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All the Tips You Need to Help You Work from Home, Efficiently

work from home

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The practice of remote working has rapidly gained momentum over the past couple of weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But the shift has come along with its own set of challenges. While some professionals may experience increased levels of productivity owing to little or no buzz and clutter in their home spaces, some may feel that not having a designated office blurs the boundary between work and play—hence leading to lack of concentration.

Should there be a marked out space at home for work? Should you actually be dressing up to finish the tasks at hand? We spoke with two experienced life coaches, Milind Jadhav and Shalini Verma, to take their tips on the best way to go about it.

Jadhav lets us in on the simple steps he has taken over the course of 11 years of working from home.

1. Remember, mess creates stress. Tennis icon Andre Agassi wouldn’t let anyone touch his tennis bag because if it got disorganised, he’d get distracted by that.

2. Check your email in the afternoon, so you protect the peak energy hours of your mornings to produce your best work.

3. If you can, start your day early. The biggest advantage of working from home is that the commuting time is zero. You can wake up at 5am and start working at 5:30am when the rest of the world is still sleeping. Use this to your advantage.

4. Don’t say yes to every request. You can’t be available for everyone during working hours, just because you’re working from home. Learning to say ‘no’ more often will keep you more productive.

5. Use your flexible work schedule to take fitness breaks. It will not only be beneficial for your health, but will also clear your head to come back with renewed energy.

6. Work in 90-minute blocks with 10-minute intervals to see an increase in concentration level. Also, definitely drink more water. It sounds trivial, but when you’re dehydrated, you have less energy and, in turn, get less done.

7. Finally, it’s absolutely essential to keep a track of how you’re spending your work day at home. Be mindful and record the number of hours you’re actually working and wasting. In case you’re just starting out and trying to get into a certain rhythm, approaching a coach or mentor can help with the initial setup.

Definitely invest in a comfortable chair. You will be spending a lot of time here.

While the simple and practical tips by Jadhav focus on how to enhance day-to-day functioning, the advice that Verma shared with us focuses on how to actually get in a ‘flow’ to quintuple your productivity. The term, flow, she tells us, was coined by an eminent American-Hungarian psychologist, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. He simply described it as a mental state of “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” If that sounds unachievable, here’s what Verma believes can help.

1. Observe and use your body rhythm as a guide. If you prefer to wake up at 4am and work when the house is quiet, or work late into the night, go for it. If you follow the body rhythm, chances of getting into a ‘flow’ are very high. The trick is to create these flow states in everyday life for higher success rates.

2. Easy and effective: Definitely invest in a comfortable chair. You will be spending a lot of time here.

3. Plan ahead to reduce distractions. If you’re responsible for meals, plan a week in advance or do meal preps. Keep healthy snacks and fruits within ready reach.

4. Get dressed. It is good practice to change into formal or semi formal clothes during your work hours. However, if you prefer to work in your pyjamas, it is recommended to change from slippers to formal shoes or wear a scarf. This helps compartmentalise and create segregation in the mind.

5. Another important thing is to reward yourself on a regular basis. The boosters are very helpful in keeping you on toes. I treat myself to at-home pedicure, mini spa or a coffee with my favorite book, every time I complete a project or mid-sized goal. Make a list of your own rewards (things which make you happy) and sprinkle them along the journey to your bigger targets.

6. Lastly, keep your eyes on the big goal. Print a picture of what you desire, whether it’s a dream house, an iPhone or new gadgets, and pin it where you can see it while working. This is a very powerful way to keep yourself focussed on the current work.

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