Impact Hub Manila CEO Ces Rondario Shares Tips on How to Efficiently Work From Home
It has been a week since the Philippine government placed the entire Luzon region under an enhanced community quarantine, restricting movement and forcing many of us to work from home. Being part of a global network, it’s not foreign to my team and I to be remotely coordinating with our counterparts abroad. But after a week of purely online work, I realized that it is way more challenging so I’m sharing with you some productivity hacks that I’ve been following, hoping that these could also help you in the coming weeks.
1. Set a schedule for work hours.
Routine, I have learned, is the cornerstone of remote work. Pre-lockdown, I was always up by 6:30 AM, would be out of the door by 8:00 AM on most days, and home by 9:00 PM. Last week, I decided to keep my work hours between 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM, with two one-hour breaks in between.
Maintaining my pre-lockdown rhythm has definitely allowed me to focus, and meet my deliverables, even and especially when the lure of staying in bed felt strong.
2. Create a space dedicated for focused work.
The truth is, I actually don’t have a work desk at home. I have gotten used to using my dining table as my makeshift desk, but after working from it everyday for at least 10 hours straight, I am now the biggest advocate of having a dedicated space for work at home.
So while I wait for the community quarantine to be lifted before I could buy furniture and set up my own work space (wait for my update on this!), I am improvising by using my dining table for when I’m working on my laptop, and then moving to my couch when I take calls. I’ve also made sure that my work area is free of any distraction (read: TV is turned off and all snacks are hidden from sight). I even put together a work-from-home playlist.
3. Take breaks.
If you’re like me, there are times when I zone out in the middle of work. For the first two days of the quarantine period, I only took a break for lunch. But as the days let on, I realized that assigning blocks of time for specific tasks helped me concentrate better especially after coming from a much-needed break.
My tip? Set alarms for breaks. Step away from your desk. Stretch. Walk around your house. Take meals on time. Allow yourself some breathing space to recharge before you take another plunge into work. Regardless of where you are, both your mind and body need rest.
4. Dress up.
At first I thought this would be a challenge but luckily for me, 70% of my time at work is spent on video calls. While I’m not expected to be in my usual business look, the need to be presentable is still very much there.
What I found out was, getting dressed helped set my mind that my day was, in fact, about to start. It’s a great way to build momentum, and can put you in the mood for the day’s work.
5. Explore digital tools for online collaboration and productivity.
Good technology is designed to make our lives better and easier. If you have avoided new technology and platforms for so long, this is the time to give these tools a try. See how they can help you do your work more efficiently. From group communication tools such as Slack, to collaborative platforms such as Trello, there’s a wide array of online tools to choose from, all promising better productivity especially for people who work from home.
6. Set boundaries and expectations.
I live alone so I have always been able to manage my time as I see fit. But this isn’t the case for most people. If there are people you share your home with, it helps to let them know about your work arrangements, and come to an understanding if you need to place restrictions on your shared spaces and personal interactions.
In the same way, let your colleagues and clients know about your expected turnaround time and when they should expect you to be online or out.
7. Connect with people.
There is no reason to be completely isolated as you work from home amid this community quarantine. So long as you have means to communicate, reach out and connect with your friends, family, and colleagues.
See people online using the technology at your fingertips. Spend your coffee breaks with your teammates, albeit virtually. Perhaps now, more than ever, the need to feel connected is most important.
8. Know yourself.
As with any new activity, a work from home arrangement may take some getting used to. Listen to your body and adjust. If you realize you work better near windows, then set your workspace by the window. If you realize you are more productive in the evenings when people at home are asleep, talk to your colleagues and try to make an arrangement for your adjusted work hours. Remember that your habits may be different now that you are not spending your day in the office. You may even realize that you’d need constant check-in with your supervisors or with your team to ensure that everyone is still on track.
And while this new pandemic weighs on everyone’s minds, cut yourself some slack. It may be a difficult adjustment in the beginning but by getting to know yourself better, you can find ways on how you can thrive and keep creating value to share with the world.
This time of our lives offers a moment of reflection. At a time when humanity battles an enemy invisible to our eyes, driving many of us into despair, a greater power promises healing, strength, and salvation. Bow down, look within yourself, and connect to your Lord and Savior. In stillness and silence, may we find the humility to reach out to the Lord who can give us peace and strength to get us through this crisis.
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