In May 2020, 42% of Americans aged 20-64 earning more than $20,000 were working from home full-time, according to a Stanford University survey – which equates to more than two-thirds of US economic activity. That’s compared to just 2% working full-time from home before the pandemic.
This brings into question the impact of work from home on productivity. According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2020, “78% of business leaders think that working from home or remote work will have a negative impact on productivity.”
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What hurts productivity during remote work?
According to the report, three factors are a major cause for the negative impact on productivity while working remotely:
- The switch to remote working is occurring during a period of additional stress caused by the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Those looking after children are faced with additional pressures – needing to take on more unpaid care work due to changeable school and nursery arrangements.
- Newly remote-working companies are still establishing a sense of community and ensuring a flow of communication in the post-lockdown world of work.
Ensuring the well-being of yourself or your team members, while simultaneously trying to stay focused and be productive can be a behemoth of a task. Here are a few ways you can make sure you’re being productive to the best of your abilities:
Fill Up Your Calendar Data📆
Years of evolution now require us to have every aspect of our lives dictated and predictable. Naturally, the pandemic has been a confusing time for all of us and the uncertainty it brings with it can make a few of us have fits of anxiety. This is a huge bummer for productivity. What is, then, the recipe to maximize productivity while avoiding burnout? Fill in every opening in your calendar. Know when you’re going to have your meetings, when you’re going to work on your projects, and even when you’re going to eat. Have something to do every second.
Colour-code blocks of the day when you’re most detail-oriented and productive (for heads-down work) when you’re most social (for meetings), and time to learn something new (for reading and podcasts).
To know more about how to effectively manage your calendar check out our other blog: Effective Calendar Management and Scheduling Tips
Make Time For Communication🧏♀️
According to David Torgerson, Senior Director of Engineering, Lucid,
“One thing that I noticed was really affecting my team’s productivity and creativity after we made the move to work from home, was the absence of ‘watering hole banter’ or desk discussions that often led to great ideas.”
Our ability to communicate is what sets us apart from other organizations. Communication is what has given birth to the most interesting ideas and innovations. If you’re stuck in a loop constantly working without any contact with the outside world your creativity is bound to run dry soon enough.
And now that we have less face-to-face interaction, we should discover even more ways to communicate. Meetings every day are beneficial for building relationships and provide an opportunity to apply peer pressure if you’re having trouble getting things done at home.
Implement Productivity Apps and Methods🤳
Working remotely every day can make you feel like everything is just blurring together. You are either juggling projects all day and working in the evenings, or being distracted by an endless stream of tempting chatter, TV, calls, and Slack messages. This is where productivity apps and methods.
Time blocking is one such method. It is a time management technique in which you divide your day into time blocks. Each block is dedicated to completing a single task, or a combination of tasks, and nothing else. You’ll start each day with a specific timetable that spells out what you’ll work on and when rather than an open-ended to-do list of items you’ll get to as you have time.
Another is the Pomodoro method. It is a very specific way to organize your time. You start a task, set a timer for 25 minutes, and when the alarm goes off, you take a 5-minute break. After doing four of these, you take a break for half an hour.
TimeBoxing is also an amazing productivity method. You can learn about it here on our blog: TimeBoxing 101: Powerful Tool for Amplifying Your Productivity
Minimize Distractions 🧨
Multitasking and distraction are the biggest enemies of productivity. The key ingredient to maintaining productivity during lockdowns is minimizing the different types of distractions that pop up every second. These include interruptions from others and interruptions from incessant group chats on Slack or Basecamp, online articles, and news feeds.
The secret fix is organization. Simply inform your coworkers, friends, or family members that you’d like to prevent being distracted from your work and arrange a specific time of day for catching up with chats. This approach can be applied for checking your news feed and articles too.
