This is part of a series from the health coaches at Cambia’s Lifelong Well-being team who share how to move beyond wellness to well-being. It starts with empowering people toward life balance—focusing on health status and risk factors, personal circumstances in life and career, and their unique needs—through the lens of the following pillars: optimal health, resilience, physical wellness and emotional health.
With the transition to working from home and disruption of normal working routines this year, many are struggling with keeping productive and avoiding restlessness. Below are a few tips to stay productive in work and in life during this time of isolation.
- Do One Thing at a Time: In a world built for multitasking and distraction, feeling overwhelmed with a seemingly endless number of tasks both for work and personal lives is common. Consider the old proverb goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Despite popular believe, multitasking is not the ideal way to perform tasks and it is better and more productive to focus on one task at a time. Make a list at the end of each day of the top 3-5 tasks you must do the following day. Start your workday with the first task and work through your list in order of importance. Give it a try and watch your productivity skyrocket.
- Batch your Emails: Emails can be a major source of distraction throughout the day constantly pulling time and attention away from other tasks. Experiment with setting a few dedicated blocks of time throughout your day (15-20 minutes each) to read through and respond to email. Turn off alert notifications so you won’t be distracted with email pop-ups or notifications. Inform your boss and coworkers of your new system and explain to them how it will make you more productive and when to expect replies to inquiries throughout the day.
- Experiment with your work/break schedule: View this time at home as an opportunity to experiment with different work to break ratios. Some suggestions include working continuously for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break or playing with longer intervals like 50 minutes of work to 10 minutes of break time. Set a timer to keep yourself accountable and see which variation works best for you. Use your break time to walk, stretch and get your body moving!
- Keep a “Distraction to-do list”: When something you want/need to do crosses your mind during a work session (Checking the weather forecast, texting a friend, seeing who voiced your favorite cartoon character from your childhood), instead of breaking off to do it right away (which will interrupt your flow and invariably turn into a rabbit hole), write it down on a “distraction to-do list”, then get right back to work. Once your break time arrives, you can go back over your list and attend to its entries. You’ll be surprised at how things that felt so urgent at the time could wait a half hour to be addressed.
- Block distracting Websites/Apps Automatically: To minimize the temptation to interrupt your work sessions by surfing around the web, put blocking software on your computer and phone. There are several apps out there that work both as a timer and blocks all your distracting websites during a work session, such as “Strict Workflow” for Chrome. (Note: Please check with your employer before installing any software on a company computer).
- Keep working past break time if you get in the “flow”: While you should always work for at least the length of time you’ve scheduled, if you find you’ve gotten into the flow and are on a roll, don’t force yourself to break off from what you’re doing. Keep on tapping the vein of productivity as long as it lasts and then take your break.
Working remotely may be a new experience for you, and brings great opportunity to be your own scientist and experiment with finding the best working schedule and productivity practices for you!