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  • Gonzalo Cordova

Working From Home Does Not Have to Hinder Your Productivity

Updated: Jan 19

Some of us abruptly left the office and started working from home when the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the world. This change brought a few benefits to our lives (i.e. more time with family, no commute, etc.) and kept us and our communities safe. However, leaving the office also presented challenges to maintain high levels of productivity while working remotely. The following practices aim to help address these challenges.

Prime Yourself For Performance

Unnoticed rituals took place in the office. We drove to the same place, we wore office clothes, we worked in assigned spaces, etc. Also, while in the office, most interactions were work centric. Whatever our practices and activities were, they prepared us to work and kept us focused to perform.

Working from home lacks the office rituals and environment, which could leave us exposed to work without any warm-up and performance sustaining processes. Here are 4 practical steps to overcome this challenge:

1) Think Positively – Positive thoughts enhance our creativity and well-being

2) Customize Your Environment – Where we work and the items we use influence our behaviors

3) Define Boundaries – Rules that clarify what is/isn’t allowed while working

4) Establish Routines – An effective way to link time/habits to performance

Be consistent and patient in following these steps, and let your best performance happen while working from home.

Back-To-Back Virtual Meeting Transitions

I joined the next meeting on my calendar as fast as I could. But I was still thinking about the meeting that ended less than one minute ago. It took me a couple of minutes to refocus.

Blocks of back-to-back meetings are not unusual. However, without the physical room changes and hallway chats in between meetings that took place in the office, we are now required to transition from one virtual meeting to the next in seconds.

Short transitions between virtual meetings can feel stressful and unproductive without the proper process. Here is one simple approach to take a brief mental pause between virtual meetings:

1) Breath – Slowly breath in and out three times (think rhythm and smoothness)

2) Let Go – Wrap up any lingering thoughts from the prior meeting (write them down if needed)

3) Prime – Identify your main reason to attend the next meeting and the role you will play

4) Engage – Join the next virtual meeting with the intent to be fully present 

Whatever the approach you follow, the short time invested to transition will enable you to start your next virtual meeting ready to add value.

Replicating Your End-Of-Day Commute

I do not miss my 45-minute commute after work, in which I was normally rushing to get home for dinner at a reasonable time. However, I do miss the opportunity to unwind from the day, which inadvertently prepared me to take upon my role as a family member.

Many of us lost an effective transition process when we started working from home. The good news is that we can replicate what we lost without the actual stressful commute. Here are some simple and effective practices to consider:

1) Meditate – This can be done in your workspace if needed

2) Exercise – Even walking in place counts

3) Take a nap – No more than 30 minutes to avoid disrupting your night sleep

4) Serve others virtually – There are many opportunities that do not require a lot of time

5) Observe nature – Pictures of nature also work

6) Read – Anything that that is not related to your field of work does the trick

7) Color and/or draw – Avoid digital options if possible

8) Tidy up your workspace – Enough to feel a change in your environment

9) Silence your workspace – Turn off electronics and sources of light completely

Whatever practice(s) you choose, make sure you follow them every day. Your new transition routine will maximize your performance in your non-work role(s).

For more information on this topic refer to the work of Csikszentmihalyi, Stulberg & Magness and Newport.

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