Moreover, you can customize your phone to receive only specific messages and emails during your work time. Declutter your phone every once in a while off the hundreds of rarely used or downright useless apps that plague it and keep notorious timewasters like Facebook and Twitter on the last page where they are unlikely to tempt you.
Organize Your Communication📢
This can be achieved with two different methods. Firstly, communicate clearly and unambiguously. This is always vital, but it is especially so now because you don’t have the opportunity to simply turn to your coworker and ask a question. If something needs to be done, make a direct request and provide explicit instructions. Agree on the terminology and use it consistently throughout your discussions. This is an excellent way to deal with frustration.
Secondly, choose fewer communication channels. There are many different communication channels to choose from, and you should establish ground rules for which ones to use and how to utilize them. The more channels you employ, the more convoluted the situation becomes. Here at TimeTackle, we stick to Slack for communication and Monday.com to assign and keep track of tasks.
Create a Schedule for Checking Your Email📧
Emails are the foe of productivity. An average office worker receives around 100 separate emails a day. That is a ton of energy and time! Emails can be incredibly habit-forming as well because they provide something called variable rewards or, in everyday language, surprises. Because you never know what will show up in your inbox, you’re motivated to keep checking it.
Sorting your emails into two separate piles is an effective way of breaking that habit. Saves emails that require a response on the same day in a folder labeled “Today.” Messages that only require a response that week are placed in a separate folder. Complete the first set on the same day and schedule a weekly date to complete the second set. That way there are fewer emails to deal with every day.
Prioritize Your Mental Health🧠
The onset of the pandemic has unwillingly made us all a part of a rat’s race to be more productive. According to the United States’s Labour Productivity Growth data, towards the beginning of 2020, there was a sharp increase in productivity. Not only did the pandemic not affect productivity, but it was also the highest it had been in the past few years. But during the same time period, a study in the UK revealed levels of stress, anxiety, and depression were all higher than expected between March and April 2020, when the country first went into lockdown. Mental distress was 8.1% higher in April 2020 than it was between 2017 and 2019. Adults living with children were more likely to report worse mental health than adults living without children, two studies showed.
That is how ingrained the hustle culture is within us. Even while the entire world was in the middle of a pandemic we were more concerned with being productive. Take a break when your body demands it. Don’t ever overstep the time you have allotted for work. Switch off your computer when you’ve finished your job for the day. There is no need to babysit the work because it will not run away.
Start with the Most Important Task📃
The first thing Ernest Hemingway did each morning after waking up was writing.
He described his daily routine as such, “When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.”
At the core of productivity is getting important things done consistently. And there are just a few things that are actually crucial, regardless of how many things you are working on. People frequently overburden their to-do lists and set themselves up for failure. Don’t let your to-do list get out of hand. Instead, pick one job that will have the most immediate influence on your life and break it down into smaller chunks.
You’ll always get something important done if you do the most important thing first each day.
How to Stay Productive During Covid-19 with TimeTackle💪
Keeping track of how your or your team utilizes its time while you are all locked away at home can be a real mind-bender. To effectively track events and tasks on your personal or team Google Calendar, you need to use some sort of a browser plugin or time tracking tool.
TimeTackle is a time tracker which allows you and your team to measure your time spent on tasks in real-time and analyze whether you’ve achieved the goals you intend to. You can easily manage multiple calendars from one calendar directly. That way you and your team will be able to track hours spent efficiently.
What makes TimeTackle special is that it caters to all types of users’ time management needs. You can use TimeTackle’s automated Google Calendar to MS Excel, Google Sheets, or CVS exporter and generate custom reports that give you a hand in monitoring attendance, keeping track of billable hours, simple reporting, and analyzing purposes, or simply building a basic database.
To know more about TimeTackle’s features and how you can get the most out of them visit the link: TimeTackle Features
The pandemic has been a challenging time for all of us. The world we knew has changed and the change has brought with it the good and bad. A little kindness and empathy to those around you can go a long way to ending this fight. Stay productive and keep grinding.