Updated: September 7, 2021
This past year has been a dumpster fire. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected students, working professionals, and families. Schools and businesses have all been rocked by shut-downs, social distancing procedures, COVID-19 infections, changes in business processes, and COVID testing. We have gone from full lock-down to a cautious re-opening while infection rates continue to fluctuate.
In 2020 we offered the tips below to help maintain productivity while working or going to school during a pandemic. While some are resuming in-person work and studies, some are still working remotely.
Take a look below and see which of these 6 tips will be of benefit to you.
Considering COVID-19 shelter in place, the new reality for many people is working from home. This could be for a job or completing online school courses. With the right tools, you can keep a productive environment to accomplish your goals all while at home. These are the top 5 recommendations we have compiled so you are able to stay motivated and check off everything on your to-do list!
Find a dedicated spot where you can work without distractions. Sitting at a desk, table, or a countertop works best. Try to avoid places such as the couch or bed since those locations are usually meant for lounging or sleeping. It is best to save locations like your couch or bed for break times throughout your day when you want to lounge and relax. When you have a designated space at a desk, table, or countertop to work at, you will get a similar vibe to being in the office or in class.
If you cannot find a space that works for you, investing in an affordable desk to set up in your living room or bedroom can be beneficial to help you succeed. Here are some options if you are looking to buy a desk that won’t break your bank for your apartment or home.
Structure Your Day
Keeping your day structured and designating certain hours of when you will be working, studying and taking breaks helps keep you on task. Make a list of all the tasks you need to do, prioritize each item, set the time required to complete each item, figure out how much time is available to work on each item, and add it to your calendar. Commit to these times and set reminders for you to complete these tasks. Make sure to include important deadlines so you can be prepared in advance and know what to plan for. Google Calendar is a great resource to utilize – you can even plan your day out to the minute.
Multitasking throughout your day has been proven to be unproductive. Studies show that trying to do two things at once nearly always results in getting less done, poor performance, and frequent mistakes. This is because our brain is having to switch back and forth between the two tasks. As a result, your brain can confuse the two tasks being done at the same time.
A great productivity tip we suggest for planning out your day is “Time Batching”. This is when you focus all your energy on one task at a time. For instance, you could schedule 9AM-10PM strictly to return emails only, then 10AM-12PM to complete all your course work for Math class. Other ideas of things you can time batch into your schedule are brainstorming and goal setting, time with friends and family, and cleaning/organizing.
Get Ready for The Day
The biggest piece of advice is to pretend as if you are going into work because the mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive. Otherwise, you may find yourself getting back into bed or lounging at times. Taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and getting dressed in comfortable work clothes is one of the easiest ways to feel more energized and awake in the morning. Giving yourself some time to wake up and proceed how you normally would in the morning, starting off with your coffee and a healthy breakfast, will start your day on a positive productive note setting you up for a good day. Not sure what to wear? Some work from home options to wear that are comfortable are sweaters/T-shirts with jeans or a casual dress. For further inspiration, check out this blog post about Work from Home Outfit Ideas to get some inspiration of some outfits to have on hand.
Working from home brings in extra distractions such as items you may need to clean around the house, Netflix, and social media that all can deter you from accomplishing your goals for the day. It is important to focus and know yourself – some may find it helpful to listen to some music to tune out noise and some may find this distracting. Some other examples to help you resist temptation would be turning off your cell phone if your device is distracting, or using a website blocker if you find yourself surfing the internet while doing emails. Finding a strategy that works best for you to avoid getting distracted will help you boost your productivity.
A helpful tool to keep you on track would be to utilize a time cube. You can set the cube for a specific time you want to spend on completing a task and this will help you focus on what you are working on until the timer goes off. Here is an example of an affordable time cube from Amazon.
Working from home cuts down on commute time and can give you more time to be productive, but it can also make you lethargic if you let it. As a result, you may feel less motivated to be productive for the tasks you have at hand. Most likely you have noticed that your daily steps are far fewer than usual, which makes it important to set aside movement in your schedule to perform at your optimal peak. Movement such as stretching, yoga, or online exercises are some great options when you are stuck indoors. There are many free classes on YouTube or apps that will get you moving in no time! Check out the Tone It Up website for free workout classes and for some great fitness inspiration!
Eating healthy is important to prevent feeling sluggish and tired working from home. Eating away from your desk and having a scheduled time that you eat will also be crucial in preventing mindless snacking throughout your day. Having breakfast before starting to work such as warm oatmeal with nut butter and fruit or avocado, eggs, and whole grain toast will keep you full and your blood sugar balanced.
If you find yourself still mindlessly snacking check in with yourself to see if you are eating because you are hungry or just bored, stressed, annoyed or lonely. Acknowledge your emotion and reach for some water to stay hydrated. When it is a hunger and not procrastination or emotion, there are some healthy snacks you can have on hand. Chopping up carrots, celery, and peppers with hummus is a good option or even a smoothie with leafy greens, fruit and protein powder.
We hope these tips will help you excel during this time adjusting to finding and establishing a new at home routine. With the right tools, utilizing this extra time at home can push you in the right direction in accomplishing all of your 2020 goals in no time!
For additional information, make sure to check out our Student Housing Blog for tips and on navigating everyday college life. Stay tuned for our next blog post!
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