March 30, 2020

According to millennials, acronyms are trendy and using them appropriately is a sign that you belong to the “cool club.” These days, the most fashionable acronym of 2020 is WFH, unequivocally overtaking the most overused acronym of 2019, YOLO. Thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, everyone’s WFH (working from home)—which may or may not be a blessing in disguise. While staying at home flattens the curve, this prolonged reclusiveness could be detrimental to our emotional well-being in the long run.

But seclusion has its benefits like giving us the breathing space to augment our mental capacities. William Shakespeare used social distancing to his advantage and produced some of his most phenomenal work during the bubonic plague. After he lost his job as an actor, he spent his time wisely and wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra within a year—proving that isolation (if done right) can make one even more productive. If you are still adjusting to this office-free situation, here are seven tips to help you WFH more effectively.

Keep Your Home Neat and Uncluttered

Working from home under the impediment of the dreaded coronavirus translates to the need to find conducive spots to communicate remotely with people. While video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom are handy in times like these, the downside is that we’re exposing our private space (and things we would rather keep hidden) to the eyes of outsiders. In order to appear professional, it is important to take the work calls preferably being seated on a desk, with nothing too distracting in the background. No one wants to see your week’s worth of dirty laundry lying around in a pile of mess.

Get Appropriately Dressed for the Day

There is no excuse to look like a hobo even if you don’t have physical contact with the outside world. Don’t tumble out of bed and start your laptop immediately. Instead, go about your normal routine. Wearing a blazer may be going overboard, but it’s still important to dress for success. Avoid any ill-fitting clothing or loungewear. British designer Jonathan Anderson has released the perfect pair of house shoes that can elevate your WFH outfit to stylish new heights. Trust me, your feet will thank you later.

Avoid the Bed

Unless you happen to be F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was most productive lying in bed and working, find a space far away from your bed to work. If you need a change in scenery, move to the dining room or your living room sofa. If all else fails, head to the nearest cafe with good WiFi—it just might give you that extra burst of creativity to refine your pitch.

Be Readily Available and Communicate Frequently

The key to working productively from home is to keep the lines of communication open. Provide your boss and team members with frequent updates on your work in progress and completed tasks through Slack. Always make sure that you are available just in case your boss wants to jump on a last-minute Zoom call. If you’re planning to take a lunch break, politely inform everyone, so that they are aware of your delayed responses.

Set Goals to Help Yourself Focus

It is paramount to be disciplined as temptations like the delicious cupcakes in the fridge or binging on another episode of Crash Landing on You, are plentiful. In order to keep your focus strong, set goals and write down a daily to-do list of tasks. Even though you are no longer bound by the confines of a 9-6 schedule, it is good to have a consistent timetable where you can demarcate clear slots for both work and play. Many have sworn by Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique, a time management system that helps you complete your tasks by creating 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks in between.

Block Out All Distractions

The WFH situation makes it easy for us to get distracted by our surroundings. To minimise disturbances, we need to reconsider our relationship with social media. Although taking a breather from work can significantly increase productivity, do limit your social media usage so that it does not become an obsession. Apps such as StayFocusd can help to stay you on track by restricting access to time-wasting websites once the allotted limit has been reached. 

Set Boundaries With People at Home

Unless you’re living on your own, it is important to set clear boundaries with the people around you. Be sure to inform family members or children that you need to remain undisturbed during certain hours. If need be, lock your door and put up a sign to show that you mean business. Avoiding any peripheral interruptions is imperative to maximum productivity—and that includes blasting Spotify playlists at maximum volume. Do, however, let your loved ones know that you will be available after hours to spend quality time together. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.