The global COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world into serious disarray across all sorts of different dimensions, and it seems that – even as lockdown restrictions relax around the world – there will be some long-term changes in place.
One thing that many people are now discovering is that their jobs are inevitably going to involve a lot more “telecommuting.”
While working from home has long been a dream for many people, it involves a specific way of doing things, and requires the right approach if it’s going to be handled productively and sustainably.
Here are just a few bits of advice to set you on the right course with working from home, so that you don’t fall into the all-too-common traps of chronic procrastination, distraction, and more.
Optimize and schedule according to your energy levels
When working from home, it’s essential that you keep broadly regular working hours – not least of all so that you can be contactable by your employers, clients, et cetera.
All the same, though, it’s equally as important to optimize and schedule according to your energy levels – as opposed to trying to force yourself to stick to an arbitrary routine that “feels reasonable” but that causes you to drag your feet and chronically underperform.
Figure out which times of day you’re typically the most energized and focused during – and try to do your most demanding work during those periods.
Keep in mind, also, that it’s common to find that your energy levels are falling if you are spending a lot of time indoors by yourself. Pay real attention to figuring out ways of boosting your energy levels in order to compensate – whether that means eating a certain diet, practicing intermittent fasting, or going for regular walks outside (something you should be doing anyway.)
Work in sprints to maintain momentum and minimize distraction
In a conventional office environment, your capacity to dramatically procrastinate and veer off-track from the work at hand, is limited by the fact that you will have people keeping an eye on you and literally looking over your shoulder, throughout the day.
When you’re working from home, though, there is not a lot to keep you from wasting hours surfing the web if that’s what you allow yourself to end up doing.
One of the most effective ways of ensuring that you can power through your work without yielding to distraction is to work in “sprints” using a system such as the Pomodoro method – which involves working for 25 minutes, then taking a five-minute break, and repeating.
Among other things, working this way helps to generate a sense of urgency while also keeping you looking forward to the next mini-break.
Find accountability mechanisms to keep you on track
Accountability is essential when it comes to ensuring productivity and keeping you focused on the task at hand.
Accountability is naturally going to be lower when you’re working from home, unsupervised. So, it’s important that you come up with your own accountability mechanisms to compensate.
This could be as simple as having a friend, co-worker or relative who can regularly check up on you – or it could involve something a bit more nuanced, like using a “commitment contract” service such as StickK.