6 tips for staying productive at home

Woman typing on laptop beside window in the evening

The Circuit Breaker may have come to an end in Singapore, but for the most of us, we continue to work from home.

Depending on our circumstances, some of us have thrived during this period; some of us have struggled with family and work; and many of us have fared somewhere in between.

Here are a few strategies that helped us here at Tueetor, that we thought might help you as well.

1. Have a regular schedule

People who have been hotdesking or working remotely before the Covid-19 only know this too well: There are a million things at home that can distract us: food, television, household chores, young children (or fur kids). It can be harder to stay focused when working from home.

While our regular video conferences with colleagues help impose some order on our workday, it can still be easy for us to slack off into disorder outside of these meetings.

To keep our productivity up, we need to keep up our work rhythms.

This means keeping basic discipline: regular wake-up and breakfast times, even on days when there are no video conferences scheduled. As far as possible, all items on our task lists should be mapped to a slot on our schedulers, rather than just a deadline.

2. Be aware of your energy states

Besides managing our time, another way to organise our day is to manage our energy. Just like time, all of us only have a finite amount of energy to work with each day.

A standard advice for personal productivity is to do one’s most important task at the start of the day. We should not work on important tasks when we have already depleted our energy.

For example, as many of us are now aware, video calls take a lot of our energy. Instead of tackling difficult tasks right after a long Zoom conference, we should take a break instead.

3. Maintain a cadence

We’ve all heard advice that frequent breaks help us be more productive when we do sit down at our desks. This productivity tip is true and worthy of all acceptance, but we have a different take on it: A productive day is one where we maintain a cadence of work, not one where we spend a maximum amount to time at the computer.

Our best work is done in spurts, not in long continuous hours. Just like physical exercise, we perform better by planning blocks of activity time between periods of rest. This is far better than forcing ourselves to sit down, denying ourselves the permission to get up until we reach a milestone.

I love my "work from home" co-workers. // Hannah Hillam for BuzzFeed Comics

Posted by BuzzFeed Animals on Tuesday, January 17, 2017

4.      Work in time for hobbies and learning

While working from home, it’s tempting to double down on our work to compensate for the loss of productivity. This can be counterproductive; we need to maintain our energy levels.

Try to schedule some activities other than work. For example, working from home is the perfect opportunity to get some e-learning done. It’s not necessary to tackle some long, ambitious course. Just 15 minutes of video every day is enough to introduce some variety into our daily activities, and keep us productive while looking at the screen.

Alternatively, you could pick up a new hobby, or continue one you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time: Dust off that half-completed model kit on your shelf; grow a new house plant or two. Learn to play the guitar. Many of the trainers on the Tueetor platform now offer online classes; you can check them out simply by typing “online” in the search.

5. Have a shutdown ritual

Set a time to end your workday and stick to it. This will prevent you from losing your daily rhythms and the sense of time.

You can end your day in several ways: review your work done for the day, write out tomorrow’s to-do list, or complete 15 minutes of e-learning, as we just mentioned above.

Photo of tea, a watch and reading materials

6. Go easy on yourself

Before entering the Circuit Breaker period, some of us may have imagined about the possibilities of working from home, and all the time saved from not having to commute that we could put into better use.

The reality has probably been very different.

Rather than beat up ourselves for not achieving our personal and professional goals, we should appreciate the opportunity we had for learning more about ourselves and how we responded to these unusual times.

Make it a point to check in with your friends and colleagues regularly, to keep your social contacts warm. Notice how all our circumstances have been different. Be thankful for the small pleasures of life, the challenges that our friends had to face that we did not.