The only thing we can change is our mindset in WFH and we can choose to accept it positively and push on from here. We hope that these methods that we have discussed will help you adapt better to the new normal and improve your working productivity. We hope all our readers stay safe!