COVID-19 is still in the town and seems to have no plans to leave anytime soon.
Hence, us mere mortals will have to Work From Home (WFH) for an extended time period for the betterment of our society and ourselves.
Humankind will easily get bored when confined to a limited area and engaged in repetitive activities on a daily basis (I feel pity for the poor animals who trapped at zoo). Irrespective of your current occupation, I’m pretty sure you already feel bored at home.
Are you feeling less productive?
Are you feeling that you are not using your powers to their fullest?
Well, I’m not going to write yet another post on self-motivation or productivity hacks. Instead, I’d like to share with you few of my genuine experiences on how to get the best out of a single day, when you are WFH. These things have worked on me from the beginning of the lock down. So I’m pretty sure they’ll work on you as well.
Rise Up Early — Declutter Your Mind
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”
— Ben Franklin, famously
I wasn’t an early riser before. But since the starting week of the lock down in my country, I decided to give it a shot.
At first, I was so energetic and determined, tried to wake up at 5.30 am in the morning. But it was futile :) Then I decided to go with the time that my biological clock had used to. So I tried 7.00 am, it worked. Then made it to 6.45 am and it still worked. Likewise, I reduced the time by 15 minutes in two days interval. Now I’m at 5.30 am.
Not bad, huh?
The biggest benefit for me in rising early is I’m having a focused and an uncluttered mind in the morning. When I sit in my desk in the morning, I can hear birds chirping in our garden and almost no or less noise from vehicles on the road. This mental state is priceless for me so that I can start the day with most complex task in my list.
Try to Finish the Tasks that Require Most of Your Focus — Address the Elephant in the Room
As the first task of the day, I go through my work email and make a list of emails that need to be addressed immediately. There are emails from customers that require a bit of research and creative juice before responding. For example, these are the tasks you need to think through heavily. I feel that morning is the ideal time to work on such tasks. Rest of the tasks which are repetitive or need collaboration with your colleagues can be taken later in the day.
Once you are done with the mammoth tasks, you’ll immediately feel an accomplishment in your mind. Trust me, with that feeling you can run the whole day.
Keep those dopamine flowing towards your brain. That is the “happiness juice” in my terms :)
Exercise — Let Those Excess Calories Burn
When my morning tasks are done, I can see sunshine coming to my desk through the window. Now it’s time to break some sweat and get some breakfast.
I’m not a regular fitness guy. I’m currently borderline at my BMI. But my Facebook feed started suggesting a bunch of “Do it from Home” style fitness apps. I tried few free apps which offered me basic weight loss routines that requires no gym equipment at all.
So I’m doing simple things like jumping jacks, flanks, squats and crunches with the app I installed in my phone. App gives me daily goals like 16 crunches or 1 minute flank. When I achieve them and break sweat like a fountain, I feel happy and that fuels more happiness juice into my brain.
Eat Fresh, Eat Healthy
When my workout is done and washed it up with a shower, there comes the breakfast.
At the beginning of the lock down, we tried to buy groceries from supermarkets. But they were crowded, lack of supplies and unresponsive most of the time. So we used to live with a limited menu. Usual sugary stuff and high carb stuff was cut down as a result. Once bright side of the lock down is that food producers stared showing up at our street and they brought us fresh meat,eggs and veggies directly from the farm. They also brought in fresh and healthy fruits which were really difficult to find in regular days.
So we considered this as a blessing and altered our usual meal plan to have more healthy and fresh food. As a result, my wife started making me a glass of herbal porridge every morning which is sourced entirely from our home garden. My diet was controlled and well planned.
So try to use this lock down opportunity to eat more healthy food. Because now you have more time to spend in the kitchen since there’s no commute time.
Turn off Social Media, At least in the morning half — Feed on a Low Information Diet
I was a big fan of social media including Facebook and YouTube. On a daily basis, these channels feed you a vast amount of information which is really hard to digest for a guy like me.
In the beginning of the lock down, I used to check my Facebook feed as the first thing in the morning because it has too much information on the COVID-19 outbreak. People started putting status updates as new active cases are discovered. Eventually I figured out that these things draw so much of your focus and energy in a productive time slot like morning.
From the last week, I restricted myself from accessing Facebook only at the time before I go to bed. The result was wonderful. My days were focused and filled with energy.
Try to Switch Tasks — Break Apart Lengthy Tasks into Multiple Chunks
In order to keep my morning energy fully utilized till the lunch time, I used to switch tasks. Try to break down lengthy and boring tasks into multiple chunks. For each chunk, define a clear goal of completion. Make the maximum duration of a task to one hour (That’s what worked to me. But your mileage can be vary). If you have two lengthy tasks, break them into multiple pieces and switch working on them on hourly basis. I used Pomodoro Technique to mark an end of a task and get a small break.
Context switching helps you to keep your focus while doing one task well until you see an end of it. Also, it prevents draining your energy. Since tasks are chunked, you have to switch to the next task if you feel bored at one.Then at the next iteration, you can look at the old task with a new angle and solve it differently.
Take a Power Nap — Give Your Brain a Break
I break my morning work streak at lunch time.
You might not agree with me on this. But I usually I take a one to two hour nap after the lunch. I feel that after lunch is my weakest time of getting things done. So I use that time to give a rest to my systems hoping that they will reboot with more energy.
If you don’t feel sleepy, don’t worry. You can try to read or watch a movie sometime?
After getting a rest. It’s time for some family time. Usually after tea time, we as a family do collective tasks like gardening, cleaning up and playing badminton. My son and I used to build new toys together by cannibalizing his existing toys. It was fun!
After getting inspired on people who grow in their home, we started a project to transform our garden into a small farm. Unless there’s a specific work, I used to work on that project till the evening.
Not only these tasks help you to revitalize your lost energy in the morning but lets you spend some quality time with your loved ones.
Back to Work, Or Sleep
We used to take early dinners these days as there are no commute time. We usually wrap our days around 8.30 pm. Until this The remaining time you can use again to follow up on remaining work and plan for the next day. Maybe you can use this time to work on your side project, write (like I do right now) or read.
Try your best to plan the next day if possible. Depending on your job, there can be unexpected assignments from work. You can’t help it. But you can definitely pick and choose what needs to be done tomorrow and prioritize them.
Then you can take high priority tasks in the morning again.
And the cycle continues…
One thing to notice is that this whole daily routine thing didn’t come out of the blue. It took me a couple of weeks to experiment and adopt the best thing. I must have wasted few weeks. But right now I’m satisfied with the way I work now.
At least, it is better than the days before the COVID-19 :)
Written on April 27, 2020 by Dunith Dhanushka.
Originally published on Medium
Author Dunith Dhanushka