Are you having a hard time staying productive while confined to the barriers of your own home? In this article I will discuss how to create a new routine that rejects negativity and promotes productivity in your living space.
For those of you who are working from home for the first time in your life, this change of pace is a massive adjustment in your life that is not to be taken lightly by you or your company. For those of you who are stay at home parents, between jobs, or used to working from home- this concept might be a little more familiar to you, however never before have you been unable to carry out other essential parts of your day. Gyms and coffee shops are closed, homes are becoming learning spaces for children, and interaction with the outside world has transitioned from a part of our daily life to strictly a means of survival. So how do we adjust to a reality like this?
I am going to break this article into two separate parts. I will begin by addressing the basics self care needs we must maintain in order to feel our best self, and a few tips and tricks that will make a large difference in your every day routine. I will then address the secret weapons to productivity and how the way we re-direct our thinking, lay out to-do lists, and create routines is essential to our ability to produce results.
DAILY ESSENTIALS FOR A FEEL GOOD DAY:
Make your bed. This one is obvious, but we know we have to do it. Allow the very first thing you do every morning to be making your bed. Your room instantly looks more put together, and you have automatically completed one task. Just like that. Do it!
Wash your face! Washing your face will help you feel clean and is a great way to wake yourself up in the morning. Wash with warm water, cool with cold, pat dry!
Change out of your pajamas. Not having to get dressed in work clothes rocks, but staying in your pajamas all day is toxic. Even changing into clean lounge clothes can help you feel more put together. Throw on a scarf or a watch if you are feeling extra- these simple additives can help you feel significantly more awake and presentable.
Wear sneakers around the house. Not a shoes in the house person? Spend a day throwing them in the wash or wiping them down with lysol wipes (you should really do this either way, COVID-19!) Going barefoot is comfy cozy but will allow you to drag your feet. If you want to push yourself to workout during the day you can even try putting on a workout outfit when you get dressed in the morning. It will remind you of this goal throughout the day.
Create a work space in your house. Do NOT work from bed. Although it is tempting, it is incredibly important to separate work life from where you sleep and relax. If you don’t have a desk or kitchen table in your apartment to work at, create a cozy corner on the floor with pillows, a blanket, a plant, and some candles. Comfy is okay, working where you sleep is not.
Make phone and FaceTime calls throughout the day. Ring up co-workers instead of only communicating via IM. IM has a longer turn around time on responses and also leaves room for miscomunication. In addition to this, human interaction is important! You need to see others faces and hear others voices throughout the day. Call friends and family members. Ask a friend to have lunch with you over facetime. Even if you are used to WFH, you may be used to walking dogs with your neighbor in the morning, exchanging smiles with a barista at Starbucks, or consulting with a trainer at the gym. Keep these human interactions consistent.
Okay so now that we have discussed some small lifestyle tricks that will make a big difference, lets talk about routines and productive tasks.
Efficient Ways To Create a To-Do List or Carry Out a Routine:
Replace old routines with new ones substitution style. This new 24/7 at home day we are trying to adjust to is daunting. For those of you who are used to a routine that has been uprooted, make a plan to substitute each part of your old routine with a new one. For example if your routine is to get up, make breakfast, and walk to the train station, go for a walk around your block instead. If is part of your routine to grab lunch with the same friend or co-worker every day at 1pm, get on facetime with that friend every afternoon while you eat your salad. If you can and believe it would be beneficial to you (it will) wake up and go to sleep at the same time you usually would, or adjust it accordingly in the same hourly ratio to when you start and finish work each day.
If you struggle with sticking to a routine try the build up method. Making a routine is easier said than done, and when you slip up early into your routine it is easy to get down on yourself. Instead of putting together a full routine for yourself try starting in baby steps. Start by picking a time to wake up every morning consistently- and one productive activity to start the day. Whether it be to read for 30 minutes, do a YouTube yoga routine, or do one full journal entry. Once you have that down for a few consistent days, add a second productive activity. This can be consistent with a project you have around the house you work on each day like painting a room or organizing family photos — or it can be to work on paying bills for an hour starting at the same time every day. Building this up over time will make each task more effective and will be less daunting.
Two tasks at a time. When making a to-do list, try working two tasks at a time. Start with the task that you cannot stop thinking about. Whether this be ordering a new pair of sneakers or starting a big project your boss assigned, pick the one you feel will be able to focus on the most efficiently. If you make a list of 5 things to do, but you can’t stop thinking about 5 while you are trying to complete 2, 3, & 4- this is inefficient. Once you have picked your first task, gather whatever tangible tools you need to complete this task if any. Now decide, what is your input, and what is your desired output? What do you plan on doing, and what do you hope for the end result to be? Once this is decided, choose what task you will be able to begin once you complete this one. Do not skip numerous steps ahead. 2 at a time!
Re-directing our thoughts. When making a to-do list it is easy for our minds to hyper-focus on all of the things we keep meaning to get to and somehow don’t- or the things that we have made minimal progress on. In order to feel efficient and productive we must practice re-directing these thoughts to tasks that we have started and are almost finished with — or tasks that are valuable to us but quick to complete. Once we have closed the loop on all of those achievable yet unfinished tasks we can start looking at bigger projects.
Look at projects as a collection of small do-able actions, rather than one large scale task. It is okay to start things and come back to them. Often times people will avoid starting projects they have been dying to complete because they feel it is not the right time or they do not have access to the right support, funds, etc. Looking at projects as a collection of small tasks allows you to take them one step at a time, and break down the overwhelming feeling of their severity. Every time you work through one small step you are that much closer to succeeding the daunting project