How to boost your productivity whilst working from home

Remote working is not a new concept. However the conditions in which most of us now find ourselves working under right now IS. Working remotely during a crisis means having to adapt to change that is fast-paced, new and unprecedented. The reality is that we are not working remotely; we are working from home during a crisis and the principles and models available to us about remote working do not apply in the same context. If in addition to coping with work during a lockdown, you are also having to juggle personal circumstances (such as childcare), you need to adopt critical strategies to manage your productivity as well as your wellbeing.

Productivity is not about being efficient or busy as most people may think; productivity is about focusing on the right things – where your contribution adds the most value. In order to do that you need to address three key areas of managing your productivity; (i) your energy, (ii) your attention and (iii) your time.

Managing your energy

Consider two elements of managing your energy: (a) the most important – taking good care of yourself (staying active, eating well, drinking water and taking breaks from your screen) and (b) understanding your motivators and drivers (see Dan Pink, When) so that you are focusing your energy on what brings you the most joy and is therefore most rewarding. At this moment, because individuals are having to work from home, it is important to set clear boundaries that allow you to divide your space and energy so that you can balance your work/life priorities effectively.

Managing your attention

Staying focused can be challenging at most of times, and where in the past working from home may have allowed individuals to minimize the distractions encountered in the office, at this moment we find that home distractions have become even greater obstacles for managing our attention. It is important to adopt an open and flexible approach to managing distractions and finding ways to mitigate them. Adopting techniques that allow you to focus for short periods of time on one task only may prove more effective in managing your attention than ‘multitasking’ (see David Crenshaw, Myth of Multitasking).

Managing your time

Not having to commute to an office location means most people end up actually working longer days with shorter breaks. Nonetheless being busy and working longer does not equal better work output, but it can in the long run equal burnout. To manage your time efficiently and productively, consider your prioritisation techniques and look at analysing your tasks to adopt the ‘most valuable activity’ mindset – where you spend your time working on the things that actually benefit from your input rather than the things that keep you busy and distract you. View time as a currency, where you are investing in the activities that bring the best return – for you (personally and professionally).

Despite the challenges, remote does not mean isolated, and although we are physically distancing, we have and continue to experience the great power of our digital collaborative capacity. We are and can continue to be more connected than ever, and at a time of crisis our resilience and creativity peaks in unprecedented ways. The beauty of compassion, empathy and support networks create the opportunity for us to become better version of ourselves and that can be a great silver lining of our new normal.

Leticia Corbisier de Meaultsart, Aretai LLP

April 2020

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