It’s no secret that COVID-19 has changed us all. Some changes are easily identifiable. Others will reveal themselves as time goes on. Several are temporary while others will be permanent. Regardless of when we recognize the changes or how long they last, personally and professionally, we will never be the same.
Many encountered professional changes very early on in the pandemic when they found themselves working from home instead of going into the office. According to a Pew Research Center study, roughly 71% of adult Americans workers currently do their jobs from home. Of all employed adults surveyed, 54% said they want to work from home even when the pandemic is done.
Today (and likely tomorrow), remote work is much closer to the rule than to the exception.
Now, a year into the pandemic, is a great time to evaluate how productive you are working from home. Have you maintained a conducive work environment? Do you still operate around a beneficial routine? Evaluate how working from home has worked for you by considering these five pivotal points to a perfectly productive day.
Productivity can be driven by accountability. Being responsible for tasks is one thing. Being responsible for tasks for which others will hold you accountable is another.
The goal is not to create an environment in which you feel micromanaged. The driving force behind open, consistent, and transparent communication on projects is to facilitate a team environment. With a culture that communicates frequently, all team members are aware of the progress on projects. It can help spur you towards accomplishing jobs in a timely fashion.
Clearly communicating with teams leads towards everyone having a better understanding of their role in the group. This sense of purpose often strengthens productivity. Conversations can spark more efficient ways to complete the task. Open communication also provides the opportunity for team members to pitch in and lend a hand when needed.
The tools are out there. Office chat channels like Slack and video meeting platforms like Zoom provide excellent methods to stay in touch with your team members. Are you using them frequently, openly, and productively?
We wear many hats in life. Employee/Employer, spouse/partner, parent, son/daughter, sibling… the list goes on. When we try to several of the hats at once, we can feel overwhelmed and end up spreading ourselves thin.
Trying to fulfill more than one role at once can lead us to being counter-productive. We likely will not finish the task we aimed to do. Also, we decreased the time we could have spent on another.
If you have more than one job to do and the deadlines coincide, consider resources in your life you can use to help you accomplish everything on your “to do” list. When you feel as though your productivity is suffering, who can you reach out to for help? Is there a family member that can help with a chore at home? Are there co-workers who can contribute to a task to get it done quicker? As a supervisor, is there a job you do that might be a wonderful development opportunity for someone you oversee?
Whether out of habit or even pride, sometimes we try to take on too much. Delegating a little can make a huge difference.
Sometimes, it’s all about timing. We start a project. We spend time trying to focus, and … it just isn’t working.
Guess what. That’s fine.
Forcing yourself to do a task that is far from your current frame of mind can work against your productivity.
Reordering your work projects may help you accomplish them all quicker. Move the jobs that can be done quickly to the front of the line. The momentum you feel after completing those can help you steamroll into the more challenging ones. Before you know it, you knock them out with more power and confidence and determination.
As an alternative, move your least preferred task to the top of the list. Having that finished, you no longer have the dread of it hovering over you which may slow down your productive day.
Either way, the relief you feel with items checked off your list can let you dive into other tasks without distractions.
Speaking of being distracted, what’s keeping you from focusing?
Moments of peace and quiet come few and far between. To achieve ultimate productivity, customize your work environment to best suit you. Some people work well with background noise of music or a television. Others find those draw away their attention.
Then, there’s your phone. With notifications from Facebook to CNN to text messages to Instagram to LinkedIn to Candy Crush, it can definitely pull your focus. Options including adjusting your notification settings, putting it in airplane mode, or placing it in a drawer.
Even well-meaning, friendly co-workers can create distractions through conversations that aren’t necessarily contributing towards the accomplishment of a job. If in a traditional office setting, closing your office door just for an hour or two can help you work through projects uninterrupted. For those heavily using chat channels, set a “do not disturb” status. Even closing your email (perhaps with an auto-reply) can let you focus on the priority project.
Getting sidetracked is avoidable with these few “boundary-setting” actions.
Whether completing the entire project or accomplishing milestones along the way, plan rewards for yourself. An afternoon coffee, a sweet treat, a walk around the block, one round of Candy Crush (can you tell I have a habit?)…
Work in breaks or treats that help rest your mind and re-energize your spirit for the next tasks that lie ahead.
Also, think of the same for those you lead. As a parent and/or supervisor at work, consider what motivates those you are trying to encourage to be productive. Always remember, what motivates you may not motivate them. You’re more likely to keep them encouraged and on task when you have built in rewards (that they appreciate) as they make progress towards their goals.
Investing in and rewarding yourself and others will help productivity soar.
When it comes to being productive, some days are easier than others. With the above points in place, even the challenging days can be more doable, and you’ll be proud of your productivity!