Two days ago, I got the message - ‘Work from home sucks!’ - from my cousin who works as a content producer at a digital streaming company. He complained about his inability to focus and the constant temptation to curl up on his bed and snooze every few hours.
I have been working from home for a year now – way before CoronaVirus brought our lives to a halt. My reason for embracing this arrangement was driven by personal developments, owing to which I had to move from Bangalore to a small town where worthwhile job opportunities are as common as apple orchards in coastal areas. If I had to have a career, I had to tap into the power of the internet and find remote working options.
As is the current situation with the global workforce, I also faced a few hiccups while getting into the groove of remote working. I was also used to working in a formal office set-up, and I had to devise a few strategies to work out the kinks of working from home. As a married woman living with my in-laws, there was the added pressure of balancing my work with domestic and familial obligations. As the world goes into lockdown and governments across the world impose restrictions on mobility, here are a few tips to make the transition smoother.
Make a list!
Unless you are Hermione Granger armed with a time-turner, there is only so much you can accomplish in a day. Make a to-do list everyday and jot down the things that you have to get done on the domestic and professional front in decreasing order of priority. The list should include any events or outings also which you are socially obligated to attend because these eat up into your time during which you could finish other tasks.
Prioritise the toughest task
Finish the most difficult piece of work earlier in the day. Tick off items from your to-do list sequentially, starting from the most important and time-consuming ones to the lesser important ones. As the day progresses, your energy levels go down and you may have to focus on other tasks as they come up. For instance, if an assignment is due in two days, work on it on a priority basis so that you do not have to scramble to finish it at the last minute and end up compromising on the quality of your work.
Set-up boundaries between personal and professional tasks
At times, it is difficult to make your friends and relatives understand that working from home, without being watched by your boss, does not mean that you have time to spare. In the initial days of working remotely, my friends and family members used to ask me to join them for lunch or a social gathering, assuming that I can take a break. But it is important to set boundaries and turn down such requests firmly yet politely so that ‘trivialising’ of your work does not become a norm.
Take regular breaks; beat the monotony
Maintaining focus is one of the biggest challenges of working from home. Working on one thing at a time makes it easier to keep distraction at bay. The Pomodoro technique, a renowned time management method, advocates taking a break of five minutes after every 25 minutes of working; after four such cycles, one can take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. Every 25 minutes spent productively gives a sense of accomplishment while the break breaks the monotony.
Make your own rules and stick to them
My personal two-minute rule is that whatever tasks can be done in a span of two minutes, I do it right away instead of procrastinating it. Be it dumping clothes in the washing machine or responding to an email– there are numerous household chores and work-related tasks that can be done in two minutes. This saves me from feeling overwhelmed as I do not have a hundred small tasks that need to be done at once.
(Edited by Athira Nair